In a bizarre turn of events relating to the Singapore-Kuala Lumpur High Speed Rail (HSR) issue, Malaysia's Economics Affairs Minister Mohamed Azmin Ali claimed to Malaysian news agency Bernama (article in Malay) that he met “Singapore's senior officials” to discuss the project over the August 4 weekend - a fact that is refuted by Singapore's Ministry of Transport (MOT).
Alleged meeting went "positively"
Azmin told Bernama that he was in Singapore to visit Malaysia’s Home Minister Muhyiddin Yassin who is hospitalised here for pancreatic tumour surgery:
"I went to Singapore yesterday to visit Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin (Minister for Home Affairs), and I took the opportunity to meet Singapore's senior officials to discuss about HSR. It went positively."
Azmin also added that the official HSR meeting will take place "sometime in August".
Refuted by Ministry of Transport
However, Azmin's claims were refuted by MOT who said that no meeting regarding the HSR had taken place, nor has a date been set for discussion about the project. In a statement to Today, an MOT spokesperson said:
"As of 6 August 2018, the Malaysian Government has not provided the clarifications sought by Singapore and has not communicated their proposed dates for such discussions.”
At this rate, Malaysia's fudging on the project will soon be longer than our proposed 350km HSR line.
A useful timeline, in case you're interested:
June 1: In response to Mahathir's public announcements, Singapore sends a note via diplomatic channels requesting that Malaysia provide her official stance on the project and have discussions, if required, conducted by July 31.
July 9: Singapore's Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan reveals that Singapore is waiting for Malaysia's official confirmation on the fate of the HSR. He also reveals that the costs incurred by the HSR project has exceeded S$250 million.
July 10: In response to Khaw's Parliament statements, Mahathir says, “We have not given them (Singapore) full notice yet but they know what we want to do".
July 18: Malaysia's Economic Affairs Minister Mohamed Azmin Ali says the HSR is not a “terrible project” and “any infrastructural project will benefit both Malaysia and Singapore”.
July 19: Mahathir changes tone, says HSR "will have to be deferred". Singapore's MOT also confirmed that the Malaysian government has informed Singapore that it would confirm the meeting date by end July.
July 23: Azmin informs MOT that Malaysia was studying the HSR and "will commence discussions with Singapore soon".
July 31: Malaysia misses the July 31 deadline; Azmin insists the deadline was just a "suggestion" by Singapore and says that the meeting will take place soon, "hopefully... in early August". This was despite MOT saying that it was the Malaysian government which earlier informed Singapore that it would confirm the meeting date by end July.
August 1: Singapore's MOT clarifies that Malaysia has yet to propose a meeting date to discuss the HSR, and that Singapore welcomes "Malaysia’s suggestion to commence discussions".
August 6: Azmin: "I met Singapore's senior officials to discuss the HSR over the weekend".
August 6: MOT: "No you didn't".
Top images via Famouspeople.com and RailwayGazette.