TOKYO: The contract for the High Speed Rail (HSR) project linking Kuala Lumpur with Singapore will be awarded not just on price and specifications but on the benefit to the government and people of Malaysia, says Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.
The Deputy Prime Minister, who is on a five-day working visit to Japan from Sunday, described his meeting with his counterpart Taro Aso and several ministers here today as ‘highly structured’, showing their readiness to offer a reciprocal package for Malaysia.
Japan, he said, seems serious and focused in its effort to promote its own high-speed train system, which has a good safety record.
“They also have the advanced technology and several high-tech innovations, and they are confident the HSR project would be a game changer for Malaysia’s economy, especially as it is a joint venture between Malaysia and Singapore.
“They also will definitely be offering several financing packages and an offset programme.
“The best offer is not based on pricing and specifications, but also on the benefit to the government and people (of Malaysia),” he told Malaysian journalists here.
Ahmad Zahid earlier had a closed-door meeting with Aso, who is also Finance Minister, and members of the Japan-Malaysia Parliamentarian Friendship Association.
Asked on Japan’s package offer, he declined to elaborate other than to say that Malaysia very much needs an offset programme and that the tender will be an open one, with bids to be called once the HSR agreement is finalised.
Earlier, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe expressed a desire to see his country’s Shinkanzen bullet train in action in Malaysia.
Yesterday, Ahmad Zahid took a 90-minute ride on the bullet train from Tokyo to Sendai, a distance of about 365 km. He was briefed by officials of East Japan Railway Co, the operator of the 2,400 km-long Shinkansen line, and visited the driver’s cockpit.
Early last year, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and his Singaporean counterpart Lee Hsien Loong reiterated their respective country’s full commitment to the HSR project, which can shorten travel time between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore to about 90 minutes compared to the three hours it would currently take by road.
Najib has said that a memorandum of understanding to facilitate the HSR project is expected to be signed by the two countries in July.