Mahathir, a 92 year-old veteran politician who swept to power in last week’s election, has previously opposed the rail link, referring to several mega-projects sanctioned by his predecessor Najib Razak — particularly Chinese investments — as “wasteful” in addition to “unnecessary.”
“Diplomatic ties with Singapore may not be as warm as they were under Najib yet will only become strained if Mahathir cancels the rail link,” Peter Mumford, Asia director at political consultancy Eurasia Group wrote in a Wednesday note. “the idea could be surprising, yet not unimaginable, if [Mahathir] pulls out,” Mumford continued.
Shares of YTL, a conglomerate awarded part of the contract to build the railway, fell more than 8 percent Monday when the Malaysian stock market resumed trade post-election.
For right now, the idea’s still too early to make any conclusions.
“Any decisions on economic projects in addition to foreign relations, including the high-speed railway, will not be the PM’s decision alone,” according to Chan. Mahathir himself has stated that will if the project will be deemed feasible, the idea could even extend up to the Malaysia–Thailand border, she continued.