Let’s continue our story about how Singapore, supposedly a clean and incorruptible nation, secretly helped ex-PM Najib Razak during the peak of the 1MDB scandal. The plausible possibility that the Government of Singapore was the “hidden hand” behind the blackmailing of Swiss national Xavier Andre Justo to change his story has since gotten The Straits Times extremely worry.
As the world’s 3rd top financial centre (behind London and New York), it’s an insult to the peoples’ intelligence that Singapore didn’t know the documents supplied by 1MDB relating to its Brazen Sky Limited account were false bank statements. The Monetary Authority of Singapore knew that Arul Kanda was bullshitting when he claimed US$1.103 billion cash was kept at BSI Bank Limited, Singapore.
Besides the United States, Switzerland and Luxembourg, it’s believed that Najib and his wife Rosmah keep their ill-gotten money in Singapore as well. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong loved Najib simply because such corrupted Malaysian leader can be easily manipulated and controlled. As a financial centre, Singapore does not discriminate against dirty or laundered money.
The Singapore-Kuala Lumpur 350-km high-speed rail (HSR) link project which had been inked in 2016 under the previous PM Najib Razak was inflated to include kickbacks. As revealed by newly installed Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, the project was designed in such a way that Malaysia will be penalised close to RM500 million if they withdraw from it.
In actuality, Singapore doesn’t need the HSR project. After all, more than 90% of the railroad will be on Malaysian soil. It’s amazing that Singapore gets to pocket half a billion ringgit in the event the contract is cancelled considering the island’s involvement is less than 10%. Consider this – the 688-km East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) project costs RM55 billion but the shorter 350-km HSR project will cost RM110 billion.
Obviously, something is fishy when it costs almost double for a shorter railway project. Shouldn’t China be awarded the HSR project since they could build it at half the price, or 50% discount? It appears that Singapore could have benefited massively from the high-speed rail project, possibly even kickbacks, after the “hidden hand” blackmailed Xavier Andre Justo to change his story.
Unfortunately, both Najib Razak and Lee Hsien Loong, as they happily scratching each other’s back, didn’t anticipate that the 93-year-old Mahathir Mohamad could unseat the Barisan Nasional coalition government after being in power for 61 years since independence in 1957. All hell breaks loose when Pakatan Harapan coalition made a stunning victory.
In normal circumstances, Mahathir should be the one flying to Singapore begging PM Lee Hsien Loong to cancel, or at least reconsider, the RM110 billion HSR project. Instead, it was the panicked Mr. Lee who flew to Malaysia to meet Mr. Mahathir. Even then, the Singaporean prime minister was given a short 30 minutes for the meeting, before the humiliated PM Lee left Mahathir’s office.
Lee Hsien Loong wanted to talk about HSR with Mahathir, but the Malaysian leader simply told him that HSR will be scrapped, one way or another. With tail between legs, the Singaporean leader left. Today (Monday, May 28th), Mahathir unilaterally announced to the world that Malaysia will scrap the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore high-speed rail project.
Mahathir said – “It is a final decision, but it will take time because we have an agreement with Singapore. It’s not beneficial. It’s going to cost us a huge sum of money. We’ll make no money at all from this arrangement. It is only a short track. It is only going to save people one hour by taking the HSR.”
To lose RM500 million in penalty for cancelling the project is better than to spend RM110 billion on a mega-project which is doomed to fail. The ticket price for the HSR trip will be too expensive for ordinary Malaysians. However, based on Mahathir’s track record, he is not going to bend over and flash half a billion of ringgit to Lee Hsien Loong without a fight.
If Mahathir had previously given Lee Kuan Yew a run for his money, chances are the old man is going to do the same to his son now. The Malaysian prime minister has already hinted that his administration will haggle – and most likely drag his feet – about the final compensation figures for Singapore.
Heck, Mahathir might even just offer Hsien Loong a small token of compensation for cancelling the project, and there’s nothing Singapore can do about it. Will Singapore drag Malaysia to the international court and in the process spill the beans about how the unfavourable terms were made between scandal-plagued Najib Razak and his Singapore buddy?
Hsien Loong is easy meat to Mahathir. When push comes to shove, Malaysia can easily threaten Singapore over its national security – by allowing China to deploy its radar surveillance and missile system in Johor, essentially spying on the little island. Last year, Beijing offered AR3 multiple launch rocket system (MLRS) to be positioned in Johor, Malaysia.
Conventional wisdom says it would be wise for Singapore to forget about insisting on the RM500 million penalties, in the interest of maintaining good relationship between both countries. It’s better for Mahathir to owe Lee Hsien Loong a favour than to start a confrontation. Singapore’s reputation will be at stake if the country is openly mentioned as the “hidden hand” behind Justo blackmail in Thailand.
Source : Finance Twitter