On May 12, the Malaysian government's delivery vehicle for the high-speed project, MyHSR, released a statement congratulating Mahathir Mohamad on being sworn in as the country's seventh prime minister.
"Projections until 2069 were seen to potentially bring in RM650 billion in GNI while 110,000 jobs could have eventually expanded into 442,000 jobs", he said in his Facebook posting.
Mohamad said that the process to cancel the project will take some time because of Malaysia's agreement with Singapore.
"I think the people of Singapore, like the people in Malaysia, must be exhausted of having the same government, the same party since independence", he said in an interview with the Financial Times.
He added: "When Malaysia requested to discontinue the cases, without them being argued, we were happy to agree". Malaysia's unilateral decision not to proceed with construction means it may now have to compensate Singapore.
In his latest press conference on May 30, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad announced that the government has chose to set up "Tabung Harapan Malaysia" (THM) or "Malaysian Fund of Hope" as a way for Malaysians to donate, for those who want to voluntarily ease the nation's burden.
He said the decision to cancel the project was taken "to reduce the amount of borrowings" by Najib. It is going to cost a huge sum of money. Breaking the BN's six-decade long monopoly, Mahathir beat his one-time protégé Najib Razak and became the world's oldest head of government. "So we are not only looking at the [high speed rail project] but also mega projects which cost billions of dollars". "We'll make no money at all from this arrangement".
The ministry said the fund would be called Malaysia Hope Fund and provided the name of a local bank and an account number for contributions which it said must be made in cash denominated in the local currency.
He added: "If this country is to avoid bankruptcy, we must learn to manage our big debts". "I would like to ask Dr Mahathir if projects such as Pan Borneo Highway and Central Spine Road that are toll-free, as well as Light Rail Transit (LRT), Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) and monorail, only obtain returns via ticket sales alone?"
"If we don't do it, not only we have to incur abortive cost in our own border, we also may have to provide compensation to Singapore", said company CEO Mohd Nur Ismal Mohamed Kamal.
The planned double-track link between the Malaysian capital city of Kuala Lumpur and Singapore was set to connect the two in 90 minutes with seven stations in Malaysia and one in Singapore.