"It is a final decision, but it will take time because we have an agreement with Singapore", Mahathir said.
He cited the example of the high-speed rail.
Mahathir, who won a surprise election victory this month against Najib Razak's long-ruling coalition, is seeking to fix the country's finances, which he says deteriorated dramatically after the former government became embroiled in a huge financial scandal.
Mott MacDonald, and WSP are some of the European and North American companies to have won roles on the ambitious project, which has been the subject of a formal agreement between the two countries since December 2016. Malaysia's unilateral decision not to proceed with construction means it may now have to compensate Singapore.
The Facebook page of the powerful Sultan of Johor - Malaysia's southernmost state bordering Singapore - past year published a video of a tiny maritime facility built on Middle Rock.
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The Malaysian prime minister yesterday cancelled the HSR because the "unnecessary project" would cost "RM110 billion and will not earn us a single sen".
"After knowing the full extent of the government's total debts, it is prudent to call off the HSR and other mega projects", he said.
Jotting down his comments on the Facebook site of a news outlet, Richard Koh said there was a need to slow down some developments when Malaysia's finance and economy is "in trouble".
But while it appears that the project was to have brought many benefits to the island republic, it would have done nothing for Malaysia, according to the new Pakatan Harapan led by Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
Singapore's Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan said the Lion City was "happy to agree" to the development, which comes weeks before the ICJ was to hear the review.
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Mahathir has reopened an investigation into 1MDB that was suppressed during Najib's rule.
Dr Mahathir, who was sworn in as Malaysia seventh Prime Minister just over two weeks ago, said Malaysia would have to pay RM500 million (US$125 mil) in penalties to Singapore over the cancellation of the project.
Singapore did not have an immediate reaction to Wednesday's announcement on the rail project.
The HSR is a 350-km railway scheme linking Kuala Lumpur and Singapore and is expected to start operations from 2026.
That project is slated to open by 2024 and is viewed as crucial in easing congestion in one of the world's busiest land checkpoints.
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