Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng said he has received offers to halve the cost of the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High-Speed Rail project.
Lim told The Straits Times that there was no formal proposal yet but such offers showed the exorbitant nature of the current plan initiated by the previous government, which is estimated at RM110 billion.
Lim said "we have people offering we can cut (the price) by half" after Mahathir publicly floated the idea of cancelling the HSR project.
"We don't know whether that's serious... (but) that means the whole thing was way overpriced and that raises more questions," he is quoted as saying by the Singapore daily.
Lim said Putrajaya was open to going ahead with the project if the price was right.
"The project by itself makes some sense, but not at the exorbitant cost," he is quoted as saying.
Singapore has said it continued to incur costs while Malaysia has not given a clear answer on its position on the project.
Mahathir, when asked about Singapore's complaint, said the city-state should know Malaysia's position even though there had not been a formal notice.
Asked by The Straits Times if Malaysia had a different plan, Lim said discussions would be held with Singapore.
The daily also quoted a Malaysian government source as saying the compensation cost for cancelling the HSR project was lower than the initial estimated RM500 million, excluding expenses that have already been incurred.
However, the government source also floated the idea of a loan from Singapore.
"If Singapore can offer a soft loan, it would drastically reduce the interest cost," the source is quoted as saying.