ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
Singapore, Malaysia to keep working closely on transport, water
SINGAPORE: The two neighbours are working well together, and leaders of Singapore and Malaysia emerged from their annual retreat on Tuesday (May 5) saying that the friendship and cooperation would continue.
Aside from the “game-changing” high-speed rail link between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his Malaysian counterpart, Mr Najib Razak, as well as their delegations discussed issues related to the Causeway and the Johor River Barrage.
Singapore is automating all motorcycle counters at the Woodlands and Tuas checkpoints by the end of next year, up from about a quarter of all counters currently, said both leaders in a joint statement.
Automated counters at the Singapore checkpoint will speed up motorcycle immigration clearance by up to 30 per cent and help reduce congestion for all checkpoint users, they said.
Malaysia also plans to introduce automated motorcycle counters, and is studying the introduction of radio frequency identification stickers in passports for Malaysian motorcyclists to allow for faster self-clearance at the Causeway.
Both sides are working towards increasing train services between Johor Bahru and the Woodlands train checkpoint.
Singapore is also developing a BioScreen project to capture and tag biometric identifiers of visitors. The move is intended to facilitate immigration clearance at its checkpoints.
Both Prime Ministers, who held a joint press conference, stressed that security cannot be compromised.
Asked if the “Friendship Bridge” — a proposed third link between Singapore and Johor in addition to the Causeway and Tuas Second Link — was discussed, Mr Lee said it is something the Republic will study for the long term “as our existing links max out and the capacity needs to be expanded”.
'GOOD COOPERATION' ON WATER PROJECT
On water cooperation, Mr Lee thanked Mr Najib for “good cooperation” between Singapore’s national water agency PUB and Johor’s water regulating body BAKAJ, and for the Malaysian Premier’s support of the Johor River Barrage project.
The barrage will keep out saltwater intrusions during dry seasons and allow Singapore and Johor to draw on the full capacity of the river.
The project has been delayed because of wet weather, said Mr Lee, but both leaders reaffirmed the importance of its timely completion to ensure reliable water supply from the Johor River, as provided for under the 1962 Water Agreement.
Both Prime Ministers also noted progress of the M+S projects in Marina South and the Ophir-Rochor area in Singapore, as well as of Iskandar Malaysia, which are seeing “good support from the market”.
M+S is a joint venture owned by Temasek Holdings and Malaysia’s Khazanah Nasional.
The two leaders welcomed discussions on loan of artworks through the National Gallery Singapore and the National Visual Arts Gallery of Malaysia. The Titian Budaya Singapore-Malaysia Cultural Showcase will also be held this year in Kuala Lumpur to mark 50 years of diplomatic relations between the two countries.
At the press conference, Mr Lee also noted how both sides have “been helping each other quietly in times of need”. Malaysia helped bring some Singaporeans back from war-torn Yemen recently, while Singapore helped some Malaysians return from Kathmandu in Nepal when a deadly earthquake struck over a week ago.
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