Monday, May 24, 2010

Seeing light at the end of the tunnel …

Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak met his Singapore counterpart Lee Hsien Loong in the island republic today, summing up the outcome as positive for greater collaboration.

"If you are looking for a positive signal, this is it," he told a joint media conference with Lee following their retreat meeting.
He said the many decisions made during the retreat should signify a very positive signal for both sides to engage in more investment, education, trade and greater collaboration between the two countries.
They had met a year ago when they decided not to allow outstanding bilateral issues to be in the way of developing and strengthening bilateral ties.
With that positive mindset, they had achieved much within a year, starting with meetings at various levels of the government to find a common ground.
"And today is quite historic as we see now the light at the end of the tunnel with respect to the outstanding issues that have been lingering for almost 20 years," said Najib.
With what that had been achieved in today's meeting, Najib said he could more or less say that the Points of Agreement (PoA) on Keretapi Tanah Melayu Bhd land in Singapore should finally be put to rest when Lee meets him in Kuala Lumpur next month.

Malaysia today decided to move the Tanjong Pagar Railway Station to the Woodlands train checkpoint by July 1 next year under the enhanced PoA.
When the PoA was signed by both countries in 1990, Malaysia had agreed to move the Tanjong Pagar Railway Station only to Bukit Timah after five years but it did not materialise.
Najib said the spirit and the political understanding to find a resolution on a mutually beneficial manner so that both countries could benefit from the finalisation of the enhanced PoA agreement had led to the positive result.
The prime minister said the settlement of the enhanced PoA would lead to a better connectivity and flow of people, followed by investment, and goods and services between the two neighbourly countries, linked by a causeway and a bridge.
"We believe that the connectivity between Singapore and Johor Bahru will be achieved by 2018," said Najib.
Meanwhile, Lee said both countries decided to move forward in their bilateral relationship as they needed to work together in the face of global challenges now with many competitive alternative centres growing in Asia.

He described his meeting with Najib as fruitful as both countries managed to clear issues that had been hanging for almost 20 years. They could now move forward and develop their relationship.
On the water issue, Lee said upon the expiry of the 1961 Water Agreement on July 1 next year, Singapore would hand over the Skudai waterworks to the Johor water authorities free of charge and in good working order.
Singapore has been using the waterworks to extract water from the Skudai river for its water supply.
The city-state has another waterworks in Johor where it is allowed to extract 250 million gallons of water per day (Mgd) from the Johor river based on the 1962 Water Agreement which will only expire in 2061.

(Story and photographs by Bernama)

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