Singapore will also prosper if Iskandar Malaysia region succeeds: PM Lee

Singapore will also prosper if Iskandar Malaysia region succeeds: PM Lee
PM Lee hopes that Singapore can sign a bilateral agreement on the RTS by the end of next year while Mr Najib says that the RTS will be integrated into the underground system in Singapore’s MRT network.
PHOTO: The Straits Times

Singapore will prosper if the neighbouring Iskandar Malaysia region in the state of Johor does well, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Tuesday.

Mr Lee, who was in Putrajaya to attend the annual leaders' retreat with Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, said he congratulated Mr Najib on the tenth anniversary of Iskandar Malaysia this year.

Since its launch, Iskandar Malaysia has attracted more than RM200 billion (S$64.3 billion) in cumulative committed investments, with a sizeable amount coming from Singapore companies.

Singapore is currently the second-largest foreign investor in both Iskandar Malaysia and Johor.

Mr Lee added that both governments continue to work closely together via a joint ministerial committee for Iskandar Malaysia.

This high-level committee has met a dozen times since it was formed in 2007. The last meeting was held in Singapore in March this year.

Mr Lee also noted that the various joint-venture projects between Singapore's Temasek Holdings and Malaysia's Khazanah Nasional are making good progress.

The two investment companies have a couple of joint projects in Iskandar Malaysia, namely Afiniti Medini and Avira Medini.

These have a strong focus on wellness and have a combined gross development value of some RM3 billion.

Temasek and Khazanah also have a joint-venture company in Singapore called M+S Pte Ltd, which operates two major mixed-use developments - Marina One in Marina South and Duo in the Ophir-Rochor area.

"(The joint projects) show visibly that this is a win-win partnership that is progressing well," said Mr Lee at a press conference alongside Mr Najib at the Malaysian Prime Minister's Office.

The subject of water also came up during the leaders' retreat. Mr Najib said the two countries have agreed to work closely together to ensure that Singapore gets its share of water from Malaysia under the current agreement.

"There are some challenges, not least some of the effects of climate change that has affected the supply of water," said Mr Najib.

Mr Lee said that when it comes to water, both Singapore and Malaysia are clear on where they stand on this important issue.

"We are happy that we've agreed on the importance of ensuring reliable and adequate water supplies from the Johor river as provided for in the 1962 water agreement, and to take the necessary measures in order to make this happen," said the Singapore leader.

The Johor River Barrage is in the final stages of completion and will be fully operational by March 2017.

Mr Lee said this barrage has already made a difference to help increase the yield of the river.

Among the other topics that the two leaders discussed during their retreat were regional and international developments such as the impending change of government in the United States and Brexit in the UK.

They also talked about the importance of ASEAN integration and cohesion in a highly uncertain global environment.

Mr Najib said that both countries are "very pleased" with the overall state of bilateral relations between Malaysia and Singapore.

"There will always be challenges, but given the commitment at the highest levels that this should be an important relationship, one that is predicated on finding solutions, resolving problems and moving forward in a positive way," he said.

"That's the spirit that reflects the relationship that we've enjoyed between (PM Lee and I) and the two governments."

leeuwen@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on December 14, 2016.
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