Malaysia awaiting Singapore nod on rail project and friendship bridge

Malaysia awaiting Singapore nod on rail project and friendship bridge
Malaysia Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak greets Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

SINGAPORE - Malaysia and Singapore leaders started their sixth retreat yesterday to review current co-operation and explore new initiatives amid the backdrop of the best level of bilateral ties in recent years.

Malaysia's High Commissioner to Singapore Datuk Husni Zai Yaacob said Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong is expected to announce today the Singapore terminal for the High Speed Rail Project between the republic and Kuala Lumpur.

Malaysia has already announced Bandar Malaysia in Sungai Besi as the country's terminal during the leaders' retreat last year.

The HSR will reportedly cost RM40bil and cut rail travel time between Kuala Lumpur and Singa-pore from six hours to just 90 minutes. The 330km rail line is expected to be completed by 2020 with five transit stops spread out across Negri Sembilan, Malacca and Johor.

This year also marks the 50th year of diplomatic relations between Malaysia and Singapore.

The retreat kicked off with Lee hosting a private dinner for Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor.

During their four-eyed meeting today, the Malaysian-proposed friendship bridge, which is to replace the Causeway, is expected to be discussed.

Najib has proposed for the bridge last year and so far there has been no official response from Lee.

"I believe the bridge is to be discussed but can't anticipate the outcome of the meeting because it is still in the initial stage.

"This speed train project involves two countries, a lot of issues need to be discussed, so we can expect more details to be announced at the retreat," Husni added.

Both leaders will witness the signing of an MoU between the National Security Council and Singapore Civil Defence on Co-Operation in Developing Urban Search and Rescue Capabilities and Supplemental Agreement to the Agreement for the Construction and Operation of a Ferry Terminal and the Operation of a Ferry Service between Peninsular Malaysia and Singapore.

He said the connectivity between Johor Baru and Woodland will be better as KTM Berhad is increasing the frequency from four to 16 times.

"Each trip can easily accommodate 300 passengers and it is a popular mode of transportation for Malaysians and Singaporeans," Husni told reporters here.

Najib is also scheduled to meet the representatives of the Malaysian Association in Singapore and attend a dialogue session with top business leaders and others in Singapore.

Before departing, the Prime Minister will deliver a keynote address at the Economic Society of Singapore annual dinner.

Last year, Singapore was Malaysia's second largest trading partner globally and largest trading partner among ASEAN. Total trade between the two countries was recorded at RM194.52 billion (S$72 billion) last year.

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