Malaysian PM in town for leaders' retreat

Malaysian PM in town for leaders' retreat
Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak is in Singapore today and tomorrow to meet Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong for their regular leaders' retreat.

They are likely to discuss the high-speed rail link between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore at their meeting, which marks the 50th anniversary of bilateral ties.

Singapore has said it will announce the location of its high- speed rail terminal at this retreat. Three sites have been shortlisted: Jurong East, Tuas West and the city centre.

Malaysia is siting its terminus within the Bandar Malaysia project, which will transform the old Sungei Besi area - 3km from Kuala Lumpur's financial district - into a dynamic, connected township.

"The annual leaders' retreat is a key bilateral platform for the prime ministers to drive relations forward," said Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs in a statement released yesterday.

These regular meetings between the premiers, held annually since 2012, have yielded major agreements in recent years. It was at the 2013 retreat that the high-speed rail link, which will slash travel time between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore to just 90 minutes by 2020, was announced.

Last week, PM Lee stressed the importance of the rail link when he opened the new chancery of the Singapore High Commission in Kuala Lumpur.

"If we can get the high-speed rail going and running, this will be a very important project which will foster closer ties between our people," he said. "And then we can come up, have lunch and go back down to Singapore again."

The retreat will kick off tonight with Datuk Seri Najib and his wife, Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, being hosted to a private dinner by Mr Lee and his wife, Ms Ho Ching. Tomorrow, the two premiers and their respective delegations will meet for bilateral talks, where they will discuss ways to further enhance co-operation across a wide range of areas.

Mr Najib will also deliver a keynote address tomorrow night at the Economic Society of Singapore's annual dinner at the Shangri-La Hotel, which Mr Lee will be attending.

During the retreat, Mr Lee will be accompanied by Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean, who is also Coordinating Minister for National Security and Minister for Home Affairs.

The Singapore delegation includes Trade and Industry Minister Lim Hng Kiang, Communications and Information Minister Yaacob Ibrahim, National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen, Environment and Water Resources Minister Vivian Balakrishnan, Foreign Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam, Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew, Culture, Community and Youth Minister Lawrence Wong, and Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Masagos Zulkifli.

This article was first published on May 4, 2015.
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