Mega reclamation project off Johor raises concerns

Mega reclamation project off Johor raises concerns

Singapore has expressed concern to Malaysia over a proposal for a massive reclamation project to create an island in the Strait of Johor below the Second Link.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) confirmed yesterday that Singapore has asked for more information so it can study the possible impact on the Republic and the strait. "They have agreed to do so and we hope to receive the information soon," a spokesman said in response to media queries.

A report in the Malaysian daily The Star yesterday said that Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has written to his Malaysian counterpart, Datuk Seri Najib Razak, about the project.

That was a follow-up to two diplomatic notes on the matter sent to Malaysia's Foreign Ministry last month, the paper said. A third note was handed to Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Wahid Omar when he visited Singapore recently, it added.

The Star reported last Monday that China property developer Country Garden Holdings and a Johor government company, Kumpulan Prasarana Rakyat Johor, were planning the reclamation project called Forest City for luxury homes.

The idea to create a 2,000ha island - nearly three times the size of Ang Mo Kio estate - will take 30 years to complete, Mr Kayson Yuen, Country Garden's regional president for the project, told the paper. A project map showed part of the man-made island under the Second Link, which connects Tuas in Singapore to Johor.

The Edge Review online magazine reported last month that Johor's Sultan Ibrahim Ismail Sultan Iskandar was behind the project, which was being promoted actively by powerful Johor politicians.

Mr Yuen told The Star that his Hong Kong-listed company had studied the project for more than a year before deciding to invest in it, and that an Australian consultant and local contractors had been hired for the reclamation works.

Singapore's MFA said yesterday: "Given Johor's close proximity to Singapore, we are naturally concerned about any possible transboundary impact on Singapore from property development projects that involve reclamation works in the Strait of Johor.

"There are also international obligations for both the Malaysian and Singapore authorities to work closely on such matters. We have asked the Malaysian authorities to provide more information, so that we can undertake a study as soon as possible on the impacts of these reclamation works on Singapore and the Strait. They have agreed to do so and we hope to receive the information soon."

The Star said yesterday there has been no indication that the parties behind the reclamation works submitted environment impact assessment reports to the government.

It noted, however, that reclamation works smaller than 50ha in land area need not submit environmental impact studies.

The Edge Review magazine had claimed in its report last month that the man-made island may be dissected by canals into smaller

This article was first published on June 23, 2014.
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