PM Lee, Malaysian PM Najib to witness signing of JB-Singapore RTS Link agreement at leaders' retreat

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong with his Malaysian counterpart Najib Razak at the last Singapore-Malaysia leaders' retreat on Dec 13, 2016.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong with his Malaysian counterpart Najib Razak at the last Singapore-Malaysia leaders' retreat on Dec 13, 2016.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak will visit Singapore from Monday (Jan 15) to Tuesday to meet Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong for the eighth Singapore-Malaysia leaders' retreat.

The two leaders will meet on Tuesday for bilateral discussions, and witness the signing of a bilateral agreement for the Johor Baru-Singapore Rapid Transit System (RTS) Link, said Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) in a statement on Sunday.

Coordinating Minister for Infrastructure Khaw Boon Wan, who is also Transport Minister, and Malaysia's Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Abdul Rahman Dahlan will sign the legally binding agreement.

The cross-border MRT service is slated to start running by end-2024.

It can carry up to 10,000 passengers an hour in each direction between Johor's Bukit Chagar terminus station and the Singapore terminus in Woodlands North, where it will join the upcoming Thomson-East Coast Line.

"The RTS Link will help to boost connectivity, strengthen our economic and business links, and enhance people-to-people relations," said MFA.

Singapore train operator SMRT and Prasarana Malaysia - Malaysia's largest public transport provider - will form a joint venture company to operate the RTS Link for an initial 30-year concession period.

 
 

The MFA said the leaders' retreat is the key platform for both prime ministers to review progress in bilateral ties and set the direction going forward.

These regular meetings have yielded major bilateral breakthroughs, such as in 2013 when the high-speed rail line between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur was announced, and in 2010 when both sides resolved an impasse over land owned by Malayan Railway in Singapore.

Datuk Seri Najib will join PM Lee on Monday at the official opening of two mixed development projects built on land parcels that were part of the land swop deal under the Points of Agreement.

The two projects, which have a gross development value of about $11 billion combined, are Marina One in the Marina Bay financial district, and Duo in Ophir-Rochor.

Both are developed by M+S, a joint venture set up in 2011 between Malaysian strategic investment fund Khazanah Nasional and Singapore's Temasek Holdings.

"These two iconic projects will bring tangible, mutual benefits to both countries," said MFA.

Datuk Seri Najib will also call on President Halimah Yacob on Monday. PM Lee and Mrs Lee will host a private dinner for Datuk Seri Najib and his wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor later that evening.

During the retreat, Mr Lee will be accompanied by Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean and several Cabinet ministers, while a high-level delegation comprising several Malaysian Cabinet ministers and senior officials will join Datuk Seri Najib.

Originally scheduled for December, the leaders' retreat was pushed back after Datuk Seri Najib asked Mr Lee to delay it as he had to attend an emergency Organisation of Islamic Cooperation assembly in Turkey on Dec 13 over the United States' move to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.