Vivian starts official Malaysia visit today

Singapore's Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan will be in Malaysia for two days, beginning today, as part of an introductory visit to the region.

The trip comes at a time of warm bilateral ties, with several joint national projects on the table, including the high-speed rail (HSR) linking Singapore and Kuala Lumpur.

Dr Balakrishnan will make a courtesy call on Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak at Parliament House today, and will have high tea with his Malaysian counterpart Anifah Aman, Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) said in a statement yesterday.

Dr Balakrishnan will also have meetings with Defence Minister Hishammuddin Hussein, Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai, Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin and Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Azalina Othman.

He will call on Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi tomorrow, the MFA statement said.

The Foreign Minister made a two-day introductory visit to Brunei earlier this week.

The warm relations between Singapore and Malaysia can be gleaned from the booming trade ties and slate of ongoing bilateral projects, including rail connectivity links.

Singapore and Malaysia are each other's second largest trading partner after China, Datuk Seri Najib said when he visited Singapore in May. Bilateral trade between the two countries totalled RM209 billion (S$68 billion) last year.

Among the bilateral projects is the HSR, which will send people zipping between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur in 90 minutes. There will be seven stops in Malaysia and the 340km line is estimated to cost RM40 billion to build, previous reports said.

The two countries launched a request for information exercise this month to gather views from the industry on how to structure the HSR project commercially. It drew responses from some 150 firms, which are believed to include Japanese, Chinese, Korean, American and European consortia.

The Singapore end of the HSR link will be in Jurong East, while the Malaysian end will be in Bandar Malaysia, a township coming up at the edge of downtown Kuala Lumpur.

Another planned connectivity link is the Rail Transit System between Johor Baru and Singapore, which should cut traffic congestion at the Woodlands and Tuas land links. Singapore has said its terminus station will be in Woodlands North, near Republic Polytechnic, a stop on the Thomson-East Coast MRT line.

Meanwhile, sovereign funds Temasek Holdings and Khazanah Nasional are also carrying out two major property projects in Marina Bay and Bugis through jointly owned developer M+S.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 29, 2015, with the headline 'Vivian starts official Malaysia visit today'. Print Edition | Subscribe