Key highlights of Leaders' Retreat between PM Lee Hsien Loong and Malaysian PM Najib Razak

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (left) shakes hands with Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak during a joint press conference at the Prime Minister's Office in Putrajaya on Dec 13, 2016.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (left) shakes hands with Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak during a joint press conference at the Prime Minister's Office in Putrajaya on Dec 13, 2016.PHOTO: AFP

PUTRAJAYA - Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Malaysian PM Najib Razak issued a joint statement after their Leaders' Retreat in Putrajaya on Tuesday (Dec 13).

Apart from witnessing the signing of the agreement on the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High Speed Rail, and discussing the Johor Bahru-Singapore Rapid Transit System link, they talked of ways to strengthen ties in other areas.

The key highlights include:

Connectivity


A morning aerial view of Woodlands Checkpoint and the Causeway looking out towards Johor Bahru, Malaysia on March 3, 2015. PHOTO: ST FILE

Both leaders noted that Singapore and Malaysia are each other's second largest trading partners.

 
 

They also pointed to four areas of collaboration that a working group on industrial cooperation had discussed on Oct 27. These are: advanced materials engineering, electronics, food and creative services.

They reiterated a commitment to promote and explore further links between their countries.

They commended efforts to reduce congestion at the Causeway and Second Link, including rolling out automated immigration clearance facilities for motorcycles, such as Malaysia's M-Bike programme and Singapore's Biometric Identification of Motorbikers System (Bikes II).

The customs agencies of both countries have made progress towards reaching an agreement on training collaboration.

Technical and vocational education

Both leaders encouraged discussion on possible partnerships to promote technical and vocational education and training (TVET).

They lookforward to a "training of trainers" scheme next year that will be held by ITE Education Services with seven Johore-based institutes. The ITE Education Services will be supported by Temasek Foundation International.

Tourism


The mouth of Sungai Ular runs under a suspension bridge and through Pulau Kukup. PHOTO: ST FILE

The two leaders noted that good progress has been made in the area of tourism, adding that they look forward to promoting Singapore's Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve and Johor's Pulau Kukup as a joint ecotourism initiative.

It will start when upgrading works at Pulau Kukup are completed this year.

Both sides will also promote Asean as a travel destination when the regional grouping turns 50 next year.

Environment and haze

Both leaders noted that progress has been made in addressing the "recurring problem" of transboundary haze.

They reaffirmed their commitment to implement the Asean Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution, which has been ratified by all 10 Asean member states. The pact will help achieve the vision of a haze-free Asean by 2020.

Defence, plus urban search and rescue

The two leaders, in light of growing security challenges and threats, made a commitment to strengthen defence cooperation through regular exchanges, training courses and military exercises between their armed forces.

They said it was important to remain committed to multilateral initiatives, which include the Malacca Straits Patrol (MSP) and Asean Defence Ministers' Meeting.

They also welcomed cooperation between their countries' civil service.

Cooperation on urban search and rescue has increased between the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) and Special Malaysia Disaster Assistance and Rescue Team.

Eleven SCDF personnel had taken part in an exercise in August organised by Malaysia's Civil Defence Department and Civil Defence Training Academy.

Cultural exchange

Both sides expressed a desire to organise a joint cultural showcase regularly after the success of the Titian Budaya Cultural Festival held in Kuala Lumpur last year. The music, theatre, film and art extravaganza marked 50 years of friendship between Singapore and Malaysia.

The proposal is for a Malaysia-Singapore cultural showcase to be held every three years, with the inaugural event anticipated to be held with the Leaders' Retreat in 2018.