PMs discuss KL-Singapore high speed rail terminals and faster cross border checks

Ministers from Singapore and Malaysia at a meeting in Putrajaya to discuss ways to further enhance cooperation between the two countries on April 7, 2014. -- PHOTO: ZAOBAO
Ministers from Singapore and Malaysia at a meeting in Putrajaya to discuss ways to further enhance cooperation between the two countries on April 7, 2014. -- PHOTO: ZAOBAO
Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his Malaysian counterpart Najib Razak wrap up the Malaysia-Singapore leaders' retreat after a press conference in Putrajaya on April 7, 2014. -- PHOTO: ZAOBAO
Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his Malaysian counterpart Najib Razak wrap up the Malaysia-Singapore leaders' retreat after a press conference in Putrajaya on April 7, 2014. -- PHOTO: ZAOBAO

PUTRAJAYA: Tuas West and Jurong East are two locations being considered for the Singapore terminal of the proposed high speed rail linking Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Monday.

A third option being considered is the city centre, though this will be more challenging to do because of the cost and land required, he said.

"I shared some of the considerations and possibilities with the Prime Minister, and this is something that we are working on and we will decide within the next year or so," said PM Lee.

He was speaking at a joint press conference with his Malaysian counterpart Najib Razak, wrapping up a two-day Malaysia-Singapore leaders' retreat here.

Malaysia has decided to locate its terminal at Bandar Malaysia, the current site of Malaysia's air force base at Sungai Besi, said Prime Minister Najib.

Both prime ministers spoke on the progress of the high speed rail, which was first mooted at last year's retreat in Singapore, while also emphasising that the goal to have it completed by 2020 is an ambitious one.

When asked if there was a need to push back the target, Mr Najib said it was too early to revise, and that "it was designed to be ambitious to begin with" as it would help to focus both sides on it.

The two leaders also discussed the importance of the development of Iskandar Malaysia to the economies of both countries, and other ways to improve connectivity.

PM Lee said: "We agreed that it is important to develop the Iskandar Malaysia project comprehensively, not just in services, not just in residential properties... but also in manufacturing, in industries, in order to create jobs to attract investments, to have an organic, comprehensive, dynamic centre for economic vitality in Johor which will benefit Malaysia and Singapore."

A new initiative they announced to speed up movement across the border, is to have only a single check point at the border, by combining both Singapore and Malaysia's customs and immigration points at one location.

Mr Najib noted that this is already practiced between France and the United Kingdom, and between Germany and Poland in Europe.

"It will be the first in this part of the world. It will certainly enhance connectivity and the flow of goods and services and people between our two countries," he said.

He also said that there are long term plans for a "friendship bridge" as another road link between the two countries.

But Mr Lee said that Singapore's "pre-occupation" is to first improve the current customs and immigration checks at the border, where the queue is "very long".

"For the long term, I can imagine and foresee that at some point we will have to widen the links across the Straits of Johor. And we should study now how we can develop for the long term a new link," he said.