KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysian Transport Minister Wee Ka Siong on Saturday (May 2) announced that the bilateral agreement deadline for the Johor Baru-Singapore Rapid Transit System (RTS) Link project has been extended by three months to July 31.
Datuk Seri Wee said this is due to many economic and social sectors being adversely affected during the Covid-19 pandemic.
"I had discussed the status of the bilateral agreement closely and constantly with my counterpart, Honourable Minister Khaw Boon Wan. We have come to a mutual agreement to extend the bilateral discussions by three months to 31 July 2020, after the previous April 30 deadline," Mr Wee said in a statement.
He added that both governments are confident that the discussions, to be conducted via video-conferencing if necessary, can be concluded within the next three months so that the RTS Link project can be resumed.
In a Facebook post on Saturday, Mr Khaw, who is Singapore's Transport Minister, said there have been active bilateral discussions on Malaysia's proposed changes to the project since April. But the pace of bilateral discussions has been affected by several events including the change of government in Malaysia, and now the Covid-19 pandemic.
"At Malaysia's request, we have agreed to further extend the suspension, for a third and final time, to 31 July 2020. As this is a final extension, I have asked our teams (MOT, LTA and SMRT) to work immediately with their Malaysian counterparts to wrap up the discussions speedily."
"Fortunately, technology is available for us to discuss and negotiate, though nothing quite replaces face-to-face dialogue. But it can't be helped, this is an unusual time! I look forward to co-witnessing with Minister Wee Ka Siong the signing of the three agreements which will enable the RTS Link Project to restart."
In a press release on Saturday, Singapore's Ministry of Transport (MOT) confirmed the extension of the projection suspension.
"Like Malaysia, we are optimistic that the discussions on the outstanding matters can be concluded within three months, using tele-conferencing and other means of communication.
"The task is to conclude all the three key agreements in time so that they can be signed by 31 July 2020," MOT said.
The three key agreements refer to the RTS Link Bilateral Agreement between the two governments, the joint venture agreement between Singapore's SMRT Corporation and Malaysia's Prasarana Malaysia to constitute a joint venture operating company, and a concession agreement for the two governments to appoint this operating company as the RTS Link operator.
MOT, the Land Transport Authority and SMRT will shortly contact their Malaysian counterparts to wrap up the discussions speedily, as this is the final extension, the MOT statement added.