Malaysian PM Najib to attend leaders' retreat in Singapore on Jan 15

Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak walks beside his deputy Ahmad Zahid Hamidi during the United Malays National Organization (UMNO) general assembly in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on Dec 7, 2017.
Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak walks beside his deputy Ahmad Zahid Hamidi during the United Malays National Organization (UMNO) general assembly in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on Dec 7, 2017. PHOTO: REUTERS

KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak will attend the eighth Singapore-Malaysia leaders' retreat with his counterpart Lee Hsien Loong from Jan 15 to 16.

A Malaysian Foreign Affairs Ministry official told The Straits Times that the two-day meeting in Singapore had been confirmed after both sides had agreed to fix new dates for the retreat, which was originally scheduled for December.

Datuk Seri Najib had asked Mr Lee to delay their annual consultation as he had to attend an emergency Organisation of Islamic Cooperation assembly in Turkey on Dec 13, following the United States' move to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

The leaders are expected next week to discuss the construction of two rail links between the two countries - the 350km high-speed rail (HSR) between Jurong East and Kuala Lumpur and the Rapid Transit System (RTS) linking Woodlands with Johor Baru.

At the last leaders' retreat in Putrajaya in December 2016, Singapore and Malaysia had signed a historic agreement to construct the HSR, which will cut travel time between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore to 90 minutes.

A tender to design, finance and build the system that is slated to begin running in 2026 was called by both countries last month.

 

Both countries are also expected to sign an agreement on the RTS at the retreat. 

Their ministers had agreed in July 2017 that cross-border trains would start running by Dec 31, 2024, between Johor’s Bukit Chagar terminus station and the Singapore terminus in Woodlands North, where it will join the upcoming Thomson-East Coast Line (TEL).

The Sultan of Johor had however expressed misgivings over the decision to erect a 30-metre-high curved bridge over the Johor Strait, as it would disrupt the view of Johor Baru’s skyline. He later consented in November to a revised design comprising a 25-metre-high link.