Najib in Singapore for leaders' retreat with PM Lee

The two leaders will hold bilateral talks and witness inking of JB-S'pore rapid rail link pact

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong with his Malaysian counterpart Najib Razak at the last Singapore-Malaysia leaders' retreat on Dec 13, 2016. PHOTO: ST FILE

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak will be in Singapore for a two-day visit from today to meet Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong for the eighth Singapore-Malaysia leaders' retreat.

The two leaders will meet tomorrow for bilateral discussions, and witness the signing of a bilateral agreement for the Johor Baru-Singapore Rapid Transit System (RTS) Link, said Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) in a statement yesterday.

Coordinating Minister for Infrastructure Khaw Boon Wan, who is also Transport Minister, and Malaysia's Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Abdul Rahman Dahlan will sign the legally binding agreement.

The cross-border service is slated to start running by end-2024.

It can carry up to 10,000 passengers an hour in each direction between Johor's Bukit Chagar terminus and the Singapore terminus in Woodlands North, where it will join the upcoming Thomson-East Coast Line.

"The RTS Link will help to boost connectivity, strengthen our economic and business links, and enhance people-to-people relations," said the MFA.

Singapore train operator SMRT and Prasarana Malaysia will form a joint venture company to operate the RTS Link for the first concession period of 30 years.

The MFA said the leaders' retreat is the key platform for both prime ministers to review progress in bilateral ties and set the direction going forward.

These meetings have yielded major bilateral breakthroughs, such as in 2013 when the high-speed rail line between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur was announced, and in 2010 when both sides resolved an impasse over land owned by Malayan Railway here.

Datuk Seri Najib will join Mr Lee today at the official opening of two mixed-development projects built on land parcels that were part of the land swop deal under the Points of Agreement.

The two projects, which have a gross development value of about $11 billion combined, are Marina One in the Marina Bay financial district and Duo in the Ophir-Rochor area.

Both are developed by M+S, a joint venture set up in 2011 between Malaysian strategic investment fund Khazanah Nasional and Singapore's Temasek Holdings.

"These two iconic projects will bring tangible, mutual benefits to both countries," said the MFA.

Mr Najib will also call on President Halimah Yacob today. Mr Lee and Mrs Lee will host a private dinner for Mr Najib and his wife Rosmah Mansor this evening.

Mr Lee will be accompanied by Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean and several Cabinet ministers at the retreat, while a high-level delegation comprising several Malaysian Cabinet ministers and senior officials will join Mr Najib.

Originally scheduled for last month, the leaders' retreat was pushed back after Mr Najib asked Mr Lee to delay it as he had to attend an emergency Organisation of Islamic Cooperation assembly in Turkey on Dec 13 over the United States' move to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 15, 2018, with the headline Najib in Singapore for leaders' retreat with PM Lee. Subscribe