Malaysian Foreign Minister Saifuddin says high-speed rail, water issues with Singapore can be tackled

Malaysian Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah noted that bilateral relations between Singapore and Malaysia can be boosted further, and should not be hindered by issues such as the High-Speed Rail project and the 1962 water agreement.
Malaysian Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah noted that bilateral relations between Singapore and Malaysia can be boosted further, and should not be hindered by issues such as the High-Speed Rail project and the 1962 water agreement.ST PHOTO: SHANNON TEOH JM

SINGAPORE (BERNAMA) - Bilateral relations between Malaysia and Singapore are at a very good level, Malaysian Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah said on Monday (July 30).

He said both governments saw the high-speed rail (HSR) project and the 1962 water agreement as issues that need to be tackled, but that they should not be obstacles to maintaining good relations.

Datuk Saifuddin noted that Malaysia and Singapore want to further boost bilateral relations.

Mr Saifuddin is in Singapore on his first official visit to the Republic, at the invitation of his Singapore counterpart, Dr Vivian Balakrishnan.

Mr Saifuddin's trip is also part of a series of introductory visits after he was sworn in as the new foreign minister on July 2.

He was accompanied by officials from the ministry.

He had, earlier in the afternoon, called on Singapore President Halimah Yacob and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong after being hosted to lunch by Dr Balakrishnan.

According to Mr Saifuddin, the HSR and water issues were raised during his meeting with Dr Balakrishnan and Mr Lee.

 
 
 
 

"I tried my level best to explain the situation. We are looking at the big picture. As far as our bilateral relations (are concerned)... our ties are strong and we want to work hard to bring them to greater heights," said Mr Saifuddin, who was scheduled to call on Singapore Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean on Tuesday.

He said he had informed the Singapore leaders that on July 23, Economic Affairs Minister Mohamed Azmin Ali had written to his Singapore counterpart, saying that he will be travelling to Singapore to discuss the HSR project.

"It will take place very soon," said Mr Saifuddin, adding that he had "stated the fact that we want to sit down and discuss".

On the 1962 water agreement, Mr Saifuddin said he had underlined the fact that there can be a review as this was stated in the agreement.

"There is a clause about review that surely we can look at," he said, adding that he understood that Singapore had its own perspective.

"They brought up the issue of water treatment. I think proposals and counterproposals can be brought to the table when we have a proper discussion."

Mr Saifuddin said there were discussions in the past, but there had been no progress then.

"Surely we can continue the discussion. The agreement says the content of the agreement can be reviewed after 25 years. It doesn't mean at 25 years... so we can continue talking," he added.