SINGAPORE: Singapore prime minister Lee Hsien Loong and his Malaysian counterpart Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak have reaffirmed that both countries are fully committed to the success of the high speed rail (HSR) project linking the republic and Kuala Lumpur.
In a joint statement released after the Singapore-Malaysian Leaders’ Retreat here, however, both leaders said the project’s initial completion target of 2020 needed to be re-assessed given the scale and complexity of the project.
The HSR is the first of its kind in the region and has received considerable attention, both domestically and internationally, with many countries offering to share their experience and expertise for the project.
Both leaders are encouraged by the support and attention from the global community, and looked forward to further progress on this game-changing iconic project, which will boost connectivity, facilitate travel between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore, whilst enhancing business linkages, and improve people to people ties.
Noting the steady progress on the project, the leaders said that agreements had been reached on the dual co-located Customs, Immigration and Quarantine (CIQ) configuration, the frequency bands to be reserved for HSR operations, as well as locating the depot and stabling facilities in Malaysia.
Meanwhile, Lee announced that the Singapore HSR terminus will be sited at Jurong East, which dovetails with Singapore’s overall plans to transform the area into its second Central Business District.
Touching on Iskandar Malaysia, both leaders reaffirmed the strategic importance of the region for both countries and welcomed the progress made by the Work Groups under the Joint Ministerial Committee for Iskandar Malaysia (JMC).
They took note of the decision by the JMC to conduct a study on Causeway congestion with a view to exploring measures to further enhance connectivity between the two countries.
Both Leaders commended the efforts by the Immigration Work Group of the JMC to reduce congestion at the Causeway and the Singapore-Malaysia Second Link while taking security requirements into account.
Both countries have committed to reducing congestion and have taken steps to achieve this.
The statement said Singapore is automating all motorcycle counters at the Woodlands and Tuas Checkpoints by the end of 2016, compared to about a quarter currently.
Automated counters at the Singapore checkpoint will speed up motorcycle immigration clearance by up to 30 per cent and help reduce congestion for all checkpoint users.
Malaysia is studying the introduction of RFID (Radio Frequency ID) stickers in passports for Malaysian motorcyclists to allow for faster self-clearance at the Causeway.
According to the statement, both sides are also working towards increasing daily laden train services between Johor Baharu and Woodlands Train Checkpoint.
In addition, Singapore is also developing a BioScreen project to capture and tag biometric identifiers of visitors to facilitate immigration clearance at the Singapore checkpoints.
The leaders also welcomed the signing of the Supplemental Agreement to the Agreement for the Construction and Operation of a Ferry Terminal and the Operation of a Ferry Service between Peninsular Malaysia and Singapore.
They stressed the importance of strengthening bilateral economic cooperation, and discussed the opportunities and challenges in business and industrial cooperation, noting the good progress made by the Industrial Cooperation Work Group (ICWG) under the JMC.
They affirmed the benefits to Iskandar Malaysia from cooperation in manufacturing and other industrial activities, and looked forward to the holistic and comprehensive development of Iskandar Malaysia by leveraging on the complementarities between Iskandar Malaysia and Singapore.
The leaders called on the ICWG to continue its efforts to strengthen the Singapore-Malaysia ecosystem through approaching companies with synergistic investment linkages across both countries, particularly in advanced materials engineering, electronics, creative services, and food industries.
The Leaders agreed to work together to realise the full implementation of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) measures before the end of the year and to further deepen economic integration beyond 2015.