KTM relocation under way

Work is under way to implement the Points of Agreement (POA) which will see the Malaysian railway (KTM) station in Tanjong Pagar move to Woodlands Train Checkpoint by July 1, 2011.

Minister for Foreign Affairs George Yeo said this in Parliament, during his ministry’s Committee of Supply debate.

Mr Yeo said a schedule of implementation has been drawn up, adding that work on some aspects of the implementation has also started.

The deal struck by the Prime Ministers of Singapore and Malaysia in September last year was described as a “breakthrough” in bilateral relations.

The two leaders agreed on the implementation of the POA which had been “outstanding for almost 20 years”.

Mr Yeo said the July 1 deadline for the KTM railway station to move from Tanjong Pager to Woodlands is a “firm deadline.”

Already, he said work on some aspects of the implementation has started.

Several developments along the main railway line including the redevelopment of Silat Estate and the expansion of One North business park at Buona Vista will begin after July 1.

The question of development charges payable on land in Tanjong Pagar, Kranji and Woodlands will be settled by the Permanent Court of Arbitration.

“When KTMB moves out of Tanjong Pagar, the Singapore government would vest in M-S Pte Ltd, a 60-40 joint venture company formed between Khazanah and Temasek, four land parcels in Marina South and two in Ophir-Rochor,” said Mr Yeo.

Other initiatives agreed between both sides in the Joint Statement of May 24, 2010 include the joint development of a rapid transit system link between JB and Singapore.

It also includes Singapore’s handing over the waterworks under the 1961 Water Agreement to the Johor authorities free of charge and in good working order on 31 August 2011.

In addition, Khazanah and Temasek will set up a 50-50 joint venture company to undertake the development of an iconic project in Iskandar Malaysia. Khazanah and Temasek are looking to launch the project in May 2011.

“Settling the POA was not a simple matter,” Mr Yeo said.

“It took a few years of careful negotiations — a lot of it, quiet, a lot of it looking for win-win political and economic outcomes on both sides and being mindful of the domestic commentary in Malaysia.

“The key was (Malaysian) Prime Minister Najib’s leadership and his relationship with our own Prime Minister, and I believe this will continue.

“I once had a discussion with a Malaysian friend and I told him, ‘we are more likely to have our elections before yours’. He smiled. We don’t know yet, but I think it’s likely to be, and I hope — in fact, I’m quite sure — that both sides will win handsomely and this good relationship will continue,” Mr Yeo said.

Beyond relations with neighbouring states, Mr Yeo also stressed on Singapore’s heavy dependence on external relations.

He said the world is moving towards a messier multipolar reality and in this fluid situation, it’s crucial to strengthen ASEAN.

One issue highlighted is the continuing turmoil in the Middle East, which Mr Yeo described as “history in the making”.

He added it’s something Singapore needs to adjust to and cut its losses if needed.

Singapore’s economic and political links with countries in the Middle East have grown significantly in the past eight years, reaching an all-time high of S$44 billion last year.

Source : Channel NewsAsia – 3 Mar 2011

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