Tuesday, June 22, 2010

PM Lee in KL to discuss land swop proposal

PUTRAJAYA: Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong will meet his Malaysian counterpart, Datuk Seri Najib Razak, here today to discuss terms for a land swop linked to Malayan Railway (KTM) land in Singapore.

If they succeed in ironing out details of the land swop, both countries will finally break the impasse over the railway land issue that has dogged ties for 20 years.

Today's meeting between the two leaders was announced by the foreign ministries of the two countries in separate statements yesterday.

The Singapore statement said it was to follow up on the bilateral issues the leaders had discussed in Singapore last month.

During those talks, a breakthrough was achieved when both sides agreed, among other things, to move the existing railway station in Tanjong Pagar to Woodlands by July next year.

After the relocation, the land owned by Malayan Railway in Singapore would be jointly developed.

Six parcels of land are involved - one parcel each in Tanjong Pagar, Kranji and Woodlands, and three in Bukit Timah.

There is an option, however, to swop these parcels of land for land of equivalent value in the Marina South and the Ophir-Rochor areas.

Mr Lee, in explaining last month the need for a separate meeting to iron out the terms of the proposed land swop, had observed that Singapore's property market has been 'quite active' and that both sides should obtain updated valuations.

Based on its new valuation, Singapore will make Malaysia an offer today.

It will be up to Malaysia to decide if it wants to accept the offer, Mr Lee had said last month.

The joint development of the land parcels, including the railway land, will be undertaken by a company to be set up by the end of this year.

To be called M-S Pte Ltd, the company will be 60 per cent owned by Khazanah Nasional Berhad, the investment holding arm of Malaysia, and the remainder 40 per cent will be held by Singapore investment company Temasek Holdings.

Commenting on Mr Lee's working visit, the Malaysian Foreign Affairs Ministry said in its statement yesterday: 'The visit will also further strengthen bilateral relations between the two countries.'

It also said Mr Lee will co-chair the 'four-eyes' meeting with Mr Najib, and added: 'Both prime ministers will subsequently hold a joint press conference.'

In the evening, Mr Najib will host Mr Lee and the Singapore delegation to dinner.

Accompanying Mr Lee on his one-day visit are three ministers and officials from various ministries, said the Singapore statement.

The trio are Foreign Affairs Minister George Yeo, National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan and Law Minister and Second Minister for Home Affairs K. Shanmugam.

If an agreement is reached today, a high-level joint team will sort out the implementation details.

From there, a written instrument will be produced to be signed by both countries upon approval of their respective governments.

Source: Straits Times, 22 Jun 2010

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