Tuesday, June 22, 2010

S'pore, KL to follow up on land issue

PMs to discuss valuation, swap proposal in KL

(SINGAPORE) Singapore and Malaysian leaders are expected to follow up on the valuation of Malaysian railway land here and the proposal for a land swap when they meet in Kuala Lumpur today.

The meeting between Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his Malaysian counterpart Najib Razak comes barely a month after the two leaders met at a 'Leaders' Retreat' in Singapore.

The two leaders had emerged from last month's talks announcing a breakthrough in the impasse over the Points of Agreement signed in 1990. Big strides were made towards resolving the dispute over land owned by the Malayan Railway in Singapore.

The two prime ministers told reporters that they had agreed to move the existing railway station from Tanjong Pagar to the Woodlands train checkpoint by July 1, 2011. They had also sorted out how the redevelopment of the railway land left behind would be dealt with.

Last month's meeting further led to an agreement to set up a rapid transit system linking Johor Baru and Singapore by 2018. And the link is to be integrated with public transport system on both sides.

With an agreement on the Tanjong Pagar KTM station finally reached, the focus is now on developing the six parcels of Malayan Railway land. The land - with one parcel each in Tanjong Pagar, Kranji and Woodlands and three in Bukit Timah - is said to worth billions of dollars.

Singapore and Malaysia have already agreed to set up a company called M-S Pte Ltd to jointly develop the land. To be established by December at the latest, MS will be 60 per cent owned by the Malaysian government's investment holding arm Khazanah Nasional Berhad, with the remaining 40 per cent stake held by Singapore investment company Temasek Holdings.

One of the first step that could be taken, which Mr Lee suggested last month, is to obtain an updated valuation of the KTM land and make an offer to Mr Najib to swap the six land parcels for land of equivalent value in Marina South near the Marina Bay Sands integrated resort and/or the Ophir-Rochor area.

Mr Lee had said that he would make a trip to Kuala Lumpur in June to make such an offer to the Malaysian leader.

Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs indicated yesterday that Mr Lee would be accompanied during the one-day working trip by Foreign Affairs Minister George Yeo, National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan and Law and Second Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam.

It said that Mr Lee's meeting with Mr Najib is 'to follow up on bilateral issues discussed during the Singapore-Malaysia Leaders Retreat' in May.

A similar statement issued by Malaysia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, while saying there would be a 'four-eye' meeting between the two leaders, also added that they 'are expected to follow up on the valuation of lands and the proposal of the land swap' discussed last month.

Source: Business Times, 22 Jun 2010

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