Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Wellness township project to be launched within 12 months

Khazanah, Temasek to jointly develop 200 ha site in Johor

(SINGAPORE) A huge 200 hectare site - the size of 374 football fields - will be set aside for a joint 'wellness township' that Singapore and Malaysia plan to build.

The township, in Johor's Iskandar Malaysia zone, will be developed by a 50-50 joint venture set up by the Malaysian government's investment company Khazanah Nasional and Singapore's state investment company Temasek Holdings.

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his Malaysian counterpart Najib Razak said at a news conference after their retreat yesterday that the private sectors in both countries will be invited to take part in the project, which is expected to be launched within 12 months.

The idea of a wellness township was first mooted during an official visit to Singapore by Mr Najib in April last year. He said yesterday: 'We agreed that there must be real and substantive progress on this development, and today's meeting has defined the framework and concept.'

The project will offer holistic wellness services and facilities, such as alternative medicine and traditional healing.

During a closed-door retreat at the Shangri-La Hotel, the leaders also discussed the controversial water issue - in particular, the first water agreement between the two neighbours that is set to expire on Aug 31 next year.

Mr Lee said that the Skudai Water Works treatment plant in Johor, which Singapore has been using to extract water from the river, will be handed over to Malaysia 'in good working order' without any charge.

The idea of a third bridge linking the two countries - first floated when Mr Lee and Mr Najib met a year ago in Singapore - was also raised briefly during yesterday's news conference, when a Malaysian reporter asked Mr Najib for an update on whether the project could take flight.

Responding, Mr Najib said that the third link - in addition to the Causeway and the Second Link - was envisaged as a 'long-term project'.

'Our immediate priority is to maximise the usage of the Second Link, so we don't have any time frame with respect to the third link,' he said.

During last year's meeting with Mr Lee, Mr Najib proposed the construction of a bridge linking the eastern side of Johor - from Pengerang and Desaru - to Singapore in view of the increasing movements between both countries.

Source: Business Times, 25 May 2010

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