Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Mohd Najib Tun Abdul Razak and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong met in Putrajaya on 5 January 2012 for the Malaysia-Singapore Leaders’ Retreat. The Prime Ministers expressed satisfaction at the positive state of bilateral relations, including the growing trade and investment ties, and discussed a wide range of existing and potential areas for cooperation. They also reaffirmed their commitment to strengthening cooperation bilaterally and within ASEAN, and welcomed closer interaction between both countries at all levels.
2. The Prime Ministers commended the officials of Malaysia and Singapore for their close and effective cooperation which led to the smooth and successful implementation, on 1 July 2011, of the Points of Agreement on Malayan Railway Land in Singapore as supplemented by the Joint Statement on Singapore-Malaysia Leaders’ Retreat of 24 May 2010. Recalling the historical significance of this event, both Leaders observed that the resolution of this longstanding issue has paved the way for the two countries to explore new areas of cooperation.
3. Both Leaders welcomed the signing on 27 June 2011 in Putrajaya of the Agreement to Implement the Points of Agreement on Malayan Railway Land in Singapore and the Joint Statement on Singapore-Malaysia Leaders’ Retreat of 24 May 2010, and expressed satisfaction at the progress on the implementation of the various cooperative projects set out in the said Agreement.
4. The Prime Ministers were pleased with the collaboration between Khazanah Nasional Berhad and Temasek Holdings (Private) Limited through joint investments in M+S Pte Ltd in Singapore, as well as Pulau Indah Ventures Sdn Bhd in Iskandar Malaysia which reflects the spirit of close partnership between the two countries. M+S Pte Ltd has submitted designs for the Marina South and Ophir-Rochor developments in Singapore for planning approvals. Both Leaders witnessed the exchange of the Shareholders’ Agreements in relation to M+S Pte Ltd and Pulau Indah Ventures Sdn Bhd, and viewed the models and concept plans of a 5 acre site for the “Urban Wellness” project in Medini North and the 210 acre site for a “Resort Wellness” development in Medini Central, both in Iskandar Malaysia.
5. The Prime Ministers recognised the good work done by the Joint Ministerial Committee for Iskandar Malaysia in fostering bilateral cooperation in areas such as connectivity, immigration, tourism and the environment:
· Good progress has been made on the Rapid Transit System (RTS) link between Singapore and Johor Bahru, which is targeted to be operational by 2018. A tender was jointly called on 18 November 2011 to appoint a consultant to undertake a Joint Engineering Study to develop possible alignments and proposals for the RTS link;
· Officials from both countries are studying international best practices to implement a dual co-located Customs, Immigration and Quarantine (CIQ) system to complement the RTS link;
· Five new cross-border bus services have been implemented since September 2010 and both sides are working towards liberalising cross-border taxis on the domestic leg of the journey;
· Both sides have reduced toll charges for the Second Link by 30% with effect from 1 August 2010, contributing to an increase of about 10% in traffic using the Second Link;
· The Prime Ministers agreed that the Joint Ministerial Committee will also explore the possibility of establishing ferry and water taxi services as another means of transportation between the two countries;
· Good progress has been made on tourism collaboration, in particular, eco-tourism. A study has been completed on the development and marketing of a trans-boundary, joint eco-tourism attraction involving Singapore’s Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve and Iskandar Malaysia’s three Ramsar sites of Sungai Pulai, Pulau Kukup and Tanjung Piai. Both countries are looking into the manner in which the proposals may be implemented, subject to commercial viability, with the first phase focusing on Pulau Kukup and Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve; and
· On the environment, officials from both countries have been sharing experiences and jointly developing plans for river cleaning in Iskandar Malaysia. Both sides pledged to continue co-operating in capacity building programmes to enhance the skills and knowledge of officials involved in environmental management, and to keep each other informed in a timely manner of developments affecting each other’s environment.
6. The Prime Ministers agreed that the Joint Ministerial Committee should explore more ways to enhance collaboration in Iskandar Malaysia for the mutual benefit of the two countries. To this end, both Leaders directed for a new work group on industrial cooperation to be formed under the Joint Ministerial Committee to promote mutually beneficial twinning of economic activities between Iskandar Malaysia and Singapore. The Leaders also welcomed the initiatives pursued by the Malaysia-Singapore Business Council towards further enhancing trade and investment collaboration, including promoting Singapore investments into other economic corridors in Malaysia.
7. The Prime Ministers were pleased with the smooth handover of the waterworks under the 1961 Water Agreement by Singapore free of charge and in good working order to the Johor water authorities after the expiry of the 1961 Water Agreement on 31 August 2011. Both countries affirmed the terms of the 1962 Water Agreement, under which Singapore is given the full and exclusive right to draw up to a maximum of 250 million gallons of water per day from the Johor River until the Agreement expires in 2061. Both Leaders commended the Singapore and Johor water authorities for their excellent working relationship, and took note of the importance to implement the necessary measures to ensure reliable water supply as provided for under the 1962 Water Agreement.
8. The Prime Ministers also discussed other potential areas for mutually beneficial collaboration between the two countries. These included:
· Alignment of the radio frequency spectrum plans in both countries for digital broadcast and mobile broadband services. This alignment will allow both countries to meet growing demand for digital TV and mobile broadband, improve regional mobile roaming, and provide more competitive mobile broadband services. Both Leaders agreed to work towards greater harmonisation of spectrum in the Asia Pacific region for digital broadcast and mobile broadband services;
· Cooperation in aviation and airport services, in particular business cooperation between Senai International Airport in Johor and Changi International Airport in Singapore. Both Leaders encouraged the respective airport corporations to explore commercially viable cooperation that would provide synergy between the two airports and spill-over to business enterprises from Malaysia and Singapore; and
· Cooperation in higher education, technical and vocational education, and teaching and learning of the English Language. Acknowledging the development of educational institutions in Iskandar Malaysia and Pagoh, Johor, both Leaders welcomed Singapore-based private educational institutions to explore opportunities, including setting up campuses there.
9. Acknowledging the significant improvement in government-to-government and business-to-business relations, the Prime Ministers agreed to reinforce bilateral ties by expanding people-to-people relations. Both Leaders were pleased with the success of a joint concert “Muzika Extravaganza”, which has been organised annually by Radio Televisyen Malaysia and MediaCorp Singapore. Both Leaders also directed officials to look into further collaboration in the fields of information, culture, arts, youth and sports with the view to enhancing mutual goodwill and understanding between Malaysians and Singaporeans.