SINGAPORE-MALAYSIA LEADERS’ RETREAT POSSIBLY IN OCTOBER
On bilateral ties with Singapore, Mr Ismail Sabri said he looks forward to meeting Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong during the next leaders’ retreat.
“It should be in October. Based on the agreement between me and PM Lee, we agree that the retreat will continue as usual. Our suggestion is October.”
“Based on the schedule, yes (it will go ahead), but anything can happen,” he said.
The last leaders’ retreat was held in Putrajaya in April 2019 between Mr Lee and then prime minister Mahathir Mohamad.
Mr Ismail Sabri also said on Monday that he hoped to speed up discussion on reviving the high speed rail project linking Kuala Lumpur and Singapore.
“Currently, our minister of transport is in discussions with the Singaporean minister for transport. (It’s an) ongoing process, ongoing discussion. God willing,” he said.
“If possible, we want to be faster, as at the same time, Malaysia is also planning to create an HSR between Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok. If can, we want to link Kuala Lumpur-Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur-Singapore.”
He added: “In the future, based on our plan, perhaps it can be linked to China. Progress for a train (route) from China to Bangkok is ongoing, so if possible, we link straight from Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, and maybe until China. That’s why we want to hasten the planning.”
The HSR project, which aimed to reduce travel time between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur to about 90 minutes, was discontinued after the agreement lapsed on Dec 31, 2020.
In September 2018, both sides agreed to postpone the construction of the HSR until end-May 2020, after Dr Mahathir told reporters he had considered Malaysia’s financial situation and how it would not benefit from the project.
Malaysia later requested a further seven-month extension to allow both sides to discuss and assess Malaysia’s proposed changes to the project.
But both sides could not agree on new terms, including Malaysia’s request to remove an assets company that would run the railway, and the agreement lapsed. Malaysia paid more than S$102 million in compensation to Singapore for the terminated project.
Last year, Malaysia suggested reviving discussions on the terminated project. At that time, Mr Lee said that Singapore is open to fresh proposals from Malaysia on the project.
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