Singapore and Malaysia ministers discuss environment at meeting
Singapore and Malaysia's government agencies engaged in discussions over emissions, water quality in the Johor Strait, emergency responses for chemical spills and environmental training programmes yesterday, led by ministers from the two neighbouring countries.
The 31st Malaysia-Singapore Annual Exchange of Visits between Singapore's Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources and Malaysia's Ministry of Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change however did not discuss the regional haze issue.
Singapore Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli and Ms Yeo Bee Yin, Malaysia's Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Minister, said they did not discuss the Asean transboundary haze agreement, despite a regional meeting set for early next month in Myanmar.
"We don't work bilaterally to address a multilateral issue," Mr Masagos said of the agreement.
"We are appreciative there has not been an episode of intense bad haze for the last few years," he added, congratulating Indonesia for "putting feet on the ground" to stem the problem.
Ms Yeo said she is "expecting one-step improvement" at a time during each round of haze meetings.
Both countries agreed to hold regular joint field exercises to test the effectiveness of their emergency response plan to deal with chemical spills at the Malaysia-Singapore second crossing and the Johor Strait.
They also discussed land reclamation works at the strait and their potential adverse impact on the environment.
The meetings also saw deep discussion in moving towards "zero waste", with Malaysia studying whether it can apply some of Singapore's ideas.
Mr Masagos said Singapore has pursued a strategy of "co-creating solutions" with the public, such as using technology to make it simple for them to separate waste.
In an informal meeting with Malaysia's Water, Land and Natural Resources Minister Xavier Jayakumar, Mr Masagos also discussed the joint hydrometric modelling study of Johor River, which was first announced by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and then Malaysian premier Najib Razak at the eighth Singapore-Malaysia Leaders' Retreat in Singapore in January.