Singapore

Singapore, Malaysia work on deal to suspend JB-Woodlands rail link

Singapore to discuss Malaysia's request to suspend RTS link between JB and Woodlands for six months

Singapore and Malaysia are working towards a supplementary agreement to suspend a cross-border rail link.

Civil aviation authorities from both countries are also developing a Global Positioning System (GPS)-based instrument approach procedures for Seletar Airport.

These moves were announced by Singapore's Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan at a press conference with his Malaysian counterpart Anthony Loke at Kuala Lumpur International Airport yesterday, after they met to discuss bilateral transport matters.

The meeting comes ahead of today's Singapore-Malaysia Leaders' Retreat in Putrajaya, when prime ministers Lee Hsien Loong and Mahathir Mohamad will meet to discuss bilateral matters, before being joined by their ministers.

Mr Khaw, who is part of the Singapore delegation, said the Attorneys-General and officials from both countries are working on an agreement to effect a suspension of the Rapid Transit System (RTS) link between Johor Baru and Woodlands.

He noted that Malaysia has requested a six-month suspension of the 4km RTS link so it can review key parameters of the project. "We will approach this issue as we did for the suspension of the HSR (High-Speed Rail) project, with goodwill and reasonable accommodation," he said.

Singapore and Malaysia had last year agreed to a two-year suspension of the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore HSR project, with Malaysia paying Singapore $15 million for abortive costs incurred due to the suspension.

Asked if Malaysia will need to pay compensation to Singapore if the project is suspended, Mr Loke said "there is some cost involved", and this will be determined by a review.

On the new GPS-based procedures at Seletar Airport, Mr Khaw said this will replace the Instrument Landing System (ILS) procedure that Singapore has withdrawn. He added that the procedures are expected to be published soon and will improve safety for flights using Seletar.

Both sides had announced on Saturday that Malaysia has indefinitely suspended its permanent restricted area, while Singapore withdrew the ILS from Seletar Airport.

The agreement paves the way for Malaysian carrier Firefly to begin flying into Singapore, more than four months after its flights were suspended.

Mr Loke said Firefly will resume its operations to Singapore on April 21. He added that Malaysian airline Malindo is also interested in flying to Seletar and has applied to do so.

The dispute over Seletar surfaced last November, when Firefly announced that it would not move from Changi Airport to Seletar on Dec 1 - as it had earlier agreed to.

Malaysia's civil aviation regulator had objected to the move, citing the ILS, which was put in place at Firefly's request.

Malaysia subsequently declared a restricted zone over Pasir Gudang for the purpose of military activities.

On Jan 8, both countries agreed to suspend the restricted area at Pasir Gudang and the ILS for Seletar for a month. This was later extended till the end of March.

Yesterday, Mr Khaw also said a high-level committee has been set up to review the existing arrangement where Singapore air traffic controllers manage airspace over southern Johor. Malaysia has said it wants to reclaim management of this airspace.

Meanwhile, the two countries yesterday mutually suspended the implementation of their overlapping port limits, reverting to what was in place before Oct 25 and Dec 6, respectively.

Both sides will set up a joint committee and begin negotiations for maritime boundary delimitation in the area.

The two countries have been embroiled in a dispute over Singapore's territorial waters off Tuas since late last year.

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Transport