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Saturday, September 17, 2011



Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew has expressed confidence in Datuk Seri Najib Razak as a prime minister who “wants to get on with the job” of improving bilateral ties following the Tanjong Pagar railway land settlement, the Singapore Straits Times reported today.The English daily said the influential Lee, a former PM of Singapore, sees promise in Malaysia’s Iskandar region and believes that there can be more successful co-operation between both countries by leveraging on the momentum created by the economic hub in south Johor.

“The Iskandar momentum could also lead to successive Malaysian prime ministers like the current Prime Minister Najib Razak,” the daily quoted Lee as saying.

He said there will be mutual benefits for both Malaysia and Singapore if the Iskandar project “develops properly”.

The long-serving former Singapore prime minister said this to reporters after a dialogue to mark the seventh anniversary of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy on the island state yesterday.

When questioned by a participant how he saw the future of Singapore’s ties with Malaysia and how leaders across the Johor straits could maintain the cordial relationship, Lee noted that it was a “complex problem” but voiced hope in the Najib administration.

It was under Najib’s watch, he pointed out, that the longstanding dispute over KTM Berhad’s Tanjong Pagar railway station was finally settled.

The land swap has been contentious since the Malaysia-Singapore Points of Agreement (POA) was signed in 1990 over the issue of the future of the railway land. The POA was signed between Lee and former Finance Minister Tun Daim Zanuddin.

Under the agreement, KTM was to vacate its historic railway station at Tanjong Pagar and move to Bukit Timah while all of KTM’s land between Bukit Timah and Tanjong Pagar would revert to Singapore.

Najib had committed to the agreement with Singapore during his May 2010 visit, calling it a “win-win” situation for both Southeast Asian neighbours.

At another forum recently, Lee had said he was pleased that Malaysia had honoured her agreement, adding that any attempt by Malaysia to retaliate over the return of the Tanjong Pagar railway land to the republic would have resulted in “war”.

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