MYS-SIN to consider arbitration to resolve long-standing water issue amicably
PUTRAJAYA: Malaysia and Singapore may consider arbitration to resolve the long-standing water price issue, involving both countries.
In a joint statement from the prime ministers of Malaysia and Singapore (see below for full text), the two countries pledged to resolve the matter amicably, despite differing positions on the right to review the price of water under the 1962 agreement.
Both Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Singapore’s Lee Hsien Loong agreed for the Attorney-Generals of Malaysia and Singapore to discuss the differing positions.
“The leaders noted both sides’ interest to identify an appropriate and timely measure, including schemes to increase the yield of the Johor River and to safeguard its environmental position and water quality,” the statement read.
The statement was issued following the annual Malaysia-Singapore leaders’ retreat, which was held at the Prime Minister's Office here on Tuesday (April 9).
Other issues discussed at the retreat included airspace, maritime border, cross-border rail and congestion at the Johor Causeway.
The leaders welcomed the agreement between Singapore and Malaysia for the republic to withdraw the Instrument Landing System (ILS) procedures for Seletar Airport, and for Malaysia to suspend the Restricted Area (RA) over Pasir Gudang indefinitely.
In turn, this will allow flights approaching and departing Seletar Airport to be based on visual approach, in accordance with the Singapore aeronautical information publication.
On the issue of maritime boundary, Dr Mahathir and Lee welcomed the progress made in implementing the recommendation of the working group on maritime issues surrounding Johor Baru port limits off Tanjung Piai and Singapore port limits off Tuas.
On the Johor Baru-Singapore Rapid Transit System (RTS) link project, Singapore has agreed to consider Malaysia's proposal to suspend the project for six months, with effect from April 1.
To reduce congestion on the Johor Causeway and the Second Link, Dr Mahathir and Lee agreed to explore further initiatives, including the use of new technology for enhanced security and checkpoint efficiency.
Joint statement by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the 9th Malaysia-Singapore Leaders' Retreat in Putrajaya on April 9, 2019:
1.Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong met in Putrajaya on 9 April 2019 for the 9th Malaysia-Singapore Leaders’ Retreat. This being their first Retreat together, both Leaders iterated their renewed commitment to this continuing annual engagement as a platform for cooperation and discussing issues of mutual concern.
2.Reflecting on the strong historical links, and 54 years of diplomatic relations that bind both nations, both Leaders reiterated their commitment to preserving the vital relations and to improving bilateral ties on the basis of equality and mutual respect. The steady stream of visits and exchanges over the past year demonstrates both countries’ commitment to developing new areas of cooperation. The Leaders reaffirmed their commitment to resolve issues of concern in an amicable and constructive manner.
3.Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad congratulated Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Singapore’s successful Chairmanship of Asean in 2018. The Leaders also welcomed the development of the Asean Smart Cities Network, as a platform to pursue smart city projects to improve the lives of Asean citizens. The Leaders reaffirmed the importance of Asean in maintaining regional stability and promoting closer economic integration. They reiterated their support for the Asean-centric regional architecture that is open, transparent, inclusive and rules-based. Both Leaders reaffirmed their commitment to the full and effective implementation of the Asean 2025: Forging Ahead Together and the Asean Leaders’ Vision for a Resilient and Innovative Asean.
4.Both Leaders underscored the strong bilateral economic ties between Malaysia and Singapore and emphasised the importance of deepening trade and investment cooperation in the current uncertain global environment.
6.The Leaders noted the strong ties between the business communities from Singapore and Malaysia. They noted the broad scope for companies from both countries to collaborate widely, especially in areas such as digital economy and Industry 4.0.
7.The Leaders welcomed the progress made by Malaysia and Singapore in implementing the recommendations of the Working Group on maritime issues surrounding the Johor Bahru Port Limits off Tanjung Piai and Singapore Port Limits off Tuas to resolve the situation on the ground, paving the way for maritime boundary delimitation of the area. The Leaders welcomed the establishment of the committee to commence negotiations on maritime boundary delimitation in the area within one (1) month, following the implementation of the recommendations of the Working Group and noted that the said committee will be chaired by the Secretary General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Malaysia and the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Singapore.
8.The Leaders looked forward to the convening of the 8th Meeting of the Malaysia-Singapore Joint Technical Committee on the Implementation of the International Court of Justice Judgment on Pedra Branca, Middle Rocks and South Ledge to resolve outstanding bilateral maritime boundary delimitation issues in the area.
9.Both Leaders looked forward to the determination of the actual location of the points of the international boundary pursuant to the ‘Agreement between the Government of Malaysia and the Government of the Republic of Singapore to Delimit Precisely the Territorial Waters Boundary in Accordance with the Straits Settlements and Johore Territorial Waters Agreement 1927’ signed on 7 August 1995.
10.The Leaders also welcomed the agreement between the two countries for Singapore to withdraw the Instrument Landing System procedures for Seletar Airport and for Malaysia to suspend the permanent Restricted Area over Pasir Gudang airspace indefinitely. This would allow flights approaching and departing Seletar Airport to be based on visual approach in accordance with the Singapore Aeronautical Information Publication.
11.The Leaders noted that a High Level Committee has been set up to review the Operational Letter of Agreement between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore Area Control Centres concerning Singapore Arrivals, Departures and Overflights signed in 1974.
12.The Leaders reaffirmed the significant benefits of strengthening Malaysia-Singapore transport connectivity. In this respect, both Leaders acknowledged the importance of alleviating congestion in a comprehensive manner at the Causeway and Second Link. They agreed to explore further initiatives, including the use of new technology, for enhanced security and checkpoint efficiency.
13.Both Leaders welcomed the progress made on discussions regarding the Johor Baru-Singapore Rapid Transit System (RTS) Link Project. Both Leaders noted that Malaysia had proposed, and Singapore had agreed to consider, suspending the RTS Link Project for six (6) months from 1 April 2019, in a manner similar to that for the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High Speed Rail Project. Both Leaders instructed their officials to further deliberate on the matter and to finalise the terms of the suspension.
14.Malaysia expressed appreciation to Singapore for agreeing to suspend the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High Speed Rail Project for a period up to 31 May 2020 through the exchange of legal documents between both sides on 5 September 2018. The Leaders noted that Malaysia is exploring the possible way forward with the aim of cost reduction.
15.The Leaders noted both sides’ interest to identify appropriate and timely measures, including schemes, to increase the yield of the Johor River, and to safeguard its environmental conditions and water quality, to the extent required by the 1962 Johor River Water Agreement (1962 Agreement).
16.The Leaders also noted the differing positions of both sides on the right to review the price of water under the 1962 Agreement. Both Leaders agreed for the Attorneys-General of both sides to discuss these differing positions.
17.Both sides will seek amicable solutions, including the possibility of dispute resolution through arbitration on a mutually agreed basis.
18.The Leaders expressed their satisfaction on the ongoing cooperation under the purview of the Joint Ministerial Committee for Iskandar Malaysia (JMCIM). Both Leaders looked forward to the convening of the 14th Meeting of the JMCIM in Singapore later this year to take stock of the progress made in the respective immigration, tourism, transportation links, environment, iconic project and industrial cooperation work groups. Singapore noted the recent announcement by Malaysia on the expansion of Iskandar Malaysia. Both Leaders acknowledged prospects for further cooperation on the development of Iskandar Malaysia.
19.The Leaders reiterated their commitment to promote and explore further links to improve connectivity between Malaysia and Singapore. They noted ongoing discussions on Malaysia’s proposal for a new ferry route between Singapore and the Pasir Gudang Ferry Terminal. They also noted Malaysia’s request for an extension of the land lease of Changi Ferry Terminal under the Agreement for the Construction and Operation of a Ferry Terminal and the Operation of a Ferry Service between Peninsular Malaysia and Singapore.
20.The Leaders commended the ongoing cooperation on environmental issues with transboundary implications, through platforms such as the Malaysia-Singapore Joint Committee on the Environment (MSJCE) and the outcome of the last MSJCE meeting held in September 2018 in Putrajaya, Malaysia. Both countries reiterated their commitment to enhance the existing bilateral cooperation on the environment, including issues with transboundary implications, particularly in the area of monitoring marine and air quality as well as transboundary waste movements. Both Leaders reiterated the importance of enhancing capabilities to address areas of mutual concern, and emphasised the importance of information sharing and implementing mitigating measures.
21.The Leaders reiterated that the historical and cultural links between both countries are the foundation for stronger relations and have been further strengthened with cultural exchanges. The Leaders looked forward to the launch of the inaugural Triennial Malaysia-Singapore Cultural Showcase in the second-half of 2019 in Kuala Lumpur with the theme of “Youth”.
22.The Leaders welcomed potential cooperation in the areas of youth and sports especially the feasibility of eSports development and empowerment of youth through volunteerism, leadership and exchange programmes.
23.Both Leaders noted ongoing exchanges between Singapore’s Ministry of Communications and Information and Malaysia’s Ministry of Communications and Multimedia at the annual Malaysia-
(Source : The Star, 9 Apr 2019)