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MALAYSIAN WELCOME NEWS OF LAND SWAP DEAL WITH SINGAPORE

KUALA LUMPUR : Malaysia's decision to give up its railway land in Singapore for joint redevelopment has received the thumbs up from Malaysians in general.
Many see it as a major step towards improving bilateral ties, and resolving outstanding legacy issues that have plagued ties between the two neighbours.
It made headlines in all of Malaysia's main newspapers - a landmark agreement between Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak and his Singapore counterpart, Lee Hsien Loong that ends a 20-year deadlock.
  • Malayan Railways (KTM) will move its Tanjong Pagar station near Singapore's financial district to Woodlands by July next year.
  • Some industry experts have hailed it as a breakthrough, and see relations improving between Singapore and Malaysia.
  • "Singapore is our number one source of tourists. For the development of southern parts of Johore, we will welcome it, especially from Singapore, which is just our next door neighbour. This is very positive from Bandar Iskandar, and generally it's a good signal for better things to come," said Dr Victor Wee, chairman of the Malaysia Tourism Board.
  • In Kuala Lumpur, public reaction has been generally positive, although some would rather wait for details to be firmed up. "In general, I would say it looks good for both countries. It's always tough negotiating with Singapore, that's my concern," said Jamaluddin Ismail, a Malaysian businessman.
  • "I don't know whether it's good for us or bad for us, it needs time to tell," said another Malaysian resident.
  • The railway land that has been freed up will be developed by a company that's 60 per cent owned by Malaysia's Khazanah Nasional Berhad, and 40 per cent owned by Singapore's Temasek Holdings.
  • One option is to swap the KTM land for other plots of equivalent value, after a valuation has been carried out. "It must be very transparent. It should be a situation where both sides gain, and at the same time, not one party is having major advantage over the other," said Khoo Kay Kim, an associate professor at University Malaya.
While all eyes are on the land swap deal, in particular the valuation of Malaysia Railway or KTMB's land in Singapore, analysts have reminded both sides to look at the big picture and decide in the interest of long term relations of both countries.
Source: CNA
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