Linking KL, Iskandar, Malaysia – Singapore by High Speed Rail (HSR) and Rail Transit System (RTS)

This article was published in MAPEX JB 2014’s ShowGuide.


Full article as follows:

On 7th April 2014, a very significant joint announcement was done by both Prime Minsters of Malaysia and Singapore. The proposed High Speed Rail (HSR) as well as the Rapid Transit System (RTS) is on track. The HSR is expected to be ready by 2020. This is the one whereby it’s possible to have a breakfast in Kuala Lumpur, lunch in Iskandar and dinner in Singapore before a supper with ‘teh tarik’ and ‘mee goreng’ back in KL. This was announced right after the 5th Malaysia-Singapore Leaders’ Retreat in Kuala Lumpur.

This announcement meant that the linkages between both countries would be closer than ever in both business as well as leisure. Additionally, Singapore’s stations may be located in Tuas West or Jurong East while Malaysia’s side may be in Sungai Besi, KL. Of course, this cannot happen suddenly because this is not a domestic project. This is a joint project between two countries. There’s design, financing, security and even immigration requirements. Perhaps even the time when the trains depart may be have to be slightly different.

One highlight in the announcement was the fact that both leaders spoke about the possibility of having just ONE (1) checkpoint instead of two to ensure efficiency of travel for goods, services and people between Malaysia and Singapore.

Iskandar Malaysia was also mentioned. As at today, many still think of Iskandar as just a place where more condos are being launched but to both of them (PMs), Iskandar Malaysia must not only be covering services or residential properties. It must march towards manufacturing, creating more jobs, attracting new investments and thus having an organic, comprehensive, dynamic centre of economic vitality in Johor. In fact, it was envisioned that Iskandar Malaysia is the key to making both Malaysia and Singapore even more complementary to one another as well as closely integrated. This is the fifth Leaders’ Retreat for Malaysia and Singapore and the next one would be held in 2015 in Singapore. Personally I think this cooperation is vital because when we look at the big picture, both countries are still smaller in population size when compared to Thailand, Indonesia or The Philippines. Thus, the more integrated both countries are, the better the GDP growth may be, just like what is happening to Indonesia or Thailand today where the domestic economy itself is a big driver to the respective country’s economy and not just the FDI.

In terms of Singapore government’s own projection of population growth to between 6.5 million to 6.9 million by year 2030, it means Singapore will continue to grow from current 5.3 million by another 1.2 million – 1.6 million. Yearly basis, this is up to 100,000 new population per year. On a ratio of 1:3 based on just this growth, Singapore needs 30,000 units of new properties per year. HDB is expected to offer up to 24,000 flats in 2014. Do you see clearly now, why property prices in Singapore has to rise, even if currently, it has been on a downtrend since end of 2013.

I wish the story can unfold faster but there’s just way too many things to discuss further before all these can start. Rest assured, implementation wise, if it is supported by both the highest ranking officers from both countries, it will be prioritized once it’s finalised. For now, the current relationship between these two ‘brothers’ can be described as cordial and integration between Johor and Singapore is continuous. Will keep everyone updated as things happen.



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