Concern by Singapore is now at the highest level; mega reclamation

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I wrote about this just few days ago. A reclamation project called Forest City which will cover around 3% the size of Singapore and it’s right next to Singapore. Without any doubt, if you are Singapore, you would also be concerned. This concern has been raised during regional meetings between both countries and has now risen to the highest level; PM to PM. Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has written Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak about its concern. The concern started after a report in The Star about the project by Country Garden of China and Kumpulan Prasarana Rakyat Johor.

The request I think would be for a formal report about the environment impact assessment (EIA) as well as more details about the project. This is a very sensitive issue because JB and Singapore is too close for comfort when these projects happen. According to report, the Johor Menteri Besar has also said that they have issued a notice to the developer to have an action plan which will effectively clear any sediment caused by the reclamation work.

If this fails, Singapore may have to go to the International Tribunal of the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) which both are signatory to. This would not be the first time because in 2003, Malaysia went to ITLOS and in that case, ITLOS decided that Malaysia has no right to stop Singapore from carrying out reclamation as long as it does not pose any effect to the environment, especially on the Malaysian side. Thus, if we go by the same reasoning, I think ITLOS would decide in similar manner and this meant that the best that Malaysia could do is to have pro-active measures about handling of any environmental concerns that Singapore may have.

In the end, I think it really depends on how both countries want to continue the cordial relationship for the past few years instead of damaging it with this row. I think my main concern on this is the potential increase in supply which Country Garden has mitigated somewhat by saying the the development is over a period of 30 years. We will have to see if and when the EIA report would be done or when would Singapore PM be more direct about this issue if he really felt strongly about it.

written on 21 June 2014

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