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Malaysia’s flagship economic programme records rise in investments

29 Apr 2015

KUALA LUMPUR (Apr 29): Malaysia said on Tuesday private investments in its flagship economic development programme rose at a steady 11 percent in 2014, with the country half way to becoming a high-income nation by 2020.

Investment commitments in the private sector rose to 146.1 billion ringgit ($41.11 billion) from 131.7 billion ringgit a year ago, Prime Minister Najib Razak said on Tuesday as he introduced the annual report of the Economic Transformation Programme (ETP).

Total investments in Malaysia grew to 228 billion ringgit last year, the report showed, up from 217 billion ringgit in 2013.

“We are now at the halfway point of Malaysia’s goal of achieving developed nation status by 2020, and I am glad to say that we remain on track,” Najib said in the report.

Public investment in 2014 fell to 81.9 billion ringgit, or 36 percent of total investment, from 40 percent in 2013, an annual report released by the government showed. That is largely in line with the ETP’s objective to reduce government spending and increase the private sector’s role as the main driver of economic growth.

The ambitious programme was begun in 2010 to address lacklustre private and foreign investment in Malaysia and lift the country to high-income status by 2020. It aims to generate $444 billion in investments and raise annual per-capita income to $15,000.

Gross national income per person in Malaysia climbed to $10,426 in 2014 from $10,106 in 2013, in line with the government’s goal of $15,000 by 2020 or earlier.

Malaysia’s economy grew at its fastest pace in four years, 6.0 percent, in 2014, defying sliding oil and commodities prices with gains in construction and manufacturing.

But analysts say the country, a net energy exporter, may start to feel the effects of weaker global oil prices on its income in the months ahead.

Oil-based revenues dropped to 30 percent of the government’s total revenue in 2014, from 40 percent in 2009, as Malaysia looked to cut its reliance on the commodity.

Out of the 66 billion ringgit of oil revenues, 29 billion came in the form of dividends paid by state-owned oil and gas firm Petronas, the report showed.

“We must continue diversifying our economy while powering on with fiscal reforms,” Najib added.

While Malaysia, the region’s third-largest economy, has curbed its fiscal deficit from a staggering 6.7 percent in 2009 to 3.5 percent in 2014, other problems persist.

The government faces pressures over a heavily indebted investment fund, 1MDB, and the risk that its weak fiscal position could trigger a sovereign downgrade.

Malaysia introduced a consumption tax of 6 percent in April, which is expected rake in 5.6 billion ringgit in 2015.

But 4.9 billion ringgit from the goods and services tax will be channeled to programmes such as BR1M, a cash-based initiative for people on lower incomes, leaving only 690 million ringgit of actual revenue.


RM38.4b high speed rail project approved

13 Apr 2015

Lawmakers last Friday approved the RM38.4 billion high speed rail (HSR) project which will connect Malaysia and Singapore and drive growth in the Iskandar Malaysia economic corridor.

The government now has the mandate and funding needed to set up MyHSR Corp Sdn Bhd, the company that will undertake the construction of the system. As an initial investment, Ministry of Finance Inc will invest in 10 million shares of MyHSR Corp for RM1 per share.

Construction is expected to begin in 2016, with services operational by 2020. As development of the Iskandar Malaysia economic corridor enters its next stage, the case for the proposed HSR has never been stronger.

At the recent launch of the second phase of the RM42 billion gross development value Gerbang Nusajaya, touted as the gateway township to the region due to its proximity to Singapore, its developers and the regional authority made presentations on the HSR and underscored how it would drive occupation and development in the region.

“The HSR will have a significant impact on population growth in Iskandar,” says DTZ Malaysia consultancy and research head Brian Koh. Within Gerbang Nusajaya itself, Koh predicts a 44% increase in the township’s population if the HSR is completed.

“The key success factor for Iskandar is connectivity. The HSR must happen to ensure Iskandar continues to grow, not just from an economic perspective, but also from the stakeholder’s perspective,” said Datuk Ismail Ibrahim, CEO of the Iskandar Regional Development Authority.

He said the HSR would be complemented with an efficient bus rapid transit (BRT) system, which he said would be faster to implement and make more fiscal sense in the region.

“But by 2025, if we reached a certain critical point (in demand), we might want to upgrade the BRT to MRT (mass rapid transit,” he said.

A property analyst told The Malaysian Reserve the HSR could entice younger workers to stay in Iskandar and travel home to other states or Singapore during the holidays or weekends.

“The HSR would fit in with the government’s plans to increase the population of Johor, which is the key factor in driving up the state’s economy,” she says.

“It could be said the success of Iskandar does hinge on the rail project.” The proposed project will feature trains that travel at speeds of up to 250 km/h and will transport passengers from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore in just 90 minutes, with stops in Putrajaya, Negri Sembilan, Malacca and Johor.

Said to be South-East Asia’s most ambitious infrastructure project, the HSR is expected to unlock the full potential of Iskandar, which is expected to see full completion in 2025. Last month, Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told Malaysia’s Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhiyuddin Yassin that Japanese rail firms were very interested in getting involved in the project.

Japan’s famed Shinkansen network features train speeds of up to 320km/h, transporting more than five billion passengers throughout its operational service, and Muhiyuddin has reportedly expressed the government’s interest in using Japanese technology for the project.


Checkpoint clearance could go high-tech







10 Apr 2015

By Hoe Pei Shan

ROBOTIC arms with biometric scanners for use by car drivers and passengers – security clearance could become a high-tech affair at Singapore’s land checkpoints.

The Ministry of Home Affairs is looking to develop a new automated clearance system for vehicles aimed at “optimising clearance time”, said tender documents put out this week.

The new system, which could take two to three years to roll out, is also aimed at “enhancing checkpoint clearance capacity” and “improving security processes and resource optimisation”.

Currently, an officer at an immigration booth checks the passports of the driver and passengers.

Under the new system, drivers would have to disembark and manually scan the passports of all passengers in the car at a kiosk similar to the self-check-in stations at airports.

While that is done, an officer would count the number of people in the car, a figure verified by the automated system based on the scanned passports or by an automated vehicle occupancy counting system.

Once the initial checks are done, vehicles would move into another zone for “automated immigration self-clearance”.

The system would then detect the number of passengers in the car and extend robotic arms with handheld biometric scanners to the vehicle’s side windows.

Passengers would be prompted to reach out for the scanners to scan their fingerprints.

Cameras attached to the scanners would also perform facial detection of passengers.

In the event of any alarming detection, “security response forces” would be activated.

Called the Automated Passenger In-Car Clearance System, it can also determine the vehicles’ registration numbers for screening and clearance records.

The system should have a clearance rate of 25 cars per hour, with a desired target rate of 30 cars per hour, said the tender documents.

It is not known what is the existing clearance rate at the two land checkpoints.

The tender closes in June.

It follows another tender last month calling for more automated counters at land checkpoints to allow motorcycle travellers to scan thumbprints and have passports verified by a machine.

This also comes after two separate checkpoint breaches last year, in which two Malaysians entered Singapore illegally via the Woodlands Checkpoint.

Last month, Deputy Prime Minister and Home Affairs Minister Teo Chee Hean laid out several measures to secure the Woodlands and Tuas checkpoints, including the installation of crash-resistant walls and fences that are difficult to climb.

Motorist Keith Toh, 30, a Malaysian engineer working in Singapore, welcomed biometric scanning as an added layer of security, but questioned the efficiency of the new clearance process.

“I’m a little sceptical of these new-fangled technologies. Will it mean longer waiting times and longer queues at the checkpoint?”


UEM Sunrise unveils phase two of Nusajaya development


9 Apr 2015

UEM Sunrise Berhad, the master developer of Nusajaya in Iskandar Malaysia, has unveiled phase two of its development plans for the flagship zone, this time focusing on Gerbang Nusajaya, a massive area covering 4,551 acres (1,840 hectares) to be developed over 25 years.

Gerbang Nusajaya will command a gross development value of RM42 billion (S$15.7 billion), UEM Sunrise said at a briefing in Nusajaya.

It features a number of projects deemed “catalytic” in driving jobs creation, such as Nusajaya Tech Park, the 60:40 project between Singapore’s Ascendas and UEM Sunrise; and FASTrack Autosports Pte Ltd, controlled by Singapore billionaire Peter Lim.

Nusajaya Tech Park is on track to complete its first batch of ready-built facilities by the end of the year, while FASTrack is expected to start construction once government approvals are obtained.

UEM Sunrise chief operating officer Raymond Cheah stressed how Gerbang Nusajaya – some five kilometres from Singapore’s Tuas checkpoint – is shaping up as a commercial and business engine of Nusajaya through partnerships with established developers and multinational companies.

Nusajaya Tech Park has sold 73 per cent of the 21 ready-built factories released in phase one at RM380 per square foot onwards – a fraction of Singapore’s industrial land prices, said Ascendas CEO for South-east Asia William Tay. Telekom Malaysia and Sanwa are among its clients.

There are a total of 43 freehold factories and 12 land plots for sale in phase one. The 519-acre (210-hectare) tech park will be launched in phases depending on market conditions. Phase two is likely to be launched in the first half of this year, Mr Tay said.

Barry Kan, director of FASTrack (Iskandar) Sdn Bhd, told reporters that once the government approvals are obtained, the motorsports hub could be completed within two years. The wait, he explained, stems from “a much longer and steeper curve” for the government as the last motorsport race track built in Malaysia was some 15 years ago in Sepang.

The 300-acre (121-hectare) motorsports city is a 70:30 joint venture between FASTrack Auto-sports – set up by Mr Lim and the Johor royals – and UEM Sunrise.

Mr Kan said that this project is expected to spur the growth of the car industry and raise the bar for skilled engineers, technicians and designers. It is also looking to attract the likes of Japanese and international manufacturers to set up a base there and use the track as a testing and evaluation facility so that they can develop special products that are suited to the environment here.

Another key feature of Gerbang Nusajaya is a mixed-use project between UEM Sunrise and Kuala Lumpur Kepong Berhad (KLK). This project seeks to leverage on the proposed High Speed Rail (HSR) Link which connects Kuala Lumpur and Singapore, with one of the stations in Nusajaya. Three international architects were asked to submit proposals to design the 500-acre (202-hectare) plot comprising 75 per cent residential, mainly landed properties in a resort setting.

In addition, UEM Sunrise will build freehold residential precinct known as Signature Residences. It is also building 7,735 units in Gerbang Nusantara, a housing scheme.

Brian Koh, executive director at DTZ Nawai Tie Leung Sdn Bhd, estimated that some 5,200 residential units are required annually from 2019 to 2030 in Nusajaya, given the expected job creation and economic growth.

Iskandar Regional Development Authority (IRDA) CEO Ismail Ibrahim, however, stressed that IRDA is not in a hurry to work on the remaining uncommitted land in the whole of Iskandar economic region to make sure that the types of developments that take place are “based on strong fundamentals”.

At Gerbang Nusajaya, for instance, the master developer UEM Sunrise has focused on economic sectors and jobs creation first, he said.

Upon full completion, Gerbang Nusajaya is expected to create 76,000 direct jobs, 137,000 indirect jobs, and house an estimated 220,000 residents. Some 64 per cent of Gerbang Nusajaya’s landbank is not yet committed for development.

(Source: Business Times Singapore)

Mega land deal in Iskandar

The land Greenland was looking to buy in Tanjung Langsat was leasehold and valued at some RM40 per sq ft as it was close to the Tanjung Langsat port, said the source. (This file pic taken by The Star's Abdul Rahman Embong shows a vessel anchored at Tanjung Langsat Port in Tanjung Langsat, Johor. The Tanjung Langsat area is being developed into a huge oil and gas hub.)

The land Greenland was looking to buy in Tanjung Langsat was leasehold and valued at some RM40 per sq ft as it was close to the Tanjung Langsat port, said the source. (This file pic taken by The Star’s Abdul Rahman Embong shows a vessel anchored at Tanjung Langsat Port in Tanjung Langsat, Johor. The Tanjung Langsat area is being developed into a huge oil and gas hub.)
 7 Apr 2015

PETALING JAYA: Fresh from purchasing land in Plentong, Johor, worth some RM2.37bil from Iskandar Waterfront City Bhd (IWCB), Shanghai-based developer Greenland Holdings Group Ltd has now set its sights on about 1,200 to 1,400 acres of industrial land near the Tanjung Langsat Industrial Complex (TLIC).

Sources said the Tanjung Langsat oil and gas (O&G) terminal belongs to Johor Corp (JCorp), which is jointly operating the O&G hub with its partners Trafigura, Technip and MISC Bhd.

The land Greenland was looking to buy in Tanjung Langsat was leasehold and valued at some RM40 per sq ft as it was close to the Tanjung Langsat port, said the source.

However, Greenland, like most developers from China, has been coming up with generous offers for land in Johor. It still holds the record of paying RM991 per sq ft for 37 acres in Danga Bay last year.

“While no reclamation is required, Greenland will need to fortify the land for industrial purposes. The company is looking to diversify merely from property development into industrial development. Furthermore, it needs to create demand for its residential and commercial development projects,” said the source.

The 5,000-acre TLIC is located about 40km from Johor Baru, and caters to light, medium and heavy industries.

It is believed that a large portion of the land that Greenland is eyeing belongs to JCorp, an entity under the state government.

The industrial complex is supported by the Tanjung Langsat Port, which has oil-storage facilities, and a liquid and a dry jetty.

According to the TLIC website, its two dry cargo berths with depths of 10.1m can handle heavy-lift and oversized cargoes.

Currently, the liquid jetty with depths of 15m can cater for vessels ranging from 5,000 to 12,000 deadweight tonnes.

The Tanjung Langsat complex is specifically to cater for the industries related to palm oil, petrochemical, chemical, O&G, steel fabrication and marine. An area measuring 183.8 acres has been allocated for the Palm Oil Industrial Cluster.

The complex has attracted one of the biggest stainless steel manufacturers in the world – the Acerinox Group from Spain. Currently, more than 50 local and multinational companies have located their projects in TLIC.

Greenland is one of the three developers from China with interest in Johor. The other two are R&F Properties Co Ltd and Country Garden Holdings Co Ltd, with all three having undertaken large-scale property development projects.

Guangzhou-based R&F Properties is currently developing Princess Cove@Tanjung Puteri that will deliver some 3,200 residential units to the market. The China-based company had acquired the land measuring 116 acres from the Johor Royalty in 2014 at RM890 per sq ft.

Hong Kong-listed Country Garden, meanwhile, launched 9,000 residential units last year. Country Garden is also developing a 5,000-acre man-made island called Forest City on the Tebrau Straits.

Last Friday, IWCB and Greenland announced that they would jointly develop a mixed-development project in Johor Baru with an estimated gross development value of RM18.4bil.

IWCB’s unit, Southern Crest Development Sdn Bhd, had signed a conditional agreement with Greenland Tebrau Sdn Bhd (GTSB) to sell the freehold land, spanning 127.92 acres and partially submerged, for RM2.37bil (RM426 per sq ft).

GTSB is a 20:80 joint venture between IWCB and Greenland, and it will undertake the mixed development.

Should the entire disposal be subjected to a set-off arrangement, the cash proceeds to be received by IWCB is about RM1.9bil.

On the land disposal, IWCB said the group would recognise an after-tax gain of about RM1.2bil or RM1.80 per share in IWCB.

The original cost of the three parcels of land for IWCB was RM154.84mil.

Apart from this, Greenland had previously invested RM600mil in a 13.6-acre project in Danga Bay, which it is jointly developed with Iskandar Waterfront Holdings Sdn Bhd.


KTL Global to relocate bulk of operations from Singapore to Johor

KTL 7 Apr 2015

KTL GLOBAL has unveiled key corporate changes following a review of its businesses. These include streamlining its internal and operating efficiencies that will involve a significant relocation of operations from Singapore to Johor, Malaysia.

By June, the group will have relocated the bulk of its heavy steel rope and rigging production from Singapore to Tanjung Langsat. The bulk of the managed services will also relocate to Malaysia. The group intends to increase its manpower in Malaysia from 18 to 50 by the end of 2015.

“The relocation of large portions of steel rope and rigging manufacturing, warehousing and servicing activities to Malaysia from Singapore will result in significant improvements in internal efficiencies,” the group said on Tuesday. “These are expected to translate into significant operational cost efficiencies in FY2016, which will rise further in FY2017.”

KTL Global manufactures premium steel wire ropes, synthetic ropes, and subsea rigging equipment including heavy lift slings. It also provides related technical services to the oil and gas market.

Stemming from its strategic review, the group is also scaling up the value chain by focusing on higher-value products and services and deepening penetration in existing markets and entering new ones.

It will focus on higher-value products such as heavier tonnage synthetic ropes and higher-margin services including certification and managed services.

To meet the higher demand in the Middle East, the group intends to increase staff strength in the region to 55 from 44 within a year, while building up its capabilities to position it as a hub to target the European market too.


Plenty of jobs down south

Education excellence: An artist’s impression of EduCityIskandar, has much to offer in education. — filepic
Education excellence: An artist’s impression of EduCity Iskandar, has much to offer in education. — filepic

 16 Mar 2015

A total of 651,536 jobs opened up for job seekers in Iskandar Malaysia last year.Iskandar Regional Development Authority (IRDA) chief executive Datuk Ismail Ibrahim identified the manufacturing, hospitality, food and beverage, as well as education sectors as areas where job opportunities were aplenty.

He said 2015 would be the final year for Iskandar Malaysia’s Comprehensive Development Plan second phase and that the region was well on track in realising its long term goals.

“We remain optimistic that the region will continue to attract a stable inflow of investments with upcoming projects that will continue to benefit the local community like the creation of more job opportunities,” he said.

Ismail also said that 845 students had graduated under the specialised Iskandar Malaysia Creative Industry Talent Development Programme (IMCITDP) and 70% of them had been successfully employed to support activities in the creative sector.

He added that the investments in the region would continue to benefit Malaysians as there was ample business opportunities for entrepreneurs, and small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

Meanwhile, he said that Iskandar Malaysia secured RM1.8bil in new investments in the fourth quarter of 2014.

This brings the total cumulative committed investments secured to RM158.13bil from 2006 until Dec 31, 2014.

He added that from the total cumulative committed investments, RM77.07bil or 49% represented investments that have realised on the ground.

From the total RM158.13 billion, 32% was from the manufacturing sector, 25% from residential properties, 15% from retail properties, eight percent from utilities and the rest was from healthcare, tourism and education.

“The investments has also promoted sectors including electrical and electronics, petrochemical and oleo-chemical, food and agro processing, logistics, tourism, healthcare, education, financial services and the creative industry,” Ismail said.


Singaporeans pack JB nursing homes

(Singaporeans Sim Ah Chew (left), 71, and Haji Haroy, 79, live in the 210-bed Spring ValleyHomecare. Spring  Valley’s Singaporean-Malaysian owners recently bought an 8,000 sq ft piece of land in Johor Baru and plan to build a three-storey, 84-bed nursing home by the end of the year. — ST PHOTO: JAMIE KOH)
16 Mar 2015, By Janice Tai And Toh Yong Chuan

In a quiet private estate within Taman Johor, a 30-minute drive from the Causeway, there is a large two-storey bungalow with high ceilings and a lush garden.

At first glance, it looks like a typical suburban residence. But it is really a nursing home, and Singaporean Andrew Tan is one of its residents.

The house is part of a cluster of 10 bungalows within the estate, making up the City Heart Care Nursing Home.

“There are computers for me to check my Facebook page, my own TV to watch the news and I can even go to the coffee shop outside for noodles,” said Mr Tan, 43, who is paralysed from the chest down after a car accident 20 years ago.

His family, who lives in Singapore, sent him there as his ageing parents no longer have the strength to care for him.

After visiting more than 10 nursing homes in Singapore and Malaysia, the former electrical technician, who is single, chose City Heart Care as “it does not feel or smell like a hospital”.

“I also have my own room, which means I have privacy when my diapers need changing,” he said.

He is one of a growing number of infirm Singaporeans who have been admitted to nursing homes in Johor Baru, where prices can be as low as half those in Singapore.

Mr Tan’s family pays $900 a month for a two-bedded private room. A similar room in Singapore would cost more than double.

The growing influx is convincing major nursing home players to expand in Johor Baru. Singapore company Econ Healthcare Group, which runs eight nursing homes here, opened a 57,000 sq ft, four-storey home in Taman Perling this month.

The 199-bed centre is a 30-minute drive from the Causeway. Spring Valley Homecare, believed to be Johor Baru’s largest nursing home operator, with 210 beds, recently bought an 8,000 sq ft piece of land in Johor Baru. Its Singaporean-Malaysian owners want to build a three-storey, 84-bed home by the end of the year.

City Heart Care is also looking to buy more bungalows. Said Econ group executive chairman Ong Chu Poh: “There is potential in Johor Baru because of lower land and labour costs, which mean lower fees.” Three residents from Econ’s nursing homes in Singapore have already moved over to its new Taman Perling home. At Spring Valley, more than 40 per cent of its 150 residents are Singaporeans, compared with a fifth five years ago.

At City Heart Care, the number of Singaporeans has doubled in the last two years to make up 20 per cent of its residents. Affordability is the key pull. Nursing home fees in Singapore range from $1,200 to $3,500 a month. This is before government subsidies of between 10 per cent to 75 per cent. But those with per capita household incomes of above $2,600 do not qualify for these subsidies. In Johor Baru, nursing home fees start from $600 a month, making them attractive to middle-class Singaporeans.

Mr Frankie Ker, director of Spring Valley, said most of his Singaporean residents come from the “sandwiched middle class”. He said: “If you are poor, the Government will look after you. If you are rich, you can afford three maids to look after you 24 hours. If you’re middle-class, it’s tough.” Spring Valley offers basic, spacious open wards for $600 a month. Those who prefer more privacy can pay $900 for a two-bedded room in City Heart Care’s bungalows. “Singaporeans are very price-sensitive and will bargain for even $20 off,” said City Heart Care’s Malaysian owner, Mr Jeremy Yeo.

Econ’s homes target those with higher spending power, charging up to $2,500. Besides offering single rooms with attached toilets, it has barbecue pits and outdoor exercise gardens. Still, its fees are up to a third lower than its Singapore rates.

The space crunch in homes in Singapore is another reason more are heading across the Causeway. There are 10,000 beds now and the Health Ministry is pushing to increase this to 17,150 by 2020. Work on seven new nursing homes began this year.

Operators said demand for nursing home space here will only grow, given Singapore’s ageing population, creating a spill-over effect across the Causeway.

For some though, being in Johor can be a more lonely experience as the hassle of crossing the border deters some families from visiting, said operators.

Retired labourer Seow Teck Beng, who has been living at Spring Valley for three years, sees his children every three months. “I miss them,” the 89-year-old said. Operators said that they try to encourage family visits.

Econ’s Mr Ong said: “Singaporeans can combine the visit with weekend shopping. Johor Baru is not that far away – it’s like an MRT trip from Jurong to the airport.”

For Mr Tan, who said he is now good friends with the Indonesian staff at City Heart Care, Johor Baru has become a long-term choice. He gets visits from his family several times a year, but he said: “This is my home now.”


“Sell Up, Pack Up and Take Off”… To Malaysia






Two book authors have advised retirees from Australia to move to Malaysia since the country offers retirement visas, good health care and lower cost of living.

Colleen Ryan and Stephen Wyatt are authors of the book “Sell Up, Pack Up and Take Off” which discusses how retirees from Australia can live comfortably for less in Europe and Asia.

In an article in The Age, they compared the cost of living between Sydney and Penang based on user-generated cost-of-living statistics website

They noted that consumer prices in Penang are 54 percent lower than in Sydney, while groceries, restaurant prices and rents are 50 percent, 65 percent and 85 percent lower respectively in the Malaysian state.

“Malaysia and Thailand are the standout retirement destinations for healthcare, with excellent medical facilities,” wrote Wyatt and Ryan in the article titled “Stretched? Try calling Asia home”.

“Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines offer retirement visas. Malaysia and the Philippines represent the gold standard in visas. A Malaysia My Second Home visa will provide a 10-year visa,” stated the authors.

In Malaysia, Australian retirees can also receive the age pension, said Wyatt and Ryan.

Recently, Malaysia was listed as one of the top five retirement destinations by International Living in its 2014 Global Retirement Index.

In January, it was reported that the country was also ranked first among Asian retirement destinations as it offered low cost of living and high quality of life.

Malaysia’s Tourism Ministry launched the Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H) programme to provide services to expatriates looking to invest or retire in Malaysia, like visa permit applications, property sourcing and even domestic worker applications.


Singapore accepts proposal to increase train services to Malaysia

PONTIAN – Traffic congestion along the Causeway could be a thing of the past as both Malaysia and Singapore have agreed to increase the number of train trips between the two countries.

Malaysia’s Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai  said they were now looking at the possibility of increasing the trips from seven daily currently to 26.

Singapore accepts proposal to increase train services to Malaysia

The matter, he added, was raised during the Malaysia-Singapore joint ministerial meeting held in Putrajaya recently.

“Both governments are looking into easing the travelling time between Malaysia and Singapore, particularly along the Causeway.

“I am very happy that Singapore has accepted our proposal to increase the number of trips.

“In a way, this will help cut travelling time, ease congestion as well as lift the financial burden of those frequently commuting between both countries due to the toll rate,” he said at a Pontian MCA dinner here on Friday.

Johor Tourism, Trade and Consumers Affairs committee chairman Datuk Tee Siew Kiong described the announcement as good news for the public.

“The state government believes that the number of those travelling by trains will increase.

“Currently, about 320 people travel from the Woodlands checkpoint to JB Sentral using the train service provided by KTM Berhad daily,” he said.