January 25, 2004

Abdullah On Social Visit To Singapore

By Salbiah Said

SINGAPORE, Jan 25 (Bernama) -- Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi arrived here early Sunday for a social visit at the invitation of his Singapore counterpart, Goh Chok Tong.
Abdullah is accompanied by his newly-appointed deputy, Datuk Seri Najib Razak, and several Cabinet ministers.
On Saturday night, Goh and several senior ministers from Singapore attended the Kongsi Raya Chinese New Year celebration at Danga Bay in Johor Baharu at the Malaysian prime minister's invitation.
Analysts said the gathering last night would have symbolic importance as many of the disputes between Singapore and Malaysia involve the southern state of Johor, which wants to become a regional transport hub that would rival Singapore.
Equally significant is Abdullah's one-day visit to Singapore today, which takes him to the city's fantasy island, Sentosa, which means "peace" and "tranquility" in Malay.
During Abdullah's working visit to the republic last week, both prime ministers agreed to try to resolve outstanding bilateral issues through talks rather than third party arbitration.
Both leaders also agreed that issues that have already reached third party arbitration like the territorial dispute over Pulau Batu Puteh and reclamation works around Pulau Tekong would however be left to that recourse.
Other thorny outstanding issues between the two countries are the price of raw water supplied from Johor to the republic, proposed construction of an elevated bridge to replace the existing Causeway over the Straits of Johor and the shifting of the Keretapi Tanah Melayu station from Tanjung Pagar to Woodlands, relocation of the Malaysian Customs and Immigration Complex in Tanjung Pagar, Central Provident Fund (CPF) withdrawals by workers from Peninsular Malaysia in Singapore and the use of Malaysian airspace by low-flying Singapore air force jets.
After breakfast at Sentosa, which lies a mere bridge-span off the city-state, both Goh and Abdullah later teed-off for a friendly game of golf at the Sentosa Golf Club while Najib visited the Asian Civilisation Museum.
After the game, Goh will later host Abdullah and his delegation to lunch at The Cliff, Sentosa Resort and Spa.

Parent site: "Focus on Malaysia"