Anwar Calls Najib A Weakling

Anwar flays ‘submissive’ Najib in Singapore deal
By Shazwan Mustafa Kamal

KUALA LUMPUR, May 25 — Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim slammed today Malaysia’s deal with Singapore in settling the longstanding dispute over KTM Berhad’s Tanjong Pagar railway station in the island state.

Anwar said that the terms of agreement between Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and his Singapore counterpart Lee Hsien Loong were questionable as it was “shrouded in secrecy” and Malaysians were not aware of the real arrangement.

“But some of the terms are questionable and we feel Malaysian interests should be protected. This is as usual, most of Najib’s agreements are shrouded in secrecy.

“It’s (the agreements) not open. You always hide behind Khazanah but we dont know what’s the real arrangement,” Anwar told The Malaysian Insider in an interview today.

The Pakatan Rakyat defacto leader said that the agreement which was announced yesterday raised concerns that Malaysia is seen to be too “submissive” in catering to Singapore’s demands.

“There is a tendency that in the policy of Najib, like in the case of Barack Obama, he seems to be too submissive, agreeing, and there is a lot of concern.

“Why is it we have now a Prime Minister that surrenders too easily?” asked Anwar.

Following his meeting with Obama in April, the Najib administration had sided with Washington in its nuclear dispute with Iran.

After receiving domestic criticisms, Najib was also forced to deny cutting gasoline supplies to Teheran.

Najib and Lee agreed yesterday to relocate the 78-year-old Tanjong Pagar railway station operated by Keretapi Tanah Melayu Berhad (KTMB) to Woodlands.

The relocation, to take place on July 1 next year, marks a major step in resolving a number of outstanding bilateral issues between the two countries, as first reported by The Malaysian Insider last September 29.

The two governments will also form a company to jointly develop parcels of land now owned by KTMB.

Malaysia will soon will co-locate its railway and Customs, Immigration and Quarantine (CIQ) complex to the Woodlands train checkpoint.

Both countries also announced that a company, known as MS Pte Ltd, will be established no later than Dec 31 this year to jointly develop the parcels of land.

Malaysia is to hold a 60 per cent stake in this company under Khazanah Nasional Berhad, while Singapore will have a 40 per cent share held by Temasek Holdings.

The three parcels of land in Tanjong Pagar, Kranji and Woodlands, along with another three pieces of land in Bukit Timah, will be vested by MS Pte Ltd for joint development, which in turn could be swapped on the basis of equivalent value for pieces of land in Marina South and/or Ophir-Rochor.

The land swap has been contentious since the Malaysia-Singapore Points of Agreement (POA) was signed in 1990 over the issue of the future of the railway land. The POA was signed between former Singapore Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew and former Malaysian Finance Minister Tun Daim Zanuddin.

Under the agreement, KTM was to vacate its historic station at Tanjong Pagar and move to Bukit Timah while all of KTM’s land between Bukit Timah and Tanjong Pagar would revert to Singapore.

The land at Tanjong Pagar would be handed over to a private limited company for joint development — of which its equity would be split 60 per cent to Malaysia and 40 per cent to Singapore — as it is in the latest agreement.

But the key contention was the interpretation of the agreement as Singapore insisted the agreement meant KTM had to move its terminal from Tanjong Pagar to Bukit Timah within five years of its construction, when the republic moved its railway immigration in August 1998.

But Putrajaya said it would only be effective once it decided to move the station.

The railway land was acquired under a 1918 colonial ordinance specifically for use by Malayan Railway (Keretapi Tanah Melayu or KTM) for a period of 999 years. That same ordinance limits the use of this land. The land, which the main railway station is situated on, is considered prime land.

But Anwar stopped short of slamming Najib’s move in its entirety, and cautiously pointed out that he believed that bilateral ties with Singapore were of utmost importance.

“I am for and support strong bilateral relations with Singapore... I must again stress I represent the view (that) the relations with Singapore is of paramount importance to us as a country and also economic terms,” said the former Deputy and Finance Minister.

He explained that during his time as Finance Minister in the 1990s he had gone to Singapore to talk to then PM Goh Chok Tong about the terms of agreement, as it had not been cleared by the Cabinet or Attoney-General.

“I am [currently] working on my statement but basically [the] point of agreement was between Mahathir and Kuan Yew. At the time [when][ I was Minister of Finance, Tun Mahathir asked me to check [the terms of agreement]. I checked it was never cleared by the Cabinet or A-G so there was a problem .

“We had to go and explain to Goh Chok Tong that we will work [on the agreement].

“Although it is encouraging that we have major progress with negotiations with Singapore, [at the same time] these are prime economic and national interests and I think he [Najib] has to come out clean and explain details of the agreement,” said Anwar.

In a press statement issued a few hours later, Anwar reiterated his points and claimed that the newly-inked agreement woukd not be able to “generate domestic economic activity.”

“How many developers, contractors or Malaysian suppliers would be involved in the development of the M-S Pte Ltd?” Anwar said.

The Permatang Pauh MP also demanded that Najib present a report of the Points of Agreement (POA) along with the new terms in the upcoming Parliamentary session in June.

“We also want an explanation whether Najib had used the 1990 POA outlined by Tun Daim Zainuddin who was Finance Minister at the time, when it (the agreement) was not agreed by the Cabinet.

The government should also explain the real situation on the issue of water and to reassess the prices of raw water supply to Singapore.

“We urge Datuk Seri Najib to present a report in the next Parliamentary session in June,” said Anwar.

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