Singapore Government Press Release

Media Division, Ministry of Information and The Arts

36th Storey, PSA Building, 460 Alexandra Road, Singapore 119963.

Tel: 3757794/5




The relocation of Malaysia's rail CIQ operations from Tanjong Pagar to its own territory is a completely different and separate issue from the POA and status of Malayan Railway land in Singapore or the railway station at Tanjong Pagar. It is the sovereign right of any country to check entry into its territory at its borders as is done for ships, cars and aeroplanes between Singapore and other countries, including Malaysia. Even for railway travel between Malaysia and Thailand, both countries have checks on their own territory. The joint CIQ at Tanjong Pagar was a carry-over from colonial days when the British government governed both Singapore and Malaya. The relocation of Singapore's CIQ therefore has nothing to do with the Points of Agreement (POA). It is not dependent on the POA. Nor does it in any way affect the legal status of the POA in relation to the Malayan Railway land in Singapore or the Tanjong Pagar railway station under the POA. These matters are subject to the terms of the POA as stated by Foreign Minister S Jayakumar in Parliament on 29 June 1998.


With regard to the POA, Malaysian Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad has been quoted in the press as saying that the POA with Singapore over the development of KTM land in Singapore has not been ratified by his Cabinet or Government. According to Dr Mahathir, "points of agreement are points of agreement. But treaties are a different matter." (Straits Times, 8 July 98)


The POA is a Government-to-Government agreement between Singapore and Malaysia which took effect and became operative on 27 November 1990, the day it was signed by Mr Lee Kuan Yew on behalf of the Singapore Government and Tun Daim Zainuddin on behalf of the Malaysian Government. Nothing in the POA requires it to be ratified by the Cabinet, Government or Parliament of either country.


The Singapore government had reiterated to Malaysia the binding effect of the POA last year when the Malaysian Foreign Minister wrote to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Singapore on 11 June 1997 to state claiming that the POA would "only come into effect if and when KTM should decide to vacate Tanjong Pagar station". The Singapore Government on 2 July 1997 reiterated to Malaysia the binding effect of the POA. On 2 July 1997, The Foreign Minister of Singapore, in his reply 's reply also pointed out that the Malaysian Government had taken steps to implement the POA thereby acknowledging the obligations of the two governments under the POA.


Since there was disagreement over the correct interpretation of the POA, the Singapore Ggovernment had proposed that the matter be referred for arbitration. Alternatively, if arbitration was not considered suitable, then the matter could be submitted to the International Court of Justice (ICJ). Malaysia has not responded to Singapore's proposal.


The POA is a Government-to-Government agreement subject to interpretation according to international law. If there are any disputes or disagreements, including the need for ratification, Singapore repeats its offer to resolve this by referring this matter to the ICJ (World Court) in the same way that both Governments had agreed to settle the dispute over Pedra Branca.


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8 July 1998