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31 July 1998

Press Statement:Rail passengers will face difficults and inconvenice if Malaysian Immagration insists on executing its duties at Tanjong Pagar Railway Station after 31 July 98

Singapore has informed the Malaysian Government that rail passengers will face difficulties and inconvenience if Malaysian Immigration insists on executing their duties at Tanjong Pagar railway station after 31 July 1998.

Singapore has on many occasions since 1989 informed Malaysia of its intention to move its Customs, Immigration and Quarantine (CIQ) operations from Tanjong Pagar railway station to the Woodlands Train Checkpoint (WTCP). This move will be effected on 1 August 1998. Singapore has also on many occasions informed Malaysia that, with effect from that date, Malaysia's CIQ operations cannot remain at the Tanjong Pagar railway station.

If Malaysia's CIQ remains at the Tanjong Pagar railway station after Singapore's CIQ moves to the WTCP, the sequence of immigration clearance will be illogical and contrary to international practice. Singapore Immigration must clear departing passengers for exit from Singapore before the Malaysian immigration can clear them for entry into Malaysia. Moreover, Malaysian Immigration will cease to have any authority to perform their functions at Tanjong Pagar once Singapore Immigration is no longer present to lend them their authority.

Malaysian Immigration officers performing immigration functions at Tanjong Pagar will be acting without legal authority and contrary to the proper sequence of immigration clearance. All immigration endorsements made by them on Singapore passports at Tanjong Pagar will be unauthorised and improper. Accordingly, questions of serious irregularity in the passport will arise under Singapore law. As the sequence of immigration clearance in the passport will be contrary to international practice, foreign national passengers exiting from Singapore with such unauthorised and improper endorsements on their passports may face difficulties at Singapore Immigration checkpoints.

Travellers who enter Singapore by rail from Johor Bahru will not be affected as they are following the correct order of immigration clearance, that is, exit granted by Malaysian Immigration in Johor and entry granted by Singapore Immigration in Woodlands.

Singapore Immigration met Malaysian Immigration on 28 July 1998 to try and resolve the issue. However, the talks broke down because, notwithstanding understandings that had been reached between the Foreign Minister of Singapore, Professor S Jayakumar and the Malaysian Foreign Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Badawi, during the 31st ASEAN Ministerial Meeting in Manila on 25 July 1998, Malaysian officials insisted that Malaysian Immigration should be located inside the building at WTCP. If this was not possible, they said that Malaysian Immigration would remain at Tanjong Pagar railway station.

As an interim arrangement, pending resolution of Malaysia's claim of a legal right for its Immigration to remain in Singapore, Singapore had proposed space for Malaysian immigration to set up air-conditioned booths on the 10m wide platform at WTCP. These facilities would be even more presentable and functional than those currently on the Tanjong Pagar platform, which is only about 8m wide and accommodates both Malaysian and Singapore immigration clearance facilities.

At the 28 July 1998 meeting, Singapore reminded Malaysia that to locate its Immigration Control Post in Singapore is not in compliance with Malaysia's own law. Under Malaysian law, it is the Johor Bahru railway station that is gazetted as an Immigration Control Post for persons travelling by train from Singapore to Malaysia, and not Tanjong Pagar railway station. Singapore also pointed out that this was confirmed by the endorsement or chop on the passports of passengers boarding the train at Tanjong Pagar which showed:




Reg. 11. Imm. Regs 63


Permitted to enter and remain in West Malaysia and Sabah for one month from thedate shown above"

The interim arrangements that Singapore had offered for Malaysian Immigration at WTCP would have avoided inconvenience to rail passengers. Unfortunately, Malaysia rejected these interim arrangements and abruptly ended the 28 July 1998 talks.


30 JULY 1998

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