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04 August 1998

Comments by Ministry Spokeesman:Response to press queries on the many recent statements on the CIQ issues by Malaysian leaders , 4 Aug 98

In response to press queries on the many recent statements on the CIQ issue by Malaysian leaders, a MHA spokesman said, "unsubstantiated allegations from Malaysia, blaming everything on Singapore, are nothing new. We have lived with this for many years. Singapore has put all the facts on the table. We can only conclude that those who make such allegations do not know the facts or have chosen to disregard them."

MHA's spokesman refuted the main allegations as follows:

Allegation 1 : Singapore has moved the CIQ to Woodlands suddenly, unilaterally, and deliberately at a time when Malaysia was facing an economic crisis.

Spokesman : "The facts speak for themselves. We first informed Malaysia of our intention to move our CIQ to Woodlands in 1989, nine years ago. In 1992, Singapore briefed Malaysia on our detailed plans for our CIQ in Woodlands. We consulted Malaysia on the design of the Woodlands Train Checkpoint (WTCP) at every stage. We then started work with the Keretapi Tanah Malayu Berhad (KTMB) and other Malaysian officials on the technical arrangements of the move. Between October 1996 and March 1998, we have had nine technical meetings with Malaysia to prepare for the move. Among other things that had to be coordinated, the KTMB has had agreed to and did to realign its railway track to enable the trains to stop at WTCP. Even the platform at WTCP is built on land leased from KTMB. Malaysia carried out all these works in coordination with us. They had agreed in 1993 to co-locate their CIQ with Singapore at Woodlands. However, Malaysia changed its mind in 1997."

Allegation 2 : Singapore has been arrogant and insensitive in its handling of the CIQ issue.

Spokesman : "This is what Malaysia usually says when it has no logical arguments to offer. How can Singapore be 'arrogant and insensitive' when the WTCP is within Singapore territory and we have every right to locate our own CIQ facilities at our border which is where all countries usually locate their CIQ facilities in order to check smuggling especially of drugs? Why is it not 'arrogant and insensitive' for Malaysia to abruptly change its mind in 1997 and to insist on its CIQ remaining at Tanjong Pagar when it has no legal right to do so?"

Allegation 3 : The re-location of the CIQ is a ploy to take back the Malayan Railway land.

Spokesman : "This is completely unfounded. Our Foreign Minister has publicly said several times that the re-location of the CIQ is a completely different and separate issue from the status of the Malayan Railway land or the status of their railway station, which are subject to the Points of Agreement (POA)."

"Malaysia has a lease on the land to run a railway and only to run a railway. Singapore does not dispute its right to do so. But running a railway does not give Malaysia a right to perform State functions like CIQ on Singapore territory. No State can exercise such State functions in the territory of another sovereign country without that State's consent. This was made clear by our Foreign Minister in Parliament."

Allegation 4 : Singapore should take steps to resolve the dispute because Singapore had created the dispute in the first place.

Spokesman : "The dispute arose because Malaysia has changed its position many times. The last meeting on 28 July 1998 at which we tried to find a solution, broke down because Malaysian officials went back on understandings that had been reached between our Foreign Minister and Foreign Minister Badawi., They abruptly broke off the talks and walked out, insisting that Malaysian Immigration should remain at Tanjong Pagar. We had offered Malaysia interim arrangements for its CIQ, but they were rejected."

Allegation 5 : The Singapore media has an agenda to incite Singaporeans to hate Malaysia.

Spokesman : "This is absurd. One has only to compare the media coverage of both sides. The Singapore media has reproduced the full text of the Malaysian Ministry of Foreign Affairs press statement of 31 July 1998. The Malaysian media on the other hand has generally not reported on Singapore's statements on this issue, including our Foreign Minister's last Parliamentary statement on 31 July 1998."

Asked whether the problem is resolved by Malaysia not endorsing the passports of outgoing rail passengers, the MHA spokesman said: "We note that Malaysia has refrained from endorsing passports. after we told them that this would have serious consequences Within three months, the Malaysian side has promised to provide us with their legal arguments to show that their CIQ has the legal right to stay at Tanjong Pagar."


4 AUGUST 1998
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