Singapore and Malaysia is separated by slightly more than one kilometre based on the length of the Johor-Singapore Causeway which was opened in 1923. Besides the Causeway, citizens from both Malaysia and Singapore have many other travel options to visit their neighbouring country. But what is so special about relationship between these two countries?
Singapore was part of Malaysia for more than two years from 1963 to 1965. After the British exit its 144-year ruling of Singapore, the Federation of Malaysia was formed together with Singapore, North Borneo and Sarawak. However, racial tensions became a genuine problem in Singapore. Over the two year period, the problem intensified, and racial riots and curfews were common.
Moreover, the government of the Federation of Malaysia was concerned that as long as Singapore remained a part of the Federation, there would be differences in views on racial harmony. There was the general feeling that Malays and the indigenous population in the Federation will be undermined. On 7 August 1965, Singapore officially broke off from Malaysia.
Despite leaving the Federation, it does not affect relationships between the two countries. In fact, Malaysia is Singapore’s biggest trading partner in 2012. To deepen ties between the two countries, a second causeway between Singapore and Malaysia officially opened on 2 January 1998. Measuring 1,920 metres, the second causeway links the western part of Singapore at Tuas to the western part of the state of Johor at Gelang Patah.
In 2007, economic collaboration between Singapore and Malaysia moved a step closer with the establishment of the Malaysia-Singapore Joint Ministerial Committee for Iskandar Malaysia. Iskandar Malaysia refers to the extensive development of the southern Malaysia State of Johor. The development covers an area of 2,217 square kilometres which comprise the city of Johor Bahru, towns like Pontian, Senai and Pasir Gudang. On 19 February 2013, leaders from Singapore and Malaysia stuck a landmark agreement to build a High Speed Rail link between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore to further spearhead the development of Iskandar Malaysia.
Let’s take a look at four key facts of the upcoming High Speed Rail:
1) The entire length of the High Speed Rail is expected to measure 350 kilometres and will cut travelling time between Singapore to Kuala Lumpur to just 90 minutes.
2) There will be a total of 8 stations along the High Speed Rail with 7 stations in Malaysia and 1 station in Singapore. The stations in Malaysia are Kuala Lumpur. Putrajaya, Seremban, Ayer Keroh, Muar, Batu Pahat and Iskandar Puteri. The station in Singapore will be at Jurong East.
3) There will be 3 immigration facilities located at Kuala Lumpur, Iskandar Puteri and Sngapore Jurong East. International passengers travelling on the High Speed Rail will clear immigration of both countries once at the point of departure. This should ensure speedy travel procedure for travellers.
4) This is the 1st High Speed Rail in ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nation) and hopefully there will be more such projects linking travellers to other ASEAN countries.