Malaysia, S’pore to meet again on airspace issues

By SHAHEERA AZNAM SHAH / Pic By MUHD AMIN NAHARUL

MALAYSIAN officials are expected to meet with their Singaporean counterparts and pursue further discussions on technical aspects involving airspace issues that are brewing between the two countries.

In his facebook posting yesterday, Transport Minister Anthony Loke said the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) of both countries have agreed to move forward in solving the current problem at the Seletar Airport, which has been the centre of attention for the past months.

“I had a fruitful and constructive meeting with Singapore’s minister for transport. We agreed on the way forward to solve the Seletar Airport issue and the CAA of both countries will continue the discussion on the technical aspects,” he said yesterday.

Echoing Loke’s sentiment is Singapore Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan, who also shared on a similar social media posting that both counterparts are scheduled to meet sometime after Feb 5, 2019.

“(Yesterday) was the third time we meet, after the previous meetings in Putrajaya and Bangkok last year.

“Malaysia’s transport minister and I will meet again after the Chinese New Year (CNY) to continue the airspace discussion,” Khaw said.

He added that the Singaporean government had also suggested to extend the mutual suspension of Malaysia’s restricted area in Pasir Gudang, Johor, and Singapore’s instrument landing system procedures at the Seletar Airport to provide officials with an adequate time frame to reach a win-win outcome.

Apart from improving relations with Singapore, Loke also said mutual cooperation between Malaysia and China in the transport sector — including maritime, aviation and rail transportation — will be further explored for the common benefits of both countries.

He said in a statement yesterday that the bilateral relations between Malaysia and China, founded some 45 years ago, has the potential to be developed into a tight cooperation between the governments of both countries.

“The strong bilateral relationship between Malaysia and China was established since 1974 and I wish to see the enormous potential for cooperation between both countries at the government- to-government level.

“This would create jobs for the locals and provide long-term socio-economic benefits for the people,” he said, reiterating his message to China Transport Minister Li Xiaopeng during a working visit to Beijing, China, last week.

Loke said his counterpart had acknowledged the challenges faced by the new Pakatan Harapan government since May 2018, while appreciating Malaysia’s commitment to strengthen the collaborations between both countries in the transport sector.

“He has shared with me the enormous task of overseeing the 40-day CNY travel season every year to ensure billions of Chinese citizens travel safely and efficiently across many countries,” Loke said.

Loke had also raised specific issues in the three main branches of the transport sector to China regarding Malaysia’s port expansion, rail network development and air travel frequency between the two countries.

“Following my visit to the Yangshan Deep Water Port and meeting the world’s industry players in Shanghai last week, I expressed interest for them to participate and invest in the upcoming port expansion projects in Malaysia — particularly in our largest and most important port, Port Klang.

“I emphasised on the importance of forming equitable and mutually beneficial partnerships between Chinese cooperations and strong Malaysian partners for the projects to be successful,” he said.

For land transportation, Loke said Malaysia still requires much knowledge in expanding its infrastructure and integrating the use of digital technology for better efficiency and convenience, which could be acquired from China.

“I welcome Chinese investment to set up manufacturing facilities for rail components and train sets in Malaysia, as well as taking advantage of the cost competitiveness, stable regulatory environment and strong government support to make Malaysia a hub for the Asean market.

“Participation from the local supply chain is key to the sustainable longterm growth of rail investments in Malaysia,” he said.

He added that the Malaysian government welcomes the increased flight frequency between Malaysia and China to support bilateral transport cooperation, as well as boosting tourism activities and economic collaboration.

“I encourage airlines of both countries to increase flights between Malaysia and China — not only between the capitals, but also connecting our second- and third-tier cities.

“I also met with Chinese CAA chief Feng Zhenglin to discuss the policy and operational matters that have been brought to my attention by Malaysian designated airlines operating in China,” he said.