16th Meeting of the Malaysia-Singapore Joint Ministerial Committee for Iskandar Malaysia

Jul 14, 2023


Singapore and Malaysia Agree to Study Establishing a Johor-Singapore Special Economic Zone

16th Meeting of the Malaysia-Singapore Joint Ministerial Committee for Iskandar Malaysia Looks to Further the Frontier for Bilateral Cooperation between Singapore and Malaysia

14 July 2023

1    The Malaysia-Singapore Joint Ministerial Committee for Iskandar Malaysia (JMCIM) held its 16th meeting on 14 July 2023 in Singapore. The meeting was co-chaired by Singapore’s Minister for National Development Mr. Desmond Lee and Malaysia’s Minister of Economy YB Tuan Mohd Rafizi Ramli. Also present were Singapore’s Acting Minister for Transport, Mr. Chee Hong Tat and Johor’s Menteri Besar Datuk Onn Hafiz Ghazi. Senior officials from both countries were also present.

2     The JMCIM agreed to study the establishment of a Johor-Singapore Special Economic Zone (JS-SEZ) to drive economic growth, and strengthen economic connectivity and collaboration for the mutual benefit of our people. This will build on the strong growth of Johor and significant investments in the region by Singapore. Johor recorded RM70.6 billion worth of foreign investments in 2022 alone, across various sectors including electrical and electronics, medical equipment, food manufacturing and data centres. Singapore was Johor’s second-largest foreign investor, and contributed to around 70 per cent of Johor’s total foreign direct investment in the manufacturing sector.

3     The JMCIM agreed to set up a special task force to study the JS-SEZ. The task force will work out the Terms of Reference and broad areas of collaboration for the JS-SEZ. The special task force will be led by the Ministry of Trade & Industry from Singapore and Ministry of Economy from Malaysia, with the support of relevant government agencies from Singapore and Malaysia. The special task force will provide a progress update at the 10th Singapore-Malaysia Leaders’ Retreat to be held in Singapore later this year.

4     The JMCIM noted that the JS-SEZ will build on the foundation set by the various work groups to (a) drive sustainable growth; (b) develop human capital; and (c) improve infrastructure and connectivity.

Driving growth in a sustainable manner

5     Since the re-opening of international borders following the COVID-19 pandemic, the Industrial Cooperation Work Group (ICWG) has been involved in attracting cumulative investments worth RM5.1 billion which are expected to create some 1,700 quality, well-paying jobs locally in Iskandar Malaysia.

6     The JMCIM has also reaffirmed its commitment to sustainable growth and noted that the Environment Work Group (EWG) is working to refresh its Terms of Reference to cover a wider range of cooperation issues. This is on top of the EWG’s existing capacity-building activities through joint workshops for government and industry players.

Enhancing human capital and strengthening people-to-people ties.

7     Under the ICWG, both sides will continue to discuss efforts to develop technical and vocational training programmes to meet industry’s demand for skilled talent in Iskandar Malaysia, potentially through link-ups between institutes of higher learning in Johor and Singapore.

8     The Innovation Work Group (INWG) has facilitated a series of private sector exchanges amongst start-ups, for example through Malaysia’s participation in Singapore’s Week of Innovation and Technology (SWITCH). The INWG has also identified potential areas for further collaboration, including in robotics, drones, autonomous vehicle testing, artificial intelligence, and blockchain.

9     The Tourism Work Group (TWG) will continue to explore new opportunities to promote cross-border travel and people-to-people exchanges. To leverage on and bolster Singapore’s and Johor’s shared heritage, the TWG is exploring potential collaboration on cultural trails and joint events.

Improving infrastructure and connectivity.

10     The Transportation Links Work Group (TLWG) and Immigration Work Group (IWG) have worked closely to strengthen infrastructure and cross-border connectivity between Singapore and Johor.

11     Transport and immigration agencies have worked with cross-border bus operators to increase bus frequencies during peak periods. This has reduced waiting times for bus commuters travelling across both the Causeway and the Second Link.
12     To improve sea connectivity, a new ferry service between Singapore and Tanjung Pengelih was launched in December 2022. This follows the commencement of the ferry service between Singapore and Desaru in July 2022. Both ferry services have been well-received by commuters from Singapore and Malaysia. Building on the good cooperation in this area, commercial operators in Singapore and Malaysia will be starting discussions to assess the commercial viability of a potential new ferry service between Puteri Harbour and Tuas.

13     To improve existing rail connectivity, the TLWG has agreed in principle to increase the frequency of the KTM Tebrau Shuttle from 31 to 36 daily train trips. The new schedule will commence once agencies on both sides work out further details.

14     The JMCIM also noted the good progress of works on the Johor Bahru- Singapore Rapid Transit System (RTS) Link on both sides.

15      In line with both countries’ commitment to better manage congestion at the land checkpoints, the JMCIM welcomed Malaysia’s enhancements to the Malaysian Automated Clearance System (MACS 2.0) since January 2023 and Malaysia’s plans to install additional lanes under the Malaysian Citizen Motorcyclists programme (MBIKE 2.0). The JMCIM also welcomed Singapore’s three-pronged approach, comprising real-time dynamic traffic management, further automation of clearance processes, and longer-term plans to redevelop and expand Woodlands Checkpoint to increase throughput and smoothen cross-border movement of people and goods.

16     The JMCIM looks forward to meeting again soon in Malaysia to sustain the positive momentum of bilateral collaboration.

YB Tuan Mohd Rafizi Ramli
Minister of Economy, Malaysia
Mr. Desmond Lee
Minister for National Development,
YAB Datuk Onn Hafiz Ghazi
Menteri Besar of Johor, Malaysia
Mr. Chee Hong Tat
Acting Minister for Transport,