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Outcome of spat over ex-railway land expected in a few months: MFA

Dispute arbitration hearings in London completed: report

[SINGAPORE] The arbitration process to settle a dispute between Singapore and Malaysia over development charges on certain parcels of former Malayan Railway land in Singapore has reached its final stage.

In response to queries from The Business Times, a spokesman from Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) revealed that the decision of the arbitration tribunal was expected "in a few months".

This paves the way to potentially settle an outstanding issue in the Points of Agreement (POA) on whether Malaysia needs to pay Singapore a development charge on three parcels of land in Tanjong Pagar, Kranji and Woodlands.

This charge is a tax that is payable to the Singapore government to change the use of a land parcel. Singapore believes this tax must be paid, while Malaysia has argued otherwise.

The matter was eventually referred to the Permanent Court of Arbitration at the Hague, after Singapore and Malaysia reached an arbitration agreement in 2012.

Singapore and Malaysia have agreed to accept the arbitration award as final and binding. They also agreed that the decision would not affect the implementation of the POA.

According to The Malaysian Insider, which quoted an Aug 22 report by The Edge Review, the closed- door arbitration hearings in London wrapped up earlier this month.

Sources told the weekly regional magazine that former Singapore foreign minister George Yeo testified for the Republic, while Malaysia was represented by former second finance minister Nor Mohamed Yackop.

"As the decision of the tribunal has yet to be released, it would not be appropriate to comment further on the case," said the Singapore MFA spokesman.