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Published: Monday August 25, 2014 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Updated: Monday August 25, 2014 MYT 7:10:35 AM

Durian diplomacy to kick off at agrobazaar in Singapore

PETALING JAYA: Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong will be getting his craving for the king of fruits fulfilled this Wednesday, this time, courtesy of Malaysia.

Lee will be served musang king durian by his Malaysian counterpart Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak at the opening of Agrobazaar Malaysia at Singapore’s Sultan Gate.

A known durian lover, Lee would be served the fruit whenever he is in Malaysia for working visits.

During his last visit in April for the leaders’ annual consultation, he raved about the musang king at a joint press conference with Najib.

The agrobazaar was an idea Najib mooted when tabling the 2014 Budget, and Singapore will host the first Malaysian agrobazaar overseas. The initiative is driven by the Agriculture and Agro-based Ministry’s marketing agency, Fama.

Singapore is Malaysia’s biggest export market for fruits and fruit products, with annual exports worth RM300mil, contributed mostly by watermelons and the durian.

Fama director-general Datuk Ahmad Ishak said apart from selling local fruits, the 464 sq m shoplot has a restaurant that sells pisang goreng, cempedak goreng and serves Kopie Satu, a gourmet coffee developed by Fama.

It started operations in July and boasts of a “durian room” displaying chilled durians.

Ahmad said he expected sales from the agrobazaar to reach RM5mil annually.

“We did not have a permanent place to sell our fruits before this, apart from events we took part in. But now, the agrobazaar will also be the platform to promote other fruits in the republic.”

Malaysian officials said Najib’s visit would enable the two leaders to touch base and update each other on issues affecting both countries.

“Bilateral ties are good, but certain recent issues have created a lot of reactions on both sides of the Causeway.

“But it did not stop the leaders from interacting. Singapore is still one of our biggest trading partners and investors,” said an official.

Recent issues that came up between the two countries included various vehicle entry fees on both sides.

Singapore raised the Vehicle Entry Permit on foreign-registered vehicles from August, while Malaysia imposed toll charges at the Sultan Iskandar Customs, Immigration and Quarantine (CIQ) complex in Johor Baru the same month.

Singapore has said it plans to match the new toll at the CIQ in the coming weeks, while Malaysia announced that it will impose an entry fee akin to Singapore’s VEP.

Another issue expected to be brought up is Singapore’s concern over land reclamation work near the Second Link for the upcoming Forest City.

Tags / Keywords: Family & Community, najib tun razak, pm, singapore

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