As part of a government effort to foster greater understanding between its diverse races, Malaysia's southernmost city, Johor Bahru, is hosting a Lunar New Year party to welcome in the Year of the Monkey today. About 300,000 people are expected to attend this year's celebrations in the city, which lies just north of Singapore. The gala is expected to draw thousands of Singaporean tourists eager for a taste of the food, drink and entertainment. But of special significance this year is the fact that Singapore's entire cabinet has been invited to the outdoor event. A majority have confirmed that they will be attending, including Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong. Their visit is expected to improve ties between Malaysia and Singapore. The two neighbours have had a testy relationship since Singapore left the Malaysian federation in 1965, leaving ties strained because of a number of unresolved issues - some dating back to the British colonial period. They are presently locked in a legal battle over land reclamation work being carried out by Singapore in waters bordering Malaysia. The matter is currently before the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea. Other sources of dispute include the price of water which Malaysia supplies to Singapore, a prospective bridge linking the two, the use of Malaysian airspace by Singapore military aircraft and ownership of an island, Pulau Batu Puteh. Since becoming Malaysia's prime minister last October, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has been determined to resolve the deadlock. During a recent visit to Singapore, he told Mr Goh that he wanted to see a resolution of some issues, particularly the most straightforward ones. Past attempts at finding a solution have focused on solving all the issues at once - resulting in an impasse. 'We have to pluck some low-hanging fruits before the musang [civet cat] comes and takes them away,' Mr Abdullah said. Mr Goh added: 'Which are the low hanging fruits, we do not know yet. We have to take a look at that.' Motorists accustomed to long queues at immigration checkpoints during festive weekends could be the first to benefit from this new attitude, as the respective governments attempt to demonstrate the merits of having a fruitful symbiotic relationship.