Malaysia-Singapore ties an example to Southeast Asian nations, says Singapore PM

Singapore Prime Minister Lawrence Wong says his country’s close ties with Malaysia should be an example for Southeast Asian nations to emulate.

“What Malaysia and Singapore, and Johor and Singapore are doing is what Asean should follow – to strengthen integration as one community,” said Wong, referring to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean).

“About 20 years ago, we talked about it being an Asian century, with China and India, taking off. We were worried that Asean would be left behind.

“Now, 20 years later, China has certainly accelerated, and India is on the move with rapid momentum. Asean has made progress but there is still a lot of scope to come together, and work together.

“I hope the Malaysia-Singapore ties can be the anchor for a stronger and more integrated Asean community,” he added.

Wong said this during a joint press conference with Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim this afternoon at Malaysia’s administrative capital, Putrajaya.

Wong, who assumed office on May 15, is on his first official, two-day visit to Malaysia. Over lunch, the two prime ministers discussed matters affecting both nations, including Malaysia’s supply of water to Singapore, and maritime and airspace issues.

They also discussed working together to focus on energy, digital trade, and joint investment.

The visit comes as the two countries are about to establish the Johor-Singapore Special Economic Zone, which includes the Rapid Transit System Link project between Johor Bahru and Singapore that Wong described as a “game-changer”.

Anwar said that when Malaysia assumes the Asean chairmanship next year, it will continue discussions with other nations to reach a consensus on several key issues, moving forward.

“We must cement Asean as a cohesive force moving forward,” said Anwar.

Asked about Malaysia and Singapore’s bilateral ties, Wong said he focuses more on human relationships and not so much on the outstanding projects.

He said he wanted to continue the positive relationship that his predecessor had established with Anwar, in advancing bilateral ties.

“I took the opportunity today to strengthen Singapore’s ties with Malaysia,” said Wong.

“Once you have trust, we can get many things done. On our outstanding issues, we believe in a win-win solution that benefits both nations.”

Anwar said Malaysia’s relationship with Singapore was like that of brothers, and that there were bound to be “arguments”.

“But I want to show the (Southeast Asian) region, and the world, how good neighbours (should) behave and interact,” said Anwar.

“If you ask me about timelines to solve our outstanding issues, I wanted them resolved yesterday.

“We may take some time, but it would be marvellous if we could resolve it because the issue is, to my mind, clear. There’s no way we can get out of it.,” he added.

Main image: Sadiq Asyraf/ Prime Minister’s Office, Malaysia

Tagged with: