Singapore committed to ‘engaging and cooperating’ with new Malaysian government: Vivian Balakrishnan

SINGAPORE: Singapore remains committed to engaging and cooperating with the new Malaysian government to seek “win-win” outcomes, said Minister for Foreign Affairs Vivian Balakrishnan on Monday (Sep 13).

Speaking in Parliament, Dr Balakrishnan noted that Singapore and Malaysia will always be closely intertwined and interdependent.

“We are committed to engaging and cooperating with the new Malaysian government to seek win-win outcomes for the long term. And this is especially important, so that both our countries can recover and emerge stronger from the current COVID pandemic situation,” said Dr Balakrishnan.

“And I’m confident that our bilateral cooperation will continue to expand for the mutual benefit of citizens on both sides.”

Dr Balakrishnan was responding to questions from Members of Parliament Vikram Nair (PAP-Sembawang) and Henry Kwek (PAP-Kebun Baru) who had asked if the political situation in Malaysia would have any implications for Singapore and how the Government will move forward with bilateral projects.

He noted that Singapore has enjoyed good relations with successive Malaysian governments as well as leaders, cooperating well with them across a very wide range of areas.

These includes contributing medical supplies and test kits and launching several travel arrangements amid the pandemic.

Singapore committed to 'engaging and cooperating' with new Malaysian government: Vivian Balakrishnan
Dr Vivian Balakrishnan speaking in Parliament on Monday (Sep 13).

“Besides the political leadership, our respective civil service maintains good relations and communications with each other, and officials on both sides are in regular contact. Singapore remains committed to maintaining a constructive and positive relationship with the current Malaysian Government. We will also follow through with our commitments on bilateral projects and our partnerships.”

He also noted that there has been “good progress” on the Rapid Transit System (RTS) Link project, which resumed in July last year. 

Discussions with the Malaysian government on the safe and gradual resumption of cross-border movement of people are also ongoing, noted Dr Balakrishnan.

“This will require mutually agreed, public health protocols to preserve public health and the safety of residents on both sides, whilst taking into account the medical resources available. For example, both sides are currently working towards recognising each other’s vaccine certificates. The discussions have been fruitful, constructive. We’ve made good progress. And this will certainly help us map our path forward for a safe reopening of our borders, when the situation permits it,” he said.

Last month, United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) politician Ismail Sabri Yaakob was sworn in as Malaysia’s prime minister.

Mr Ismail Sabri was most recently deputy prime minister and defence minister in the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government led by Mr Muhyiddin Yassin, who had resigned after losing majority support in the Lower House.

Dr Balakrishnan noted that the Singapore Government watches developments in Malaysia “very closely” and its “consistent position” is to work with the government of the day. 

“Malaysia will always be our closest neighbour, this is a geographical fact. Our long-term relationship will always be bound by the ties of kinship, culture, history, and of course, economic interdependence,” said Dr Balakrishnan.

“A stable and prosperous Malaysia is good for Singapore. And indeed, good for our region.”

By : Matthew Mohan – CNA

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