JOHOR BAHRU: The relationship between Malaysia and Singapore is likely to become more friendly, former deputy prime minister and Johor chief minister Muhyiddin Yassin said in a press conference on Friday (May 11).
“We have to have good relations with all our neighbours, and of course Singapore has always been special – not only to Johor, but the whole of Malaysia,” said Muhyiddin.
The fact that “the people have spoken” and that Pakatan Harapan (PH) has been elected means that “we should now look beyond our borders”, he said.
“The Republic is an important trading partner. We have a long-established trade relationship and most of our goods are sold to Singapore," said Muhyiddin.
“We want Johor to not only complement, but Johor to take advantage of that situation and find ways and means … to increase our level of development that will benefit our people.”
“I would believe that from now on, relations between Johor - or Malaysia in particular – with Singapore will move forward into (a) better, friendly relations sort of situation,” he added.
Meanwhile, Muhyiddin said he would let the new state government decide if a review of the Forest City project would be needed.
“It is up to the new state government to look into (not only) Forest City but also other development projects in Johor.
“If it contributes tremendously to the growth of Johor, we should recognise it, but certain policy decisions need to be adhered to ... We will leave it to the state administration to decide,” he said.
The US$100 billion mixed development project near the Singapore border had led to discontent about increasing Chinese influence.
JOHOR'S NEW CHIEF MINISTER
Muhyiddin's remarks came after an announcement on the Sultan of Johor's official Facebook page on Friday that the Sultan would name the state's chief minister on Saturday.
The post was made after the Sultan and Muhyiddin discussed the matter on Friday.
Muhyiddin, who left former ruling coalition Barisan Nasional (BN) to join the opposition Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia, was himself touted for the post, but he did not put his name forward as a nominee.
He said that what was definite was that his name was not part of the list as he wanted to give a new face the chance to run the state as his time had "passed".
“The name will be known soon, and what is important is that it is the result of a consensus.
“We took into account experience in administration, politics, qualifications and eligibility, as well as other factors," he told reporters.
During the 90-minute meeting, Muhyiddin offered the name of the candidate to the sultan, according to another Facebook post.
"I have had a very good discussion with Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin on this. I am prepared to work with the new chief minister and the government," said the Sultan of Johor.
The three names he presented to the Sultan as potential candidates for the role are Salahuddin Ayub (Amanah deputy president), Aminolhuda Hassan (Amanah Johor chairman) and Osman Sapian (PPBM Johor secretary), Bernama reported.
The new chief minister would have been nominated by Pakatan Harapan leaders following the coalition's unprecedented win in the Malaysia general elections.
This is the first time in Malaysian history that Johor has fallen into the hands of the opposition. Pakatan’s component parties won 36 out of 56 state seats to take control of the state assembly, ousting the BN coalition that has ruled Johor since Malaysia’s independence.
BN won just 19 seats while the remaining seat went to Gagasan Sejahtera, a loose alliance of Islamic parties.
Caretaker chief minister Khaled Nordin from the former ruling party, BN, lost his Permas state seat to Pakatan’s Che Zakaria Salleh, who received 8,746 more votes. Khaled also lost his Pasir Gudang federal seat by almost 25,000 votes.
Meanwhile regarding the formation of the state executive council, Muhyiddin said this would be decided as soon as the chief minister is appointed.
However, he added the Johor executive council line-up usually had 10 posts, and he would hold a meeting with the PH component parties to determine who were suitable for these posts.