SINGAPORE: The past year has been challenging, with Singapore’s bilateral ties with its closest neighbour “put to the test”, Attorney-General Lucien Wong said on Monday (Jan 7).
“As a small country, Singapore is never immune from political changes in neighbouring countries, especially Malaysia,” he said in his speech at the Opening of the Legal Year 2019.
Other than the Pedra Branca disputes which ended with the withdrawal of applications by Malaysia about two weeks before their scheduled hearing at the International Court of Justice, “the change in government in Malaysia has had significant impact on ongoing projects involving Malaysia and Singapore such as the High Speed Railway”, he said.
“Our officers were on hand to advise the Government on this matter, working in support of the negotiating teams,” said the Attorney-General.
READ: Commentary: Did the KL-Singapore high-speed rail unravel because of costs? Note other railways in Asia
The outcome was positive and balanced, he added, resulting in a mutually agreeable resolution between both countries.
The Attorney-General’s Chambers has also continued supporting the Government on other Malaysia-related issues, including the purported extension of Johor port limits into Singapore territorial waters, airspace management over southern Johor and the review of water prices under the 1962 Water Agreement with Malaysia.
This management of cross-border relationships was a theme apparent in the AGC’s work last year, said the Attorney-General.
“We, as Singaporeans, have grown up with the mantra that Singapore as a small nation-state has no hinterland and is dependent on trade and human connections to thrive,” he said.
“Singapore needs to build and manage its network of relations with other states and law is an important tool which enables us as a small state to do so.”