KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin has called to congratulate his Singaporean counterpart Mr Lee Hsien Loong after the People's Action Party's victory in the recent General Election.
In a statement on Sunday night (Jul 12), Singapore's Ministry for Foreign Affairs (MFA) said Mr Lee and Mr Muhyiddin had a "good" discussion about the "strong and positive" relationship between both countries.
"The prime ministers welcomed the steadfast progress that both sides have made in a wide-ranging slate of bilateral initiatives, including ongoing cross-border connectivity projects and the movement of people," the statement said.
"Prime Minister Lee and Prime Minister Muhyiddin agreed that the two governments should continue to work together to overcome the common challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic," it added.
On Saturday, the PAP returned to power after winning 83 seats out of an available 93 and clinched 61.24 per cent of the votes. The polls also saw the Workers’ Party (WP) claim its second Group Representation Constituency (GRC).
In a Facebook post on Sunday night, Mr Muhyiddin wrote: "I am confident the bilateral relations between both countries will continue to blossom under the leadership of His Excellency Lee Hsien Loong as prime minister."
He added that the two leaders agreed to remain positive in finding solutions for bilateral issues which "have not been resolved" between the two countries.
Mr Muhyiddin said that during the conversation with Mr Lee, he raised ongoing discussions on allowing cross-border travel between both countries amid travel restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Last month, the two leaders agreed to establish a Reciprocal Green Lane (RGL) and a Periodic Commuting Arrangement (PCA) for different groups of travellers.
The RGL will facilitate cross-border travel for essential business and official purposes while the PCA will allow Singapore and Malaysia residents who hold long-term immigration passes for business and work purposes in the other country to periodically return to their home countries for short-term home leave.
Travellers would have to adhere to a set of COVID-19 prevention and public health measures, which are being discussed and will have to be mutually agreed upon by both countries.
In his Facebook post, Mr Muhyiddin wrote: "I said Malaysia is keen to see discussions for both these initiatives - believed to the in the final stages - to be concluded and implemented in the short term."
He added that both leaders also discussed the Rapid Transit System (RTS) Link project, and said that he was "confident" that ongoing discussions between both countries will be wrapped up in the near future.
The project aims to connect Bukit Chagar in Johor Bahru to Woodlands in Singapore, serving about 10,000 passengers per hour each way to help ease traffic congestion on the Causeway.
Earlier on Sunday, Singapore's Ministry of Transport (MOT) said it was "optimistic" that discussions on the project can be concluded by the deadline at the end of July.
Malaysia's transport minister also said on Saturday that Malaysia will wait for Singapore's new Cabinet to form and aim to complete negotiations before the deadline.
“If we are able to complete the negotiations next week, the time would have come for us to seal the agreement. We must do all this before the Jul 31 deadline,” said Dr Wee Ka Siong.
Mr Muhyiddin added that he also thanked Mr Lee for agreeing to defer the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High-Speed Rail (HSR) project without any cost or financial penalty.
The construction of the 350km-long HSR project has been suspended since September 2018 and was due to resume at the end of May. The suspension has been extended to the end of this year.
"This is very significant in reflecting the good relations between the two countries," wrote Mr Muhyiddin.
He added that the two leaders also reaffirmed their commitment to meet soon to discuss various issues as soon as the COVID-19 situation improves in both countries.