SINGAPORE: Singapore-Malaysia relations have "never been better", said Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak in a speech at the Economic Society of Singapore’s (ESS) annual dinner on Tuesday (May 5).
"I am delighted that relations between Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and I, and therefore between our two governments, are now so warm – indeed, I think it would be no exaggeration to say they have never been better in our countries’ histories," Mr Najib said, hours after concluding the Annual Singapore-Malaysia Leaders' Retreat with Mr Lee.
He cited the resolution of the Malaysia–Singapore Points of Agreement in 2010 a good example of cooperation. After settling long-standing differences over land and water, both countries have moved forward, he noted.
"Nevertheless, as close neighbours, we do have challenges like having to manage our differences," he said. He quoted a Malay proverb, to describe the relationship. "We are like tongue and teeth. In other words, we are close and need to work together to find positive solutions," he stressed.
Mr Najib also referenced an orchid hybrid at the Singapore Botanic Gardens that was named after him and his wife Rosmah Mansor in 2009, in talking about bilateral relations. “The relationship between Malaysia and Singapore – it needs to be nurtured. And looked after carefully and lovingly. Only then it will blossom and flourish beautifully.”
He said close relations had tangible economic and security benefits to all Malaysians and Singaporeans. Mr Najib added that he was confident the two nations would be able to resolve other bilateral issues, such as those affecting investments and movement of people the two countries' borders.
During the speech Prime Minister Najib also touched on the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC). "I am aware that there are some who are a little skeptical about the AEC being set up on time. Let me reassure you, the ASEAN leaders remain absolutely committed to this. The current implementation rate of AEC initiatives is over 90 per cent, and we will press for that figure to rise."
The dinner, held at the Shangri-La Hotel, was attended by Prime Minister Lee, Minister for Trade and Industry Lim Hng Kiang, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office S Iswaran, the High Commissioner of Malaysia in Singapore Husni Zai, as well as ESS president Euston Quah.