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Malaysia values relationship with Singapore, hopes to resolve chicken export situation 'quickly', says Khairy

Malaysia values relationship with Singapore, hopes to resolve chicken export situation 'quickly', says Khairy

Customers looking at chicken products at the FairPrice outlet at Chinatown Point on May 31, 2022. (Photo: CNA reader)

SINGAPORE: Malaysian Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said on Thursday (Jun 2) that his country values its ties with Singapore and hopes to resolve the situation involving a chicken export ban “quickly”.

Facing reporters during a four-day visit to Singapore, Mr Khairy said: “We value our bilateral relationship with Singapore. This is not an easy decision for us to make,” referring to Malaysia's decision to temporarily stop chicken exports as it grapples with a supply shortage that has led to rising poultry prices. 

Singapore imports a third of its chicken from Malaysia, almost all of which is brought in as live poultry to be slaughtered and chilled locally.

Mr Khairy added that he hopes the situation will be “temporary in nature” until supply and cost issues stabilise.

“Once these things resolve itself, and we hope that it can be resolved very quickly, then of course we hope to resume exports of poultry including to Singapore,” he said.

Explaining that Malaysia was in a “very difficult situation” due to supply chain problems involving chicken feed, Mr Khairy also cited "climate change issues" for affecting the time taken for chickens to grow.

“All of these factors have coalesced to create a situation where there was a shortage and high price(s) in Malaysia,” he said.

“Countries obviously will look to (secure) their own food requirements. We (are) also well aware that we have (a) responsibility as exporters to our neighbours including Singapore.” 

He told reporters that the situation is “already improving” as Malaysia is looking into affordable substitutes for chicken feed and is also working closely with poultry producers to ensure they can increase production.

'PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP' BETWEEN SINGAPORE AND MALAYSIA

Addressing a question on bilateral ties, Mr Khairy said that the relationship between Singapore and Malaysia “should not just be one that is technical and official in nature”.

“We can always look at the technical wording of the agreement. But we should go beyond that. It's the personal relationship … the give and take, (the) understanding that yes, there is an agreement,” said Mr Khairy, who has met several Cabinet members, including Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, during this trip to Singapore.

A meeting between Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (right) and Malaysian Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin at the Istana in Singapore on Jun 2, 2022. (Photo: Facebook/Lee Hsien Loong/MCI)

“We are too close for us to operate in a manner which detaches feelings from one another, we have to take into consideration each other's feelings,” he added.

When countries have a good personal and professional relationship, they can “just call up and come to an agreement”, Mr Khairy said, referring to Singapore and Malaysia’s decision to reopen borders in April.

“I think that small analogy of how we work together in the pandemic should extend to other things as well, all the outstanding issues. Because together, we are much stronger,” he added.

Source: CNA/ng(ac)

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