In a speech at the Opening of the Legal Year 2019 on Monday, January 7, Singapore’s Attorney-General Lucien Wong emphasized the challenges that Singapore faced last year, specifically with its closest neighbor, Malaysia, due to the political changes in that country.
Wong said, “As a small country, Singapore is never immune from political changes in neighbouring countries, especially Malaysia.”
The Attorney-General further explained his point by saying, “The change in government in Malaysia has had significant impact on ongoing projects involving Malaysia and Singapore such as the High-Speed Railway (HSR)”, as well as the Pedra Branca disputes, wherein Malaysia withdrew its applications a fortnight before a hearing on the issue before the International Court of Justice was scheduled.
On the matter of the HSR, Wong added, “Our officers were on hand to advise the Government on this matter, working in support of the negotiating teams.” He noted that an agreement was reached that was mutually satisfactory for both sides.
Support for the government was also provided by the Attorney-General’s Chambers on other matters relating to ties with Malaysia, including territorial disputes both regarding airspace over southern Johor and the alleged extension of port limits in Johor, as well as a review of water prices based on the 1962 Water Agreement between Singapore and Malaysia.
As reported by Channel NewsAsia, Wong also said in his speech, “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.
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.”
Handling the intricacies of cross-border ties played a big part in the work of the Attorney-General’s Chambers, Wong reiterated.