Singapore— After its postponement last November, the meeting between Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Malaysian Prime Minister Dr Tun Mahathir Mohamad is finally happening on April 8 and 9.
Channel NewsAsia reported that in an email, a spokesman from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) said that Malaysia proposed that the 9th Singapore-Malaysia Leaders’ Retreat be held in Putrajaya from April 8 to 9 and that Singapore agreed to this proposal.
This is the first time that Dr Mahathir’s Pakatan Harapan (PH) government will be hosting the retreat.
The meeting, which gives the heads of state an important opportunity for some one-on-one time with each other, began in 2012 when Malaysia’s former Prime Minister Najib Razak, was still in power.
Malaysia and Singapore are taking turns hosting the event.
The last time the event was held, Mr Najib came to Singapore in January of 2018, a few months before the last General Election in Malaysia, which was held in May.
PM Lee and then PM Najib talked about several projects, including the planned High-Speed Rail, which has since then been shelved.
The date for the meeting was also confirmed in Malaysia’s Parliament on Tuesday, March 26. Selayang MP William Leong asked a question concerning the relationship between the two countries in the context of maritime and airspace territorial disputes.
The question was answered by Malaysia’s Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah, who also told Members of Parliament about the upcoming Leaders’ Retreat.
He told the MPs that the meeting is an “important mechanism” not only to strengthen cooperation between Singapore and Malaysia but also to discover answers for problems that arise between them.
Mr Saiffudin said, “The government will always seek and explore new ways of cooperation to strengthen Malaysia and Singapore’s bilateral relationship.
At the same time, priority will be placed on finding peaceful solutions through discussion and negotiation.
Ongoing diplomatic efforts show the two governments’ commitment towards maintaining good existing ties and understanding in order to resolve bilateral issues for mutual interests.”
Malaysia’s Foreign Minister also said in Parliament that the fact that leaders from the two countries have made several working visits prove that Malaysia and Singapore are working together closely.
He himself visited Singapore last January, and other ministers such as Economic Affairs Minister Mohamed Azmin Ali and Transport Minister Anthony Loke have also made recent visits.
He assured Parliament that these visits would continue and that Malaysia would keep maintaining good relations with all countries, not just with Singapore.
Malaysia, he said, desires the success and prosperity of its neighbors, since this would have a good effect on the whole region as the whole region is inter-connected. And the opposite is true as well, he said. Any hardship a country would face would also negatively affect Malaysia and the region as a whole.