SINGAPORE: The Malaysian Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Dato’ Seri Anwar Ibrahim, made an official visit to Singapore from Oct 29 to 30 at the invitation of Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. The visit marked the resumption of the Singapore-Malaysia Leaders’ Retreat, a significant platform for bilateral discussions and cooperation, following a three-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 10th Singapore-Malaysia Leaders’ Retreat took place between Oct 29 and 30. It provided both leaders with an opportunity to not only address existing bilateral issues but also explore new avenues for cooperation between the two neighbouring nations. It was the first Leaders’ Retreat held since 2019, with the 9th Leaders’ Retreat taking place in Putrajaya, Malaysia, in April 2019.

In a statement issued by Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), the retreat was described as an important occasion for both countries to evaluate and strengthen their growing cooperation.

On the second day of the retreat, Prime Minister Anwar had a series of significant meetings. He first called on newly elected President Tharman Shanmugaratnam and met with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. Subsequently, the Prime Ministers and their respective delegations engaged in bilateral discussions, culminating in the signing of key bilateral agreements in various areas of cooperation.

Prime Minister Anwar was accompanied by a high-level delegation from Malaysia, including Minister of Foreign Affairs Dato’ Seri Diraja Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir, Minister of Transport Anthony Loke Siew Fook, Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry Tengku Datuk Seri Utama Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz, Minister of Natural Resources, Environment and Climate Change Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad, Minister of Home Affairs Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail, Minister of Entrepreneur Development and Cooperatives Datuk Ewon Benedick, Premier of Sarawak Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Dr Abang Haji Abdul Rahman Zohari Bin Tun Datuk Abang Haji Openg, Chief Minister of Johor Datuk Onn Hafiz Ghazi, and Attorney General Datuk Terrirudin Mohd Salleh.

The Singaporean delegation, led by Prime Minister Lee, included Deputy Prime Minister & Minister for Finance Lawrence Wong, Senior Minister & Coordinating Minister for National Security Teo Chee Hean, Minister for Foreign Affairs Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister for Home Affairs and Law K Shanmugam, Minister for Trade and Industry Gan Kim Yong, Minister for Social and Family Development Masagos Zulkifli, Minister for National Development Desmond Lee, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office and Second Minister for Education and Foreign Affairs Dr Maliki Osman, Acting Minister for Transport Chee Hong Tat, Senior Minister of State for Sustainability and Environment and, for Manpower Dr Koh Poh Koon, and Attorney-General Lucien Wong.

PM Lee said on Facebook: “It was a fruitful meeting. Our ministers agreed to update the Malaysia-Singapore Business Development Fund and signed an MOU to deepen collaboration between SMEs of both countries. We also took the opportunity to discuss various bilateral issues.

“With our shared history, similar cultures, as well as being each other’s second largest trading partners, Singapore and Malaysia have a unique relationship – a partnership that I hope will endure for many years to come.”

Expressing similar sentiments, PM Anwar said: “This retreat succeeded in achieving important progress in the effort to unravel some outstanding issues between the two countries, including an understanding for the two countries to examine the issue of airspace control in southern Malaysia. This is an extraordinary achievement in Malaysia-Singapore bilateral relations.

“Regarding the issue of the water supply agreement with Singapore, I emphasize that the negotiations between the two countries need to be seen more broadly and not focused on the sale price of water alone, but also Singapore’s role in increasing the water production capacity of the Johor River together with the state government.

“I also expressed Malaysia’s commitment to supply renewable energy through exports from Sarawak, which helps Singapore and benefits Malaysia.”

He added, “Overall, this retreat proves that Malaysia and Singapore are capable of resolving any dispute in the spirit of friendship, reaching a win-win solution.”

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