Singapore—Despite the thorny issues between Singapore and Malaysia, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim still considers the former “a great neighbour and friend,” and believes that it is mutually beneficial to work together based on trust.
Speaking at a plenary session of the Inter-Pacific Bar Association Meeting and Conference on Friday, April 26, the Malaysian MP and presumptive Prime Minister talked about the history, as well as similarities and differences, between the two nations.
“Singapore is considered to be a great neighbour, a great friend, but you have evolved differently.
Singapore started as a very rugged society, but it has become a bit tough on negotiations.
We have common history, we are mutually dependent. It would benefit us, Malaysia and Singapore, immensely – economically, socially, culturally, security – if we work together more effectively, based on trust of course.” Mr Anwar added.
However, he emphasized how important it is for the two nations to be “on the best of terms,” and to resolve the issues that arise between them peaceably.
“This is the sentiment of the leadership.
It is too important, even for us, to be on the best of terms with our neighbours in Asean, but more so with Singapore.
No countries now in ASEAN, has that sort of relationship – a common history and even family bonds – like Malaysia and Singapore.”
The regional head of Disputes Practices at law firm Rajah & Tann Asia, Francis Xavier, who moderated the plenary session, asked Mr Anwar concerning bilateral relations between Singapore and Malaysia in connection with the current and coming issues that Malaysia and South East Asia as a whole will face.
Mr Anwar, who is expected to succeed current Prime Minister Dr Tun Mahathir Mohamad after some time, also focused on the need for the two countries to find new ways of strengthening their relationship even as Malaysia is undergoing “a period of transition and economic problems due to the mismanagement” that occurred in the previous regime.
The Malaysian MP said, “All neighbours … will have contentious issues. But the overriding interests are important here. Singapore and Malaysia have so much in common.
It is an imperative, notwithstanding some contentious issues which must be handled with care and must be resolved amicably.
Handle with care…that is very clear as a matter of policy.”
He also emphasized that his vision is toward the future. “I want to move on, I don’t want to dwell on the past. The interest of the nation must supersede my personal predicament and difficulties.”
However, he also acknowledged the current problems the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government is facing, as they had not expected the economic situation would be “so bad”.
“Right now there is growing apprehension or frustration… Whether they’re going to shift the level of support, we don’t know. But we still have time. We have four years, four years is reasonable time if we remain consistent in our policies, rid the country of corruption and racism and propel the economy.”
Channel NewsAsia (CNA) reports that Singapore’s Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam had praises for Mr Anwar after his session on Friday morning.
“Datuk Seri has been known for something like 40-50 years now as one of the most charismatic politicians on either side of the causeway. If you listen to his rally speeches, they are something else.
But at the same time it has been a roller coaster ride in politics. He has reached the heights and also there have been some very difficult moments of extreme turbulence.
We wish you and Malaysia the very best as we look to the future,” Mr Shanmugam added./TISG
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