Putrajaya—As part of the 9th Malaysia-Singapore Leaders’ Retreat, Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong issued an invitation to Malaysian Prime Minister Dr Tun Mahathir Mohamad and his wife, Dr Siti Hasmah Mohamad Ali, to attend Singapore’s Bicentennial National Day Parade on 9 August 2019.
The end of the joint statement from the leaders reads, “Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong invited Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Mohamad Ali to attend Singapore’s Bicentennial National Day Parade on 9 August 2019, and Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir accepted the invitation. Prime Minister Lee looked forward to hosting Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir for this important milestone celebration.”
What happened at the Leaders’ Retreat?
At the summit, which was the first between PM Lee and Dr Mahathir, the two Prime Ministers were able to discuss the different issues that had added to the tension between Singapore and Malaysia, especially toward the end of 2018, when both maritime and airspace issues arose.
Regarding the maritime dispute, the joint statement said that Dr Mahathir and PM Lee noted that progress had been made in implementing the recommendations of the Working Group on maritime issues surrounding the Johor Bahru Port Limits off Tanjung Piai and Singapore Port Limits off Tuas to resolve the situation, which in turn will clear the way for maritime boundary delimitation of the area.
Furthermore, the statement said the state heads welcomed the establishment of the committee to start negotiations on maritime boundary delimitation in the area within one month, to be headed by the Secretary General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Malaysia and the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Singapore.
The leaders also said they are anticipating the convening of the 8th Meeting of the Malaysia-Singapore Joint Technical Committee on the Implementation of the International Court of Justice Judgment on Pedra Branca, Middle Rocks and South Ledge for the resolution of outstanding bilateral maritime boundary delimitation issues in the area.
As for the airspace issue, the statement says that the bilateral agreement for Singapore to withdraw the Instrument Landing System procedures for Seletar Airport and for Malaysia to suspend the permanent Restricted Area over Pasir Gudang airspace indefinitely was also welcomed by the leaders.
Regarding the water issue, the position of both countries under the 1962 Water Agreement was noted at the summit. The Attorneys-General of both countries will meet to discuss this.
Other areas that the two leaders made progress on were the Johor Bahru-Singapore Rapid Transit System (RTS) Link Project and the suspension of the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High-Speed Rail Project until 31 May 2020.
PM Lee and Dr Mahathir also mentioned in the joint statement that the two countries are cooperating in the area of investigating offenses, with bank account information, fund transfers and other transactions in connection with the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal.
The Prime Minister of Singapore noted on his Facebook account that the summit had indeed been productive, writing, “A fruitful Leaders’ Retreat with Malaysian PM Mahathir Mohamad earlier today. We discussed many issues concerning both countries and agreed to strive for a cooperative and forward-looking relationship.
As close neighbours bound by history and kinship, we must expect issues to crop up from time to time. When this happens, we need to keep channels of communication open, build trust, and tackle the issues pragmatically and with an eye to both sides’ concerns. Then we can move beyond solving problems to cooperating for mutual benefit.”
He also thanked the government of Malaysia for hosting the event. Singapore will be hosting the 10th Retreat in 2020.
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