Close  

Singapore, Malaysia renew ties as historic rival surfaces

/ 03:40 PM November 12, 2018

Malaysia’s Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad (center) inspects an honor guard with Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (center left) during a visit at the Istana in Singapore on November 12, 2018. AP

SINGAPORE — Singapore’s leader vowed Monday to strengthen ties with Malaysia, which is now led by a historic rival following a game-changing election.

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said during a visit by his Malaysian counterpart, Mahathir Mohamad, that the countries had a “special bond” and were each other’s second-biggest trading partners. Singapore is also Malaysia’s second-largest foreign investor.

ADVERTISEMENT

“Singapore and Malaysia will always have a good place for each other in our hearts, and because of our proximity and interdependence, we will always have an interest in each other’s development and success,” Lee said, adding that he looked forward to working with Mahathir.

Mahathir led Malaysia for 22 years before stepping down in 2003. During his term there were frequent sharp exchanges with neighboring Singapore and Lee’s father, its first prime minister, Lee Kuan Yew.

FEATURED STORIES

In May, an electoral upset that toppled former Prime Minister Najib Razak brought Mahathir into power again. Mahathir had put aside a dispute with a former political nemesis to lead a four-party coalition to victory.

The 93-year-old plans to lead the country for at least two years before handing the reins to his former nemesis, Anwar Ibrahim.

Mahathir is on his first official visit to Singapore since winning the election. He said he hopes the two countries will maintain good relations, even with different administrations in power.

“Singapore and Malaysia are mutually dependent. Singapore has got no hinterland, but it must regard Malaysia as its hinterland. On the other hand, for a very long time, Malaysia had to depend on Singapore for its exports and imports,” Mahathir said.

Neither leader addressed bumps in projects since Mahathir has taken office. He has put the brakes on the construction of a high-speed rail connecting the country’s capital, Kuala Lumpur, and Singapore.

Mahathir is also renegotiating a decades-old water treaty, and plans to raise the price of water sold to Singapore by more than 10 times.

On Monday, Mahathir expressed hope that the countries will be able to work together despite having a rivalry.

ADVERTISEMENT

“Malaysia and Singapore are twins, in a way. Except that perhaps the elder twin is a little bit bigger than the younger twin and a little bit older,” he quipped, to laughter.

“It is not often that we see countries which come together, and then separated and still be able to … work together and help each other,” Mahathir added.

The two countries were briefly merged in 1963, but they separated two years later due to political and economic differences. /ee

Read Next
LATEST STORIES
MOST READ
Don't miss out on the latest news and information.
View comments

Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.

TAGS: International news, Malaysia, Singapore
For feedback, complaints, or inquiries, contact us.
entertainment

‘Beautiful’ lives up to its title

June 20, 2019 12:20 AM

entertainment

‘Feeling pretty good,’ Mick Jagger is back on track

June 20, 2019 12:15 AM

opinion

LGUs vs tourism

June 20, 2019 12:06 AM



© Copyright 1997-2019 INQUIRER.net | All Rights Reserved

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more, please click this link.