Singapore hopes to have constructive, win-win ties with Malaysia
Singapore hopes it will continue to have a constructive and mutually beneficial relationship with Malaysia under its newly appointed Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, said Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan yesterday in Parliament.
"We look forward to Prime Minister Muhyiddin forming his new Cabinet soon. He hasn't announced it yet, but we know many of the personalities who are potential Cabinet members and we know them from our prolonged engagement over decades, and we wish them sincerely all the very best," he said.
"We hope we will continue to have a constructive, mutually beneficial relationship with Malaysia, and we look forward to resuming discussions on the ongoing issues and projects," he added.
During the debate on his Ministry's budget, Dr Balakrishnan noted that Singapore has always sought a win-win approach with Malaysia in the many areas where both countries have common interests.
These include building the Johor Baru Rapid Transit System Link and the Singapore-Kuala Lumpur High Speed Rail.
"These are mutually beneficial projects. But after the Pakatan Harapan government took office in May 2018, these projects were delayed," he added. "When that happened, we could have enforced our legal rights and sought full compensation from Malaysia."
Singapore did not do so "in the spirit of constructive bilateral cooperation".
Instead, at Malaysia's request, it agreed to temporarily suspend both projects through formal agreements, giving Malaysia time to review its position and propose changes to what was previously agreed on contractually, he said.
"However, these major infrastructure projects cannot be suspended indefinitely."
On water, Dr Balakrishnan noted that both Singapore and Malaysia have benefited from the 1962 Water Agreement, and must continue cooperating "effectively and urgently" to meet future challenges.
He said Singapore is prepared to discuss issues relating to the agreement with Malaysia, but its legal position - that Malaysia has lost the right to review the price of water under the agreement - remains unchanged.
Dr Balakrishnan said both sides have continued constructive discussions on issues such as maritime boundary delimitation, and cooperated in areas such as economic collaboration in Iskandar Malaysia.
Their health ministries have also set up a Joint Working Group to tackle the Covid-19 outbreak.