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Singapore, Malaysia affirm desire to maintain good ties

This article is more than 12 months old

M'sia's Azmin Ali calls on ministers Lawrence Wong, Khaw Boon Wan and Vivian Balakrishnan to reaffirm desire for good ties

Malaysia's Economic Affairs Minister Azmin Ali was scheduled to jointly chair a meeting on bilateral cooperation for Iskandar Malaysia with Singapore's National Development Minister Lawrence Wong in the Republic yesterday.

But the meeting of the Joint Ministerial Committee (JMC) for Iskandar Malaysia was postponed last week, following Johor Menteri Besar Osman Sapian's intrusion into Singapore territorial waters.

Nevertheless, Mr Azmin made a two-day visit that saw both governments affirming a desire to maintain good ties to benefit their interdependent economies.

Mr Azmin met Mr Wong over breakfast yesterday, before meeting Coordinating Minister for Infrastructure and Minister for Transport Khaw Boon Wan. He also met Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan on Sunday.

All four leaders have since posted on their respective social media channels about putting "bilateral relations back on track" and working towards the mutual benefit of the two neighbours.

Mr Azmin said in a Facebook post after his meeting with Mr Wong that they had "a frank and positive discussion on bilateral issues concerning Singapore and Malaysia".

Mr Wong said on Facebook that they had a good breakfast meeting.

"I'm glad that Minister Azmin continued with his visit to Singapore to meet with us, and to discuss ways to put our bilateral relations on track," he said.

Mr Azmin had met Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan for dinner on Sunday.

"We had an open and candid discussion of the issues currently confronting us.

"We reaffirmed that there are far more opportunities for Malaysia and Singapore to work together, especially at this time of global economic transformation," Dr Balakrishnan said after the dinner and a stroll along the Singapore River with Mr Azmin.

Mr Azmin, a senior minister in Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad's Cabinet, described their meeting as "productive... as we work towards resolving some bilateral issues", in a Facebook post.

Last week, after Mr Osman boarded a Malaysian government vessel to visit another vessel anchored illegally in Singapore's territorial waters off Tuas, Singapore protested the intrusion in a diplomatic note and proposed to postpone the JMC meeting.

Malaysia agreed.

GOOD WILL & TRUST

Dr Balakrishnan explained to Parliament yesterday the intrusion went against the spirit of the foreign ministers' agreement.

He said: "It undermined the goodwill and trust necessary for further cooperation between the two countries, especially cooperation involving Johor.

"It made it untenable to proceed with the JMC meeting."

Mr Osman would also have been involved in the JMC meeting.

"But most regrettably, the Menteri Besar staged a publicised visit to the Malaysian Marine Department vessel anchored in Singapore territorial waters off Tuas on Jan 9, 2019," Dr Balakrishnan said. - THE STRAITS TIMES

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