Malaysia and Singapore enjoy and share a special relationship due to their geographical, historical, familial, cultural, political, economic and strategic features. Their relationship is characterized by interdependence. The competitive world has brought about a close neighborly cooperation between the two nations to build resilience and strength. This article will examine the state of bilateral relations between these two countries under Malaysia's Prime Minister Mohd. Najib, and will analyze the future prospect of Malaysia and Singapore under his era. Under his era, Malaysia has been embarking on a series of initiatives in improving her relationship with Singapore, leaving tensions that took place during Mahathir era. Looking at the history of relations between the two countries, the role of leadership has played important role in the up and down of relationship. Under new generation of leaders in these two countries, we expect that they have new visions and put more efforts to nurture good relations. Personal contacts involving leaders and government officials of both countries still become the bases of relations between these two closed neighbors. The understanding reached by the leaders of the two countries has been and remain the fundamental to preserving long term mutual benefits. Leaders of both countries can play significant roles in overcoming conflicts and finding solutions to the problems that besieged the relations between the two countries. If both countries could maintain the momentum and capitalize the benefits of these initiatives, we foresee 1
This paper will be presenting to the 1st International Conference on International Relations and Development at Thammasat University, Bangkok, Thailand, 19-20 May 2011.
that both countries will not enter into troubled relationships like the previous periods, but it augurs well for strengthened relationships in the future.
INTRODUCTION The aim of this study is to examine the state of bilateral relations between two sovereign countries under Najib. Both countries have experienced a common colonial experience but have failed to achieve a successful unification on gaining independence. Malaysia and Singapore relations are unique and special due to factors such as geography, history, politics, ideology, economy, culture and ethnicity. These factors sometimes have created tensions between both countries. The uniqueness of the relationship is perhaps reflected by the various terms used to describe the state of rivalry between the two countries such as “Siamese twins”, “sibling rivalry” or “family quarrel”, suggesting a complex love-hate relationship that has grown out of a shared common history and cultural background, coloured by political differences and, ironically, by economic competition and interdependency. 2
Both countries have emphasized from time to time their economic interdependence and defence indivisibility. Even though they have been characterized by competition in economic and social matters, because of a very high level of economic interdependence as major trading partners, the geographical proximity of the two causeway neighbours have made their economic, security, and prosperity indivisible. 3
Since Singapore’s independence from the Federation of Malaysia in 1965, the bilateral relationship between Singapore and Malaysia has been described as symbiotic and interdependent. However, this mutually beneficial relationship has been marred by a number of problems that threaten this cooperation. In explaining this relationship, the Rusdi Omar, et. al. (2005). Hubungan Malaysia-Singapura Era Mahathir. Sintok: Penerbit Universiti Utara Malaysia. p. 2. 3 K.S. Nathan. (2002)....