Journal/Malaysia-Singapore Relations: Issues and Strategies

Topics: Singapore, Southeast Asia, Malaysia Pages: 8 (2368 words) Published: June 24, 2013
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by Rusdi Omar
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Singapore-Malaysia relations are marked by close inter-dependence. Singapore and Malaysiahave always shared strong economic and people-to-people linkages. From Singapore's standpoint,the relationship should be based on mutual respect, mutual benefit, and adherence to internationallaw and agreements. Singapore will continue to seek new areas of cooperation to strengthenbilateral relations with Malaysia even further. From Malaysia’s side, the relationship must be on“win-win” situation approach, which means both countries will get benefit from that relationship. From my point of view, both Malaysia and Singapore know the importance of their relationship towards thedevelopment of their respective countries. We can not deny that we are interdependent in terms of economic, security and social aspects. For example, in term of economic aspect, most Malaysians knowSingapore is one of the biggest investors in Malaysia and vice versa.There are several strategies/efforts that will improve the relationship between both countries, such asintensifying official visits (government-to-government relations); developing people-to-people (P-P) contacts;deepening public sector economic links; expanding private sector economic links ; and renewingeducational and sporting events. 18

If both countries implement and emphasize these initiatives, the writerssee that both countries will not enter into troubled relationships, but it augurs well for strengthenedrelationships in the future.The intensity of cooperations in various areas has been made possible by the warming of the relationshipbetween the two countries in recent years. Yang di-Pertuan Agong of Malaysia (Malaysian Head of State)during the officials visit to Singapore in 23 January 2006 has said that; “ No doubt, the positive political environment, growing trade figures and investment flows,increasing exchange of visits and strengtherning cooperation in various areas, augur well for the future outlook in our bilateral relations” . 19

The first strategy that will improve the relationship between two countries is to intensify official visitsof both countries. Official visits by heads of government, ministers, senior officials and etceteramust be intensified from time to time. Under the current leadership of both countries, many effortshave been taken to overcome these problems, for example, regular meetings that incorporateinformal social activities such as annual golf and sports meetings between cabinet members of both countries, and the holding of joint cultural and religious festivals that involve the leaders fromboth sides of the causeway (e.g. Hari Raya and Chinese New Year celebrations held in Johor). Also, the number increase of visits between two countries at ministerial, senior officials andtechnical levels. All these efforts are designed to enhance peoples’ relationships so they canwithstand the possible turbulence created by political and other friction that might surface from timeto time. Thus, it creates the necessary goodwill and positive atmosphere conducive to resolvingissues and problems.Recently, the visit of Singaporean political leaders to Langkawi to meet their counterparts of Malaysia is a right time and very important event for both countries. May be from this visit, bothcountries can achieve some approaches in handling and resolving the unsettled issues, although 18

Saw Swee-Hock & K.Kesavapany.
Ibid., p. 20.

we know it is impossible to settle all their problems which have long roots in history. The currentinfomal meetings and talks of the leadership of both countries for example is one approach for bothcountries to design a pathway to resume talks on bilateral issues. Although, we am...

References: Rusdi Omar, et. al. (2005).
(2002). 14 October 14. p. 19.Ghazali Shafie. (1990). “Singapore and Malaysia: Inseparable Twins”, in Trends, Institute of Southeast Asian Studies,
Straits Times
, December 21.Chang Li Lin. (2003). Singapore’s Troubled Relations With Malaysia: A Singapore Perspective.
ISEAS Working Papers on Economics and Finance No. 1. Singapore: Institute of Southeast AsianStudies.Saw Swee-Hock & K.Kesavapany. (2006).
(2000). January 22.“AMMB in Talks to Buy Out of Fraser Securities”,
New Straits Times.
(2005). February 2.
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