Relationship with Malaysia Good but Issues Remain for Successor to Resolve, Says PM Lee

Relationship with Malaysia Good but Issues Remain for Successor to Resolve, Says PM Lee

SINGAPORE: Singapore’s outgoing Prime Minister, Lee Hsien Loong, said the republic’s relationship with neighboring Malaysia has been “generally good” throughout his tenure, but there are still some issues that his successor needs to address.
Lee, in an interview with local media ahead of the leadership transition on May 15, said that during his 20 years as Prime Minister, progress has been made on several issues with his counterparts in Malaysia, including the Pedra Branca (Pulau Batu Puteh) and Malayan Railway land issues.

“For example, with (Tun) Abdullah Badawi, he was Prime Minister when the Pedra Branca decision was issued by the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

“We discussed it, I spoke with him, and we decided to accept this decision, and now we have to move on to the next stage,” he said in the interview aired on Friday.

The transcript of the interview was also shared on the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) website.

Lee, who became Singapore’s third Prime Minister in 2004, has worked with many Malaysian Prime Ministers, starting with Abdullah, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob, and Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.
The Singaporean government leader said that with his current counterpart, Anwar, both sides discussed important cooperation including the Rapid Transit System (RTS Link) which will connect Johor, Malaysia, with Singapore.

“We discussed other issues that could lead to cooperation but are also sensitive. Airspace, maritime borders…, water, these are matters that need to be discussed. We haven’t resolved them. So, there is still work to be done by my successor,” he said.

Lee said that relationships with neighboring countries like Malaysia will always be “complicated” as they could potentially lead to differing views.

“I think both sides know this, and both are trying their best not to quarrel, because there’s a lot that can be done together,” he said.
Lee will step down from his position on May 15 to make way for his successor, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Lawrence Wong, who will be sworn in as Singapore’s fourth Prime Minister on the same date.

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