SINGAPORE: Singapore and Malaysia are closely linked by ties of kinship and history, geography and economy, and the fundamentals of Singapore's relationship with Malaysia have not changed, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said on Sunday (August 19)
In his National Day Rally speech, he stressed the need for both countries to work together to address common challenges and find constructive ways to resolve differences when interests diverge.
"If relations between Singapore and Malaysia can remain stable and in short, we can pursue a win-win collaboration and we can each focus on our own domestic priorities," he said.
HIGH-SPEED RAIL, RTS LINK PROJECTS HAVE LEGALLY BINDING AGREEMENTS
Mr. Lee pointed out that the Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and his team are determined to do much of the policy of their previous government. review and change. But although he "appreciates their reasons," he noted that some of their assessments affect Singapore's ongoing projects with Malaysia, such as the High Speed Rail (HSR) and Rapid Transit System (RTS) Link to Johor.
After Dr Mahathir's The coalition of Pakatan Harapan formed the new government in Malaysia after the general election in Malaysia, Malaysia took up to negotiate a postponement of the HSR project.
"We have entered into these two projects confidently, after careful negotiations because they benefited both countries," Lee said, adding that both have legally binding bilateral agreements.
"These have clearly set out the tasks of each party, and what happens when one of the parties wants to change or to end the agreements," he said. "Both parties must implement what has been agreed, unless we agree to change the conditions."
Dr. Mahathir had also expressed his displeasure with the Water Agreement of 1962, according to which Singapore gets the full and exclusive right to sign up to a maximum of 250 million gallons of water per day from the river Johore. He had said it was unfavorable for Malaysia and wanted it to be renegotiated. Singapore then said that it will fully comply with the provisions of the 1962 Water Treaty and expects Malaysia to do the same.
Earlier this month, Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan spoke about the "clear and consistent position of Singapore" on this issue – something that Mr. Lee also emphasized in his speech.
"You know the position of Singapore – the water agreement is sacred," he said. "We must act strictly in accordance with the conditions."
Nonetheless Mr. Lee said that Singapore has worked well with Malay over the years and "has done substantial projects with successive governments".
"I hope that with Dr. Mahathir and his new team, we can build on our deep collaboration, look forward and continue together," he said.
Mr. Lee talked about relations between Singapore and its two closest neighbors, Malaysia and Indonesia.
In the case of Indonesia, Mr. Lee said he worked well with Indonesian President Joko Widodo, who will also host him their annual Leaders "Retreat on Bali in October.
"We will discuss ways to do more together," he said.
WORLD SITUATION "MUCH MORE UNCERTAINTY", NEED FOR ASEAN [TE VERSTERKEN] 19659002] In his speech, Mr. Lee also emphasized the importance of ASEAN regional grouping "in an uncertain world", working on relationships with all ASEAN partners.
He said he hopes the recent Trump-Kim Summit has helped to defuse tensions on the Korean peninsula, but noted that Korea is not the only problem in the world.
Describing the world situation as "much more uncertain", Mr. Lee said that openness, globalization and free trade are all under pressure.
For example, the United States, which promoted the free trade and free movement of persons, has now made "rebalancing trade" a top priority, he explained, and unilaterally set tariffs on imports from other countries. This includes the European Union, Canada, Mexico and especially China.
These countries repaid and imposed their own rates on American exports.
"This tit-for-tat affects business confidence, undermines the multilateral trading system, and threatens global prosperity," he said. "There are no winners in a trade war."
"Small and open economies are particularly vulnerable, and Singapore will suffer additional damage."
But outside the economy, Mr. Lee noted that world peace and stability are in danger, because trade restrictions have eroded confidence and tensions and rivalries between countries have intensified.
For example, the United States and Europeans have long been regular friends and allies, but are now "fiercely fighting" about trade and defense spending, he
As far as China and the US are concerned, Lee said that both powers "the most important bilateral relationship in the world".
"They are interdependent and need to work closely together on global issues such as climate change," he said.
"But the Trump government has labeled China as the" strategic competitor "of America, and President Xi Jinping has warned that China will strike back and not turn the other cheek & # 39; "
Mr. Lee described this as an" unprecedented situation ", and a" turning point ".
"We can not trust that the great powers will continue to work together, and that the existing international system that has kept the world together for so long will still hold on to it," he said. "We do not know whether, after a while, new rules and standards for international cooperation will arise, or that there will be long-term tension and suspicion, mutual rivalry and hostile blocks."
"We hope that all countries will act with restraint and wisdom, overcome the current challenges and find a new way to move forward together," he added.