He says both sides see this as a ‘last chance’ and are keen to foster better relations
SENIOR Minister Goh Chok Tong yesterday shed light on why the prime ministers of Singapore and Malaysia are keen to foster better relations.
Both leaders, he said, understood that this was a ‘last chance’ for them to get bilateral ties on a better footing.
Malaysian PM Najib Razak was in Singapore on Thursday for a two-day official visit to meet Singapore leaders.
Yesterday, Mr Goh related his meeting with Datuk Seri Najib on Friday: ‘He was very positive about wanting to foster better relations.’
He added: ‘He and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong belong to the same generation, it is much easier for them to forge a rapport.
‘But more importantly he understood, and so does PM Lee, that this in a way is a last chance for us to get our relations together.
‘If both of them could not put bilateral relations on a positive footing and the legacy issues continue into the future, then I think it will be very difficult for the next generation of prime ministers to begin to restore relations.’
During Mr Najib’s visit, he and Mr Lee agreed to turn a page on bilateral ties and move relations forward in a productive manner.
Both agreed that ‘legacy’ problems both sides inherited had to be set aside – or steps need to be taken to resolve them.
They pledged to look at how to implement a stalled 18-year-old Points Of Agreement on the development and status of railway land in Singapore, the interpretation of which Malaysia disputes.
Mr Goh also said he was ‘very positive’ about his meeting with Mr Najib.
‘He will try to resolve the bilateral problems. Where they cannot be resolved for the time being, he says let us move on with cooperation in many areas.
‘And that is also the desire of Singapore,’ the Senior Minister added.
Commenting on the idea of a third bridge between Singapore and Johor, Mr Goh said: ‘We have got to study that first.’
It is a good proposal, he added, ‘but it has got to be looked into, in particular as to when it should be implemented’.
‘Conceptually, it is a good idea but economically, I am not sure whether it’s feasible in the short term.
‘But this is an idea for the medium-term and long term,’ he said.
There are two bridges connecting Singapore and Johor. One is the Causeway and the other is the newer Second Link between the western parts of both places.
Mr Najib had raised the possibility of a third bridge to link the the eastern parts of Johor and Singapore.
He had said at a joint press conference on Friday: ‘We both agree that we should look at it in the medium and long term.
‘No great hurry. But let us commission a proper study (of its) viability.’
Source : Straits Times