Singapore happy Thailand stable and making progress: PM Lee

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong with his Thai counterpart, General Prayut Chan-o-cha, who is in Singapore for a two-day introductory visit. -- ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong with his Thai counterpart, General Prayut Chan-o-cha, who is in Singapore for a two-day introductory visit. -- ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

SINGAPORE - Singapore, as a close friend of Thailand's and a fellow member of the 10-member Asean regional grouping, is happy to see Thailand stable and progressing, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said on Thursday.

"The (Thai) Prime Minister briefed me just now on the steps he's taking within Thailand and the steps forward for Thailand in his road map," Mr Lee said at a joint press conference with his Thai counterpart, General Prayut Chan-o-cha, who is in Singapore for a two-day introductory visit.

Gen Prayut, who led a coup in May last year, confirmed last month that Thailand's elections would be pushed back to September next year, to give the government time to prepare a referendum on a controversial draft Constitution.

He thanked PM Lee and the Singapore Government for "their understanding of the political situation in Thailand".

"Thailand has now returned to order and stability. I updated PM Lee on the progress of the implementation of the three-phase road map and the political reform process in building a foundation for a stronger and more sustainable democracy for Thailand to prepare for the general election next year," he said in remarks translated into English.

"The return of Thailand to order and stabilty will help contribute to the overall stability and security of Asean, as well as to the bilateral relationship between Thailand and Singapore," he added.

Said Mr Lee: "We stand by the people of Thailand and we will be happy to see Thailand succeed."

The prime ministers also congratulated each other's country on their showing at the ongoing SEA Games.

Mr Lee reaffirmed the strong bilateral relationship between Singapore and Thailand and said there was a lot of scope for the countries to cooperate further.

Earlier in the afternoon, Singapore and Thailand inked a new agreement to avoid double taxation, as well as signed memoranda of understanding to cooperate in cruise tourism and media.

The Singapore Manufacturing Federation and Federation of Thai Industries also signed an agreement to strengthen business relations between the two countries.

Gen Prayut also called on President Tony Tan Keng Yam at the Istana, where a welcome ceremony for him and the Thai delegation was held.

charyong@sph.com.sg