SINGAPORE - Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his Malaysian counterpart Najib Razak spoke of the close ties between the two countries on Wednesday as they jointly officiated at the opening of the Agrobazaar Malaysia outlet at Sultan Gate.
In his opening remarks at the ceremony, Datuk Seri Najib said the Agrobazaar was "a testament to the strong and enduring relationship" between the two countries.
"I can think of few better places than Singapore, which attracts so many international visitors, and which we share a common culinary heritage with. We may occasionally differ on terminology, but Singapore and Malaysians taste with one tongue," he said at the opening ceremony, which was attended by about 400 guests including Cabinet ministers of both countries.
"This explains why a fifth of our agro-food products - worth more than a billion US dollars - are exported to Singapore annually. And with the kind of cooperation we see here at the Agrobazaar, I am sure those numbers will continue to rise."
The 5,100 sq ft outlet serves to promote fresh Malaysian produce and is also a jumping-off point for Malaysian producers to access new international markets, Mr Najib added.
PM Lee, in his remarks, also referred to the close ties with Malaysia, and said Singapore looked forward to deepening interactions.
Such close interactions can, however, result in issues arising from time to time, he said. But he likened the friendship between the two countries to a "flowering fruit tree" that will have to be "continually nurtured and tended to".
"Sometimes, we enjoy the low hanging fruit, or even wait for the durians to fall. But sometimes we have to work harder to climb the tree and pluck the coconuts from the top," he said.
He added that if both sides kept lines of communication open, not just between the leaders, but also between ministers and senior officials and their counterparts, "then we can manage anything that comes along".
"This is the way to maintain and enhance mutual understanding, trust and respect, and continue to make progress on existing and new areas of cooperation."
He said that he anticipated further deepening ties in the near future, especially with the development of the Rapid Transit System (RTS) link between Johor Bahru and Singapore, and the High Speed Rail between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore.
"This will improve the flow of goods and people across borders and draw us closer together. It will create opportunities for our peoples to mingle and to understand each other's cultures and heritages better," he said.
The Agrobazaar Malaysia outlet here will feature and promote fresh fruit and agro-based produce from Malaysia. It is an initiative of its Ministry of Agriculture and Agro-Based Industry and its Federal Agricultural Marketing Authority (FAMA).