KUALA LUMPUR (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Malaysia cannot blame Singapore entirely for the bilateral problems the two nations faced, says former Malaysian prime minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.
He said that "we must also look at ourselves in the mirror" from time to time, referring to Malaysians.
"In seeking co-operation, both Malaysia and Singapore must recognise that we cannot expect to change each other's policies or the way we conduct our international relations.
"There will inevitably be differences between us," the country's fifth prime minister said when launching the book Malaysia-Singapore Fifty Years of Contentions 1965-2015 by Tan Sri Ab Kadir Mohamad here yesterday.
Tun Abdullah acknowledged that it was natural for neighbours to have bilateral issues and disputes.
"But Malaysia and Singapore are not normal neighbours in a sense.
"They were once a united polity that came apart as a result of incompatible ambitions," he said.
However, Mr Abdullah said, the future for the relationship between the two countries need not be the same as its past.
"When I was prime minister, I tried to remove some baggage. History will be the judge of what I tried to do," he added.
Mr Abdullah said bilateral relations were more than any sum of events, agreements or negotiations.
"They must be based on principles such as frankness and mutual respect, consistency and stability, reliability and predictability.
"We must think beyond short term advantage," he said.
Mr Ab Kadir, who was adviser for foreign affairs to Mr Abdullah, said his 345-page book was less analysis and more narrative.
"The narrative begins with an account of the difficult period when Singapore was part of Malaysia for two short years.
"These two difficult years were then followed by some 50 years of ups and downs," said the former secretary-general of the Foreign Ministry.
The book, priced at RM100 (S$37.70) each, is available at major bookstores.