Malaysia-Singapore economic relationship is good: Minister Darell Leiking

Pipes carrying water from Malaysia to Singapore run alongside the causeway towards the Woodlands Checkpoint in Singapore, on July 20, 2018. PHOTO: REUTERS

SINGAPORE (BERNAMA) - Malaysia's International Trade and Industry Minister Darell Leiking has described the economic relationship between Malaysia and Singapore as good.

Mr Leiking noted that the 1962 Water Agreement and High Speed Rail (HSR) issues would unlikely affect the long-standing relationship.

Kuala Lumpur has in recent months talked about raising the price at which it supplies water to Singapore but has not made any formal request on the matter. Both countries are also discussing Malaysia's request to defer the Singapore-Kuala Lumpur HSR project that was inked in 2016 and originally slated for completion in 2026.

"The trust and closeness between us have always been there. Singapore is very aware Malaysia is going through a tough time. We have fiscal mismanagement," Mr Leiking told Bernama on the sidelines of the 50th Asean Economic Ministers (AEM) Meeting and Related Meetings in Singapore on Wednesday (Aug 29).

He noted that like China, Singapore knew that "we are going to redo and revamp our fiscal management".

"After all, how could we carry on some projects that will burden our nation?" he asked.

On Tuesday, Mr Leiking had met his Singaporean counterpart Chan Chun Sing.

He said that Mr Chan had expressed hope for the new Malaysian government to continue working closely with Singapore.

"We will be able to resolve any small problems that we have, if any. We never look at the problems. We are looking at solutions," he stressed.

Mr Leiking is currently leading the Malaysian delegation to the AEM Meeting and Related Meetings here for five days until September 1.

In conjunction with the meeting, the minister will also undertake a working visit to the republic.

During the working visit, a packed programme has been set for him, including a series of discussions and networking sessions with economists, potential investors, local and foreign business chambers, Malaysian diaspora and companies.

"We have met business councils and chambers who have given assurance that they will continue to invest in Malaysia and they will add more investments in Malaysia.

"On our part, we have assured them that we will try our best to overcome any obstacle that they are facing, and help them to reduce bureaucracy, if any," he said.

Mr Leiking said he believed that the foreign investors fraternity was starting to see that the new Pakatan Harapan government was seriously reviving and rebuilding the country.

"We want to do away with the mistrust and distrust that they had over the years," he said, adding the new Malaysia's efforts, led by Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, had started bearing fruits with rising confidence from the fraternity.

Mr Leiking said that some policies at his first AEM Meeting would be relooked at if they were against the aspirations of the current administration.

"Bottom line, the policies must be people-oriented and Malaysia's sovereignty must be protected," he said, adding, "we are not negotiating the sovereignty of Malaysia".

"Though some may say it is a backtrack (on) policy. For us, it is never a backtrack if it is for the interest of the people," he said.

Mr Leiking noted that this would include reviewing what had been agreed by the previous Barisan Nasional government in the ongoing negotiations of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).

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