Singapore, Malaysia should focus on economic relationship

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad recently told the South China Morning Post that he was "not anti-Singapore" but "pro-Malaysia".

It reminded me of the need for a long-term solution to Singapore-Malaysia relations.

There are two fundamental relationships between neighbouring countries - economic and political.

The political relationship is based on nationalism and sabre-rattling by politicians, and is often divisive and detrimental to the peace and prosperity of both countries.

Instead, I would like to stress the importance of the economic relationship, which requires cooperation and mutual trust for mutual benefit.

Politicians come and go. We must not allow this short-termism to dominate our thinking and neglect the long-term economic relationship.

I appeal to the younger generation in both countries to seriously consider the economic approach to Singapore-Malaysia relations, rather than be influenced by the political approach. To co-exist, we need cooperation and trust.

Don't be influenced by political and nationalistic propaganda. Leave historical baggage behind and work towards a long-term future.

There are almost limitless possibilities for economic growth in many areas, if not for the political obstacles. Think outside the box to foster a peaceful and prosperous future for both countries.

George Wong Seow Choon (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 14, 2019, with the headline 'Singapore, Malaysia should focus on economic relationship'. Print Edition | Subscribe