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S'pore, Malaysia can gain much with collaboration

It is gratifying to read that Malaysia has now decided to postpone the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High-Speed Rail link instead of scrapping it, especially when both countries have incurred millions kick-starting the project (HSR postponed, not scrapped, says Mahathir; June 13).

Nevertheless, it will still have to sort out the financial implications of the postponement, including possible compensation to all its counterparties, including Singapore. The Singapore Government is accountable to all its people, especially with regard to the state's coffers, no different from its partner across the Causeway.

If there is one thing that stood out from the recent Malaysian general elections, other than the fall of the Barisan Nasional alliance, it is that many Malaysians want a country that is governed by the rule of law, and a fair and meritocratic society regardless of race or religion in the truest rendition of "One Malaysia" and "Malaysia Boleh" (Malaysia Can), in the foreseeable future. This aspiration sounds familiar to Singaporeans. If only all our pioneer leaders were alive to witness this growing convergence of values between two close neighbours, as well as the lifting of a heavy historical baggage in their relations.

Given our shared heritage, there is much that Singapore and Malaysia can accomplish with greater collaboration. The socio-economic potential of this "common destiny" is best driven by visionary leaders with a dynamic grasp of our rich common past and future, and a healthy respect for the distinctiveness of each other's national identity and sovereignty.

Toh Cheng Seong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on June 17, 2018, with the headline 'S'pore, Malaysia can gain much with collaboration'. Print Edition | Subscribe