Debate on ministries' budgets

Singapore firms urged to consider impact of Malaysian uncertainties

Uncertainties in Malaysia will have an economic impact on Singapore, Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing said yesterday as he stressed the need for the Republic to continue to diversify and "take this issue very seriously that our economy is never held to ransom or dependent on a single source".

At the same time, events across the border will be felt by regional countries too because Malaysia is part of the wider Asean economy.

For this reason, his ministry has, in the course of the last few months, "encouraged our companies to seriously consider the impact of the Malaysians' political and economic trajectory", he said in Parliament during the debate on his ministry's budget.

Mr Chan was replying to the Workers' Party's Mr Low Thia Khiang (Aljunied GRC), who had asked whether there will be an impact on Singapore's economy if the ongoing bilateral dispute over airspace and port issues "remained unsolved".

Mr Chan stressed the need to always bear in mind that Malaysia is part of Asean.

"Our position is that we continue to look for win-win situations and win-win projects together with Malaysia because we always believe that a prosperous Malaysia that is doing well economically is good for Malaysia, (and) is good for the region," he said.

However, any disruption to the Malaysian economy will have a significant impact on Singapore, "which is why over the last few months, MTI has always encouraged our companies to seriously consider the impact of the Malaysians' political and economic trajectory'', he said.

Urging businesses to diversify their sources, their supply chains and their markets is also being done as it is in keeping with Singapore's wider strategy to ensure that "we will never be held ransom by dependence on one particular market... regardless of whether it is Malaysia or any (other) market''.

He stressed that Singapore businesses must regard seriously the risks of solely depending on Malaysia as a supplier.

Singapore companies have, in recent months, spoken about a possible disruption of supplies from Malaysia.

Last December, Malaysian Minister for Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Saifuddin Na-sution Ismail said his country was looking into limiting or stopping the export of eggs to ensure a sufficient supply for its domestic market.

In response, Singapore's Agri-Food and Veterinary Autho-rity said that plans are in place to get eggs from other sources, if needed.

Addressing the question raised by Mr Low, Mr Chan said: "You are right, Malaysia is our next-door neighbour, our closest neighbour.

"And because they are the closest neighbour, all the more we must make sure that we continue to diversify and take this issue very seriously that our economy is never held to ransom or dependent on a single source."

Ng Jun Sen

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 05, 2019, with the headline 'Singapore firms urged to consider impact of Malaysian uncertainties'. Print Edition | Subscribe