Malaysia and Singapore have worked together on many projects in the past, and the deal to defer the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High-Speed Rail project signals an intent and commitment on both sides to want to do so in future, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean said.
"It provides a good start point in which we can look to the future and see how we can develop more win-win cooperation," he added, noting it was significant that Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad himself and Deputy Prime Minister Wan Azizah Wan Ismail decided to witness the signing.
He was speaking to Singapore media after meeting a range of Malaysian leaders over two days, including Tun Dr Mahathir yesterday and Dr Wan Azizah on Tuesday.
"It is important that we continue to have close relations with our colleagues here in Malaysia so that we can further develop cooperative relations," he said. "Overall, the sentiment expressed is that we are certainly the closest neighbours of each other, and there are many things we are doing together."
Mr Teo said talks with Malaysian ministers showed both sides had challenges in common. "Many of the social, economic, infrastructure and environment issues are very similar. We can benefit from sharing our experiences with each other," he said.
Other Malaysian leaders Mr Teo met included Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng, Economic Affairs Minister Mohamed Azmin Ali, Communications and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh Deo, Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah, Transport Minister Anthony Loke, Works Minister Baru Bian, and Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Minister Yeo Bee Yin.
This week, Mr Teo will also travel to Kuching and Kota Kinabalu to meet the governors and chief ministers of both states. Singapore hopes to strengthen its economic and people-to-people ties with the two states in Borneo.
"We already have ongoing interactions with our friends from Sarawak and Sabah, and we should see whether we can find ways to strengthen them further," he said.
"There will be opportunities for that, and I wish to explore that together with the chief ministers of both Sarawak and Sabah, and their colleagues."
Mr Teo added that there are trade and people-to-people exchanges between Singapore and both states, and a good flow of tourism, with opportunities to develop this further.
He also said the trip was a good opportunity for younger members of his team to meet their colleagues, including new political office-holders in Malaysia, and find common ground and share experiences.