Malaysian PM Muhyiddin's visit to Singapore postponed due to rise in Covid-19 cases

Plans for Malaysian Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin to visit Singapore and meet Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong have been postponed. PHOTO: MUHYIDDIN YASSIN/FACEBOOK

SINGAPORE - Plans for Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin to visit Singapore and meet Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong have been postponed because of the escalating Covid-19 situation in both countries.

Announcing this on Sunday (May 2), Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan and his Malaysian counterpart, Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein, said the meeting between the two leaders, which was planned for Monday, was intended to revolve around the gradual resumption of cross-border travel.

The current situation in both countries, however, does not provide the "right environment" to discuss this, they noted.

Singapore has tightened measures due to a spike in cases in the community and the emergence of new clusters over the past week, while Malaysia has similarly announced it will review its Covid-19 protocols following a jump in cases over the past two weeks.

Said Mr Hishammuddin: "We have to stress that it is very challenging for both sides to come up with a concrete and safe solution (for) across border movements at the moment, and also to frame what we can announce to the public.

"So we both felt that it would be much more opportune for the two prime ministers to meet at a slightly later date, at a more appropriate time."

Dr Balakrishnan said he understood the need to postpone Tan Sri Muhyiddin's visit to Singapore.

"Given the very volatile nature of the Covid situation on both sides, it makes sense to focus primarily on the domestic control of the pandemic while Datuk Hishammuddin and myself continue to do our homework on the parameters for the schemes that can be announced later," he said.

Malaysian Minister of Foreign Affairs Dato' Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein (left) called on Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the Istana on May 2, 2021. PHOTO: MINISTRY OF COMMUNICATIONS AND INFORMATION, SINGAPORE

During Dr Balakrishnan's visit to Malaysia in March, Mr Muhyiddin said Singapore had sent a letter from PM Lee, inviting him to attend the 10th Malaysia-Singapore Annual Leaders' Retreat.

A joint statement from the two ministers on Sunday said they welcomed the resumption of in-person official exchanges between both sides.

"The two ministers agreed on the importance of convening the 10th Singapore-Malaysia Leaders' Retreat in Singapore later this year, once the pandemic situation improves," they said.

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