05/12/2023 11:59 AM

By Massita Ahmad

SINGAPORE, Dec 5 (Bernama) -- “I have always found him to be erudite, gracious, and genuinely concerned for the well-being of Malaysians,” says Singapore High Commissioner to Malaysia Vanu Gopala Menon.

These are Menon's observations from his interactions with Malaysia’s Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim whose Madani Government will be celebrating its first year at the end of this week. Anwar was sworn in as Malaysia’s 10th prime minister on Nov 24, 2022.

Menon who assumed his post as the High Commissioner to Malaysia on Nov 10, 2014, said Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Anwar have known each other for decades.

“Prime Minister Lee was one of the first few leaders to congratulate Anwar when he was sworn in as prime minister,” said the senior diplomat.

He added that Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong during a visit to Malaysia in September 2022 had met with Anwar who was the opposition leader then.

Given the close and interdependent relations, the high commissioner said Singapore welcomes “a Malaysia that is stable and forward-looking”. 

“We were each other’s second-largest trading partner last year, and our economic links continue to grow. Singapore was Malaysia’s top foreign investor in the first half of 2023,” he said.

The Unity Government led by Anwar has helped bring political stability and bring the country forward. 

Malaysian Investment Development Authority (MIDA) in its update in September said that Singapore is the leading source of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI)  with approved investments totalling RM13.7 billion in the first half of 2023.

“I believe that there is much that we can achieve if we work together to advance areas of mutual cooperation,” said Menon pointing to the 10th Singapore-Malaysia Leaders’ Retreat held on Oct 30, 2023, as a good example.

“It was the first Retreat since the COVID-19 pandemic, and both Prime Ministers were able to discuss several promising areas of cooperation such as the Johor – Singapore Special Economic Zone (SEZ) and the Johor Bahru-Singapore Rapid Transit System as well as explore future-oriented cooperation, including by leveraging on the Memoranda of Understanding on the digital and green economies that were signed in January this year.

“Both Prime Ministers also had good discussions on other outstanding bilateral issues. I hope that both sides will be able to make progress over the next year.

“My best wishes to Datuk Seri Anwar and the Madani government,” said Menon.

Meanwhile, Malaysia’s High Commissioner to Singapore Datuk Dr Azfar Mohamad Mustafar said the Singapore government has been following closely on the developments in Malaysia.

Sharing similar views with Menon, Azfar stated that the current focus is on enhancing economic and trade activities between the two countries and one of the ongoing projects is the establishment of the SEZ.

The idea of establishing an SEZ was initiated during Anwar's administration.

"Furthermore, Malaysia's potential in supplying renewable energy, including hydroelectric power from Sarawak, is also being explored by industry players in Singapore," he said.

When asked about the Singaporean government's view on Anwar and his leadership both domestically and internationally, Azfar stated that, in general, they are aware that the prime minister is influential both domestically and internationally.


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