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Malaysia, Singapore 'can prosper together'

posted 2 Oct 2011, 17:45 by Straits View

3 Oct 2011 Straits Times

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia's Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin yesterday said that his country seeks to cooperate and prosper together with Singapore, so as to tap on Asia's economic boom.

This task requires highly skilled public servants, he added, which both countries can share expertise on developing.

'If we help our neighbours to prosper, we will prosper along with them,' he said.

He also called on Malaysia and Singapore to continue building on their 'special relationship', by 'seeking common ground and putting aside differences'.

Tan Sri Muhyiddin's call was made in a speech to top civil servants from both countries as they met under an informal programme gathering government officials from both sides of the Causeway.

Titled 'Malaysia-Singapore: The Way Forward', his was the keynote address made at the end of the three-day event, which was organised by Malaysia's National Institute of Public Administration.

The event was the third in a series called the Joint Seminar for Public Sector Leaders for Malaysia and Singapore, which was last held in Singapore in 2009.

Singapore's 15-member delegation this year was led by Mr Peter Ong, head of the Singapore Civil Service. Comprising permanent secretaries, deputy secretaries and senior civil servants, they arrived in Kuala Lumpur on Friday and returned last night.

Malaysia was represented by 17 senior civil servants, led by Chief Secretary to the Malaysian government Sidek Hassan.

The two sides are meeting as bilateral ties between Singapore and Malaysia are at what some have described as a 'high'.

Closer engagement in the last two years has resolved a 20-year impasse over Malayan Railway land, while a strong message of economic partnership was sent out in agreements to have the investment arms of both governments jointly develop large parcels of land in Ophir-Rochor and Marina South in Singapore, as well as in the Iskandar Malaysia development corridor in Johor.

In a speech on Saturday, Mr Ong had also observed how the two countries' economies were strongly intertwined and interdependent. Citizens from both sides, he said, 'live, travel, work and play almost seamlessly across our borders'.

And as part of a booming Asia, he added, Singapore and Malaysia were well placed to ride on the region's growth.

'This gives us opportunities to grow our economies, strengthen our social fabric and meet the aspirations of the people,' he said.

Both Mr Ong and Mr Muhyiddin also spoke on the role of the public service in ensuring growth. Mr Ong said civil servants have to help their countries navigate the uncertainties of the global economy, while Mr Muhyiddin said they play an important part in making sure that policies stay 'on the right track'.

Mr Muhyiddin also urged civil servants from both sides to share their expertise, to make full use of what he called a 'strong mutual partnership'.

'I strongly believe that by having regular seminars like this, we can help each other by sharing our similarities, and comparing our differences for good intentions,' he said.

'Friendship and cooperation are the bridge to lasting peace and prosperity,' he added. 'Let us work together for more harmonious Malaysia-Singapore ties.'

Over the weekend, the civil servants from both sides also met on the golf links for a friendly game at the 34th Malaysia-Singapore Public Service Games.