Malaysian International Trade and Industry Minister Darell Leiking described the economic relationship between Malaysia and Singapore as “good”.
Darell noted that the 1962 Water Agreement and High-Speed Rail issues are unlikely to affect the long-standing relationship.
“The trust and closeness between us have always been there.
“Singapore is very aware Malaysia is going through a tough time. We have fiscal mismanagement,” he told Bernama on the sidelines of the 50th Asean Economic Ministers’ (AEM) Meeting and Related Meetings in Singapore today.
He noted that like China, Singapore knew that "we are going to redo and revamp our fiscal management".
“After all, how could we carry on some projects that will burden our nation?”
On Tuesday, Darell had met his Singaporean counterpart Chan Chun Sing.
Darell said that Chan (photo) had expressed hope for the new Malaysian government to continue working closely with Singapore.
“We will be able to resolve any small problems that we have, if any.
“We never look at the problems. We are looking at solutions,” he stressed.
Darell is currently leading the Malaysian delegation at the AEM Meeting and Related Meetings for five days until Sept 1.
In conjunction with the meetings, the minister, who repeatedly expressed concerns that he has to skip his weekly cabinet meeting, will also undertake a working visit to the republic.
During the working visit, a packed programme has been set for him, including a series of discussion and networking session with economists, potential investors, local and foreign business chambers, Malaysian diaspora and companies.
“We have met business council and chambers who have given assurance that they will continue to invest in Malaysia…they will add more investments in Malaysia.
“On our part, we have assured them that we will try our best to overcome any obstacle that they are facing, and help them to reduce bureaucracy if any,” he said.
Darell believed that the foreign investors’ fraternity was starting to see that the new government was seriously “reviving and rebuilding” the country.
“We want to do away with the mistrust and distrust that they had over the years,” he said, adding that the new Malaysia’s effort led by Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad had started bearing fruits with rising confidence from the fraternity.
Touching on the inaugural AEM Meeting and Related Meetings for him, Darell said that there would be some policies which would be relooked at if they were against the aspirations of the current administration.
“Bottom line, the policies must be people-oriented and Malaysia’s sovereignty must be protected,” he said, adding “we are not negotiating the sovereignty of Malaysia.”
“Though some may say it is a backtrack (on) policy. For us, it is never a backtrack if it is for the interest of the people,” he said.
Darell noted that it would include what had been agreed by the previous government in the ongoing negotiations of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.
The minister assumed office on July 2 under the Pakatan Harapan government which won the 14th general election in May, ending the 60-year ruling government under Barisan Nasional.