In this excerpt from the book, A Doctor In The House, The Memoirs Of Tun Mahathir Mohamad, the former Malaysian prime minister recounts his problems with Singapore
One area of Malaysian foreign policy that has always been challenging has been our relationship with Singapore. I may be wrong, but I suspect that Lee Kuan Yew once nursed the thought of becoming prime minister of this country.
At that time, Singapore was too small a stage for his great talent. If Singapore and its overwhelmingly Chinese population were to become a permanent part of democratic Malaysia, he stood a good chance of winning majority support and being elected prime minister. Events have shown that the Malays can be deeply divided against themselves, so that their being in the majority poses no problem towards their being ruled by others.
But the Tunku (Abdul Rahman) frustrated Lee and his hopes, when he confined the activities of the People's Action Party (PAP) to only Singapore, and virtually turned it into an opposition party. In defiance, the PAP contested against MCA (Malaysian Chinese Association) candidates in the 1964 General Election - but it did poorly, winning only one seat. That put paid to Lee's hopes of displacing the MCA as Umno's chief partner in the governing alliance.
The show of defiance convinced the Tunku that there could be no understanding with the PAP, and he consequently expelled Singapore in 1965. Once Singapore became an independent country, the relationship between the two nations required considerable re-thinking.
Enforced separation meant the end of Lee's dream. He cried when announcing it on television and never forgave the Tunku. He also remained unforgiving of Syed Jaafar Hassan Albar (secretary-general of Umno during the early 1960s) for the Sino-Malay clashes in Singapore that made separation necessary, and of me whom he labelled a Malay ultra. He did not attribute the expulsion to his own behaviours and obvious ambition, choosing instead to believe firmly that we were responsible for the Tunku's action.
[It is interesting to read Dr M's perspective of separation. Note though that he assumes the reason why LKY cannot or must not be PM is obvious and understood. That assumption is never questioned by Dr M, but taken as an absolute. As for Syed Jaafar Hassan Albar (wasn't he the villain in Disney's "Aladdin"? Some names are just villainous.)]
When he made the decision to part ways, the Tunku must have finally realised that with Singapore included in Malaysia, the Chinese would become the overall majority, capable of winning sufficient seats to form the government.
I had clashed with Lee many times when we were Members of Parliament in the 1964 and 1965 parliamentary sessions. I did not like his endless preaching about what Malaysia should do or should be like. Bitter over the painful separation, he called Malays 'the jungle Arabs' - likening them to the desert Arabs of whom he seemed to have a low opinion. I doubt he would disparage the Arabs today as Singapore is now far more active than Malaysia in wooing investors from the Middle East - and being the model, as well as their advisers, for development.
[As opposed to Dr M's preaching about what Malaysia should do or should be like?]
Despite our past clashes, I was determined to have friendly relations with Singapore when I became prime minister. It should not have been difficult since many of our leaders had studied together in the same schools, colleges and universities. Yet, solving the serious problems we had with them over the years proved to be easier said than done.
The oldest of these problems had to do with water. In 1960 and 1961, before Singapore joined Malaysia, we signed an agreement where the Peninsula would supply 350 million gallons daily (mgd) of raw water at three sen per 1,000 gallons. Under the same agreement, Singapore would sell treated water to Johor, not exceeding 12 per cent of the raw water Singapore bought. The agreed price of the treated water was 50 sen per 1,000 gallons, although the cost of treating the water would probably have been in the region of RM1.20 per 1,000 gallons.
This meant that the price Malaysia had to pay Singapore if it took the maximum of 12 per cent would far exceed what Singapore would pay Malaysia for raw water. The amount paid for raw water daily by Singapore is RM10,500, while Malaysia pays RM21,000 a day for treated water. This means that Malaysia earns zero while Singapore gets RM10,500 per day after paying for raw water.
[Love his logic. Singapore buys at 3 sen. spends RM1.20 to treat water. Sells to M'sia for 50 sen, and M'sia is the loser? Moreover, if I recall, M'sia actually drew more than the 12% maximum. If M'sia didn't like paying for the treated water, it didn't have to buy so much or even more than what is contracted. The fact is that M'sia then sells the water to their citizens at a further mark-up, thus making even more money from this deal.]
To add to this unreasonable equation, the prices could be changed only if both sides agreed to it. However, if Malaysia were to ask for an increase in the price of raw water, Singapore would surely respond by seeking a hike in the price of treated water. We were caught in a bind.
[And this is illogical and unreasonable, how? If Dr M has his way, Singapore would pay RM2.00 for raw water, treat it at RM1.20 and sell in back to M'sia for 80 sen (RM2.00 - RM 1.20 = RM 0.80. M'sians are very good at math. You can't cheat them.) After all the raw water is organic and full of natural goodness of the Johor River. After spending RM1.20 to remove all these natural goodness, the "empty" water would only be worth 80 sen.]
The two agreements would expire in 2011 and in 2061 respectively, but even before that, in 2001, Singapore wanted to negotiate a new water agreement for 100 years.
They wanted their 350 mgd of raw water at the same rate, under the same conditions as before, and they also wanted it to come from the Johor River, as they said it was cleaner.
The only way out was for Malaysia to cease buying treated water from Singapore before seeking an increase in the price of raw water. A sum of RM700 million was accordingly allocated to Johor to build and operate a water treatment plant to supply the needs of the state. The plant was completed after I stepped down.
I expected the Malaysian government to seek a review of the price of raw water to Singapore without being worried about an increase in the price of treated water. At 30 cents per mgd, Johor could earn as much as RM105,000 per day or RM38,325,000 per year.
Meanwhile, Singapore was making huge profits from selling the Malaysian water it treated both to Singaporeans and to ships. Released from any obligation to sell treated water at a subsidised price to Johor, Singapore could sell more water and earn larger profits. For our part, we did not want to deprive Singaporeans of water, but we felt that the island state should pay a fairer price for the raw water.
[The water flows into the sea. How much does the sea pay you for your water? In any case, now Dr M low balls the proposed increase to just 30 sen. At the time, the the talk was 45 sen and 60 sen. Rising at one point to a proposal for RM6.25 (2002) and even as high as RM8.Extracted from statement by Minister Foreign Affairs, S Jayakumar 25 Jan 2003:
"If Malaysia can unilaterally revise the price of raw water from 3 sen to 60 sen, and then from 60 sen to RM 3 then they can eventually fix it at RM 8 which Malaysia has said is the price since that is what Hong Kong pays to China, or any other price."The real reason for the water issue was probably the wafer fabrication plants.From statement by Minister Foreign Affairs:
Second, I will give a full chronology of the talks on water. This will show that Singapore has been consistent and forthcoming in the negotiations. The difficulties arose because Malaysia repeatedly changed its position, and shifted their goal posts each time we neared an agreement. No sooner had we agreed to a price for water when they changed their minds and upped the price. After the two countries had discussed all the issues as one package for several years at Malaysia’s request, Malaysia unilaterally and without prior notice abandoned the package approach, saying that they only wanted to discuss the current price of water.M'sia realised that wafer fab required a lot of extra clean water (the kind we get from NEWater). The problem was not that Sg did not want to pay a fairer price for water. Rather, the problem was that we are no-nonsense, get-down-to-brass-tacks, negotiate-in-good-faith, let's-look-for-a-win-win option. SM Lee negotiated with Dr M and in Aug 2000 they agreed on a new price of 45 sen for current and future water (based on 50% premium over the interstate water charged (30 sen to Malacca) beyond 2061.
DR M probably went back, told his people, "Yes! I got him to pay 45 sen!" Then got assaulted with concerns that perhaps 45 sen was too low. It must be for LKY to agree so readily. In Feb Dr M replied to say, "um... I think 60 sen would be fairer, and we should review the price every 5 years."
How did he arrived at 60 sen? What happened between Aug 2000 and Feb 2001? Who changed the position and made negotiations more difficult?]
Under the new 100-year agreement that Singapore tried to negotiate, they wanted an additional 400 mgd of raw water. Malaysia was willing to provide it but only at the right price. However, since I stepped down, there has been no progress in the water agreement with Singapore - and we are still being paid three sen per 1,000 gallons. Ironically, Johor sells raw water to Malacca at 30 sen per 1,000 gallons.
["Since I stepped down..." thus implying that there was a lot of progress during your PM-ship?]
Why should Malaysia have to subsidise the Singapore Government? And it really is the Government that we are subsidising, not the people of Singapore who are paying $17 (well over RM40) for 1,000 gallons of treated water. Malaysia is paying heavily to remain on good terms with Singapore, but friends who have to be bought are not real friends.
[And if you can't hold your friends to ransom, who else can you exploit or hold ransom? Your enemies aren't going to be so stupid as to let you.
As Terry Pratchett notes: Lies would have run around the world before Truth can tie its shoelaces.
Just correcting Dr M's recall is tiring and tedious. I leave the rest perhap for a later day, or for good. I've wasted too much of my Sunday already.]
The next problem was our railway station at Tanjong Pagar, in the southern part of the island. The railway line runs though its centre and since there are no level crossings, Singapore road traffic is not affected. From colonial times, Malayan customs and immigration officers have operated from this station, that is, inside Singapore. This arrangement facilitates travel and has never been a problem. We would like to maintain the line and station, and to improve the service using modern electric trains.
But Singapore wants the land back. It is valuable, and presumably they have some new use for it in mind. Our agreement from the time of separation is that we could stay where we were so long as we ran trains into Singapore. But we agreed to renegotiate should Singapore want to develop the land.
In November 1990, Tun Daim Zainuddin, then the finance minister, and Lee signed a document known as the Points of Agreement (POA). The POA involved moving the Tanjong Pagar station to Bukit Timah, a point halfway between the Tanjong Pagar station and the Causeway. For giving up the southern portion of the line and Tanjong Pagar station, Singapore would compensate us with land of equal value at Shenton Way, near the city centre, for Malaysia to develop.
For reasons that are unclear, Tun Daim told me that Singapore subsequently claimed that the POA had been altered because a Malayan Railways official had said that the terminus for our railway would be at Johor Baru. How any statement by a railway official could alter an agreement between governments, I do not know. Normally, proper amendments would be made in writing and endorsed by both governments.
The status of the POA is now murky, with Singapore demanding that we move our Customs, Immigration and Quarantine (CIQ) facilities to Woodlands, which is near the Singapore end of the Causeway. Meanwhile, Singapore began to claim that the land to compensate Malaysia for Tanjong Pagar and the railway line was not to be developed by us alone, but jointly.
[Under M'sia law, it is Johor Bahru Station that is the gazetted M'sia CIQ. Woodlands was an interim solution requested by M'sia and accorded by Singapore.]
Repeated meetings between Malaysian and Singaporean officials have failed to resolve the impasse. What will happen to the railway link may now be caught up in a larger complication between Malaysia and Singapore, involving the new bridge which I had proposed. The Malaysian government under Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi had cancelled the project.
Another thorn in our bilateral relations was Pulau Batu Puteh, a rocky outcrop known on some maps as Pedra Branca ('white rock' in Portuguese). During the colonial period, the British built lighthouses on a number of islands along the peninsular coast. It did not mean that the British owned those islands or that Malay sovereignty over them was ceded or divided in any way.
On Pulau Batu Puteh, in the sea lane approaching Singapore from the east side of the Peninsula, the British set up a navigation facility in 1851 which they named the Horsburgh Light. Since the colonial government was based in Singapore, all these lighthouses were administered from the same office there. After the formation of the Malayan Union and Singapore's separation from Malaysia, these coastal lighthouses continued to be administered from Singapore.
In our view, Pulau Batu Puteh had always belonged to Johor. We had allowed Singapore to continue operating the lighthouse after independence, as we did with the lighthouse on Pulau Pisang on the west side of the Peninsula, which also belongs to Johor. But Singapore claimed that Pulau Batu Puteh belonged to them. They built a small fortress on it and would not allow Malaysian fishermen, who had fished there for centuries and become accustomed to seeking shelter from storms on the island, to go near it.
Once, when I approached the island on a Malaysian police boat, Singapore immediately sent two of its navy boats to intercept us. Not wanting to create an incident, I asked the police boat skipper to leave the area.
Singapore finally agreed to refer the claim to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for adjudication. On May 23, 2008, the Court delivered its long-delayed and much-awaited decision. By majority vote, it awarded Pulau Batu Puteh to Singapore.
[Like Singapore was dragging her feet?]
It did so on several grounds: First, that Malaysia could not produce the original letter stating the conditions under which the Sultan of Johor had agreed to the building of the Horsburgh Light in 1851. The letter was not in Johor's, or the national, archives, but may well be held in Singapore's collection of records of the colonial authority that operated from there, and perhaps also in the British national archives.
Second, that Singapore had been operating the lighthouse for long unbroken periods without objection by Malaysia.
And third, that in 1953 - before independence - the Sultanate of Johor, in a letter signed by the state secretary, had disavowed any claim to the island.
That the letter assuring the British authorities in Singapore of Johor's lack of desire to claim the island itself was signed by a temporary or acting state secretary may well indicate that the desired consent was extracted conveniently during the time when the state was under British rule. But courts and lawyers, who understand their books of rules but are less attuned to how the world works and how the subtleties of Malay meaning are communicated, seem not to have appreciated this point.
[Yes, it is the fault of people who don't understand Malays. We're just a bunch of racists. Poor you!]
Despite giving Pulau Batu Puteh to Singapore, the Court declared that the adjacent Middle Rocks outcrop - which were further away from Malaysia - were Malaysian. It would seem that the island given to Singapore is lying in Malaysian waters.
The Court may have thought that by giving something to each of the disputing parties, it was being fair. This was the commonly expressed view in the days following the issuing of the Court's judgment: Malaysia and Singapore would soon agree to have their technical experts meet to work out all the complicated questions of delineating boundaries, and the practical details of managing all activities in the area subject to the ICJ's decision. Malaysian Foreign Minister Rais Yatim thought and said so. Like it or not, he said, under the terms of the Court's judgment, all practical matters could now be amicably and cooperatively resolved.
It is nice to be so nice. But only those who trust others to be nice could have been surprised when Singapore unilaterally laid claim to all the territorial waters and the seabed resources of the entire surrounding area. This move pre-empted the work of the expert technical working groups which the Malaysian Foreign Minister was so looking forward to. It is hard to be a good, amicable and trusting neighbour to someone who is unable to concede that anyone else is entitled to anything.
[This is SG! You want to be entitled to something? Bid for the Certificate of Entitlement.]
Losing this little island was unfortunate. The decision to go to the ICJ was made while I was still prime minister, and we had opted for that route because we believed we had a stronger case than Singapore did.
There was also the problem of Singapore's use of Malaysian airspace. We had allowed Singapore air force planes to use our airspace above southern Johor for training. But when they sent a helicopter north of the designated area to rescue a pilot who had crashed there, without informing us first, we withdrew our permission.
["Ya! So what if it was an emergency, life-and-death situation. The fact was it was M'sian airspace. We could have just as efficiently buried the survivors!"]
After that, whenever we tried to resolve problems with Singapore, they demanded that we concede our airspace to them first before they would agree to anything. Malaysia has never sought to train its air force over Singapore, as surely such arrangements should be reciprocal. But during my time, I did not ask for it as I preferred that training be done in our respective airspace.
[So comical, Dr M! Tom Plate is right. You have a wicked sense of humour. Emphasis on wicked.]
At one stage, we had agreed that all our unresolved issues be settled together as a package. But because Singapore would never agree to a revision of the price of water, all other issues could not be resolved, making a package solution impossible.
[Dr M! Your nose is getting longer and longer!]
I wrote to the then prime minister Goh Chok Tong, that since that approach would not result in a settlement, we should revert to dealing with each issue separately. He agreed, saying he would instruct his officers to deal with the water problem first.
A fourth bilateral issue had to do with Malaysians who worked in Singapore and had to contribute to its Central Provident Fund (CPF). Singapore had refused to allow Malaysians living in the Peninsula to withdraw their CPF money when they stopped working in the island state. Strangely, they did not put the same restrictions on Malaysians from Sabah and Sarawak. To me, this was ridiculous. Sabah and Sarawak are both part of Malaysia, but Singapore seemed to regard us as separate states.
[When there was restricted passport, could sg-eans travel to East M'sia with the restricted passport?
I leave the MFA to debunk some of the lies. Reading Dr M lies just spoilt my Sunday.]
WATER ISSUE IS ABOUT SANCTITY OF AGREEMENTS, NOT ABOUT PRICE ALONE, SAYS SINGAPORE FOREIGN MINISTER PROF S JAYAKUMAR
1. Singapore Foreign Minister Prof S Jayakumar today (25 Jan 03) comprehensively rebutted Malaysian allegations on the water issue and other issues. He underscored that the issue goes well beyond the actual price of water supplied by Malaysia to Singapore.
2. He also refuted other allegations such as those concerning Malaysia's vacating of the naval base facilities in Woodlands, the signing of the Special Agreement on Pedra Branca, the ASEAN+3 Secretariat proposal and the East Asian Economic Caucus (EAEC).
Documents, Correspondence and Diplomatic Notes released to set out facts
3. Prof Jayakumar noted that all these allegations had the common objective of painting Singapore as "insensitive", "arrogant" and "unneighbourly" in the conduct of its bilateral relations with Malaysia.
4. But the most strident allegations by Malaysia were on the water issue, including claims that Singapore was "selfish", "profiteering", "legalistic" and "unreasonable". The water issue was the core problem underlying the endless, vitriolic barrage of Malaysian allegations. But the water issue was critical to Singapore's survival as a nation, and Singaporeans needed to know the facts and be able to judge for themselves. He released the exchanges of correspondences between the leaders of the two countries, as well as formal diplomatic exchanges concerning this issue.
5. He had to do so because "so much misinformation on the water issue has been put out by Malaysia that it now needs to be countered by conclusive evidence. These documents will clear the air for everyone." The documents, in two volumes, are now part of the official records of Parliament. The documents also include the texts of various Agreements.
The fundamental issue: Sanctity of Water Agreements and Separation Agreement
6. The fundamental issue was not the price of water, but how Singapore was made to pay for any revision. This cannot be done at the will or dictate of Malaysia. Said Prof Jayakumar: "The 1961 and 1962 Water Agreements are enshrined in the Separation Agreement and registered at the United Nations. They are fundamental to our very existence as an independent nation. Neither Singapore nor Malaysia can unilaterally change them. This is the root of the dispute between us."
7. Prof Jayakumar stated: "Let me be clear. It is not a matter of money…the significance of the water price, to both countries, is Singapore's existence as a sovereign nation separate from Malaysia, and the sanctity of the most solemn agreements which Singapore and Malaysia have entered into."
8. The issue goes well beyond whether Singapore has to pay 45 sen or 60 sen or stick to 3 sen. Singapore will not be impoverished by an increase of 3 to 45 sen per 1,000 gallons if Malaysia were to charge that. Neither would Malaysia be enriched significantly.
9. He stressed that the two Water Agreements are no ordinary agreements. They are so vital that they were confirmed and guaranteed by both Governments in the 1965 Separation Agreement, also known as the Independence of Singapore Agreement.
10. "This was registered at the United Nations. Both countries have to honour the terms of the agreements and the guarantee in the Separation Agreement. Any breach of the Water Agreements must call into question the Separation Agreement and can undermine our very existence."
Diplomatic Notes sent to Malaysia
11. Prof Jayakumar said in early 2002, various statements made by the Malaysian Government led to Singapore conveying its serious concerns to the Malaysian Government. A diplomatic note was sent. Singapore pointed out that "pending a binding agreement on the overall package of issues, all legal obligations of the existing Water Agreements and the POA remain in force and are binding on both Governments".
12. In the diplomatic note, Singapore also reminded Malaysia that the Water Agreements are binding legal arrangements duly confirmed and guaranteed by the Governments of Malaysia and Singapore in the Separation Agreement, and that the Agreement was "the fundamental basis of Singapore's existence as an independent sovereign nation", and that "any variation of the Water Agreements without the consent of both Governments will be a breach of the Separation Agreement that cannot be accepted".
13. Singapore also pointed out that "further negotiations on new agreements pertaining to the long term supply of water to Singapore can only proceed on the basis that the agreements already concluded cannot be altered without the explicit consent of both parties. Otherwise any new agreements on water can similarly be altered without consent. This will have grave implications for bilateral relations".
14. On 14 March 2002, the Malaysian Government replied that its "commitment to resolving the issue of water with Singapore in the context of an agreement on the overall package of issues", and that "at no time was there a suggestion that the Government of Malaysia would depart from such a commitment." It said that any suggestion to the contrary is "misleading and constitutes a gross misinterpretation of the well known position of the Malaysia Government."
15. Singapore, in a diplomatic note dated 25 March 2002, took note of this commitment and assurances by the Malaysian Government and reiterated Singapore's commitment to reach a mutually beneficial agreement on the package of outstanding issues.
16. Malaysian Foreign Minister Syed Hamid also reiterated in his opening statement at the First Ministerial Meeting on 1 July 2002 in Putrajaya that "Malaysia has repeatedly said that it will honour the 1961 and 1962 Water Agreements until their expiry in 2011 and 2061 respectively".
Facts on Package show Singapore was not the unreasonable party
17. Prof Jayakumar gave a full chronology to show that difficulties arose because Malaysia repeatedly changed its position, and shifted their goal posts each time both sides neared an agreement. Singapore had persevered, accommodating as much as possible, and never closed the door on negotiations to reach a mutually beneficial agreement.
18. Prof Jayakumar strongly refuted allegations that Singapore had been the unreasonable party. The package of items under negotiations covered the future supply of water to Singapore for 100 years after 2061; use of Malaysian airspace by RSAF; variations in the terms of the Points of Agreement, by giving additional 12 parcels of land at Bukit Timah for joint development; early return of CPF monies amounting to RM 3 billion to West Malaysians and, later, the Malaysian proposal to replace the Causeway with a bridge and a revision of the current water price.
19. Singapore was prepared to agree to the items which Malaysia wanted, including a current water price revision, in exchange for Malaysia agreeing to provide Singapore with a long-term supply of water beyond 2061, and RSAF use of Malaysian airspace. "These concessions to Malaysia would have been at a considerable cost to us. They had to be seen in the context of the overall package deal being negotiated," he said.
20. When negotiations on the package deal did not make much progress, Malaysia suddenly and unilaterally discontinued the package approach. Singapore was even prepared to go along with the Malaysian proposal to decouple water supply from the other items but Malaysia refused to discuss future water supply until 2059, a mere two years before the expiry of the 1962 Water Agreement. It was therefore clear that Malaysia had no intention of striking a deal on future water.
How do we go forward?
21. Malaysian leaders spoke about referring the water issue to international arbitration by the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA). Later, Foreign Minister Syed Hamid reportedly said the option of referring the water issue to PCA for arbitration did not arise. This back-tracking was despite statements by PM Mahathir and FM Syed Hamid on two different dates that it should be referred to the PCA.
22. To overcome the impasse, Singapore is prepared to have recourse to arbitration in accordance with the provisions of the Water Agreements. The provisions in Clauses 21 and 19 of the 1961 and 1962 Water Agreements respectively provide for the settlement of disputes arising under the Agreements. Those provisions stipulate that where disputes cannot be resolved, the matter shall be referred to arbitration "in accordance with and subject to the provisions of the arbitration law at the time of such dispute existing in the State of Johore".
23. Indeed, the Johor State Secretary sent letters of 14 August 2002 seeking to give Notice of price review in accordance with Clause 17 and Clause 14 of the 1961 and 1962 Water Agreements respectively to the PUB. As Singapore's position was that Malaysia had lost its right of review, the PUB replied on 9 October 2002 that it did not accept that the Johor State Government was still entitled to serve notice to seek a review of the charge of raw water under the two water Agreements.
24. The question of whether there was still a right of review, as well as the quantum of the price revision, can be resolved through legal process as provided for in the two Water Agreements.
25. "This is like the way we are resolving Malaysia's claim over Pedra Branca. Both sides will be bound by the decision of the arbitrators. If in fact Johor has not lost its right to revision by not exercising it in 1986/87, then the arbitrators' award on the price revision will take effect from the date when Johor gave its Notice to PUB as provided for in the two Agreements," said Prof Jayakumar.
Loose talk of war was irresponsible and dangerous
26. Prof Jayakumar said he was concerned about loose talk of war. "Loose talk of war is irresponsible and dangerous. It whips up emotions that could become difficult to control. In such an atmosphere, the Malaysian air force, navy and marine police vessels have continued to make repeated intrusions into Singapore airspace and territorial waters off Pedra Branca. Such provocative actions are not only senseless but dangerous. Senseless because both sides have agreed to refer the dispute to the International Court of Justice and such actions cannot affect the decision of the ICJ…The Malaysian Government would have to bear responsibility for the consequences."
27. Prime Minister Mahathir had said Malaysia would respect international law on territorial disputes and avoid a confrontation with Singapore on Pedra Branca. This is also Singapore's position.
28. Prof Jayakumar said it was Singapore's intention to have good, not strained, relations with Malaysia. "There is much that both countries can gain by working together. Our common interests far exceed our bilateral differences. We must ensure a firm and level basis for conducting state-to-state relations," he said.
. . . . .
MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS
25 JANUARY 2003
See also: "Water Talks? If only it could"