Saturday, May 19, 2007

A meeting in Langkawi

The Singapore and Malaysian Prime Minister had a 'informal' meeting at a retreat in Langkawi this week. Newspaper in Singapore are making a big deal out of this, but I do wonder; Don't they had meetings before?

Since Malaysia and Singapore separated four decades ago, there has been the occasional hiccup, but trade, investment and travel have never stopped. Okay, maybe this is the first meeting between Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong as both are pretty new, but meetings has happened before.

And no matter what people say, problems will come up again in the future. Here are the reasons:

1) We are close neighbours. With the amount of trade between the two countries, problem will come up sooner or later.

2) There are many outstanding issues (the new Causeway bridge, price of raw water etc) which are unsettled, and these will make years before an agreement can be made.

3) There is political reasons for the disagreements. Whenever life is bad in Malaysia, politicans there will blame Singapore for it. This will divert attention from them and cast blame on an out-of-the-country group. It's a political play that always work! (To be fair, Singaporean politicans do exactly the same thing.)

The reasons are many, and one meeting between the two leaders will not change much (if anything). But we are neighbours, why not work on issues that can be solved. Business, investments, tourism; these are issues that both countries have a stake in and agreement can be worked out on these. If money can be made, Singaporeans are very agreeable in anything.

Work on these! Let's try to settle issues which can be solved. The rest of the problems between the two countries are there and will always be there. And say what you will, but the leaders of Malaysia and Singapore are no fools. It is the smart political thing not to solve them.