PM Lawrence Wong at the Joint Press Conference with Malaysian PM Dato' Seri Anwar Ibrahim (Jun 2024)

Transcript of the opening remarks by Prime Minister and Minister for Finance Lawrence Wong at the joint press conference with Prime Minister of Malaysia Dato' Seri Anwar Ibrahim in Kuala Lumpur on 12 June 2024. PM Wong was in Malaysia as part of a series of introductory visits to Southeast Asian capitals.


Prime Minister Dato’ Seri Anwar Ibrahim, thank you very much for those kind words and warm remarks. Thank you also for the gracious hospitality to me and my delegation in my introductory visit to Malaysia.

PM Anwar called me the morning after I was sworn in as Prime Minister – he was the first foreign leader to do so. In that phone conversation, he invited me to make an early introductory visit to Malaysia, and I readily agreed.

Both PM Anwar and I have met on previous occasions so we are familiar with each other, but I thought it was important for me to come in early to establish a good working rapport and relationship. I think we have done so today over a lovely meal and durians for dessert. I am sure we will be able to work effectively together to take our bilateral ties forward. There will be continuity in terms of our overarching strategic approach in engaging one another, but also opportunities for new ideas to deepen our ties further, ideas like the ones we discussed over lunch.

I told PM Anwar that Singapore deeply values our strong and close bilateral relation; and that we will continue to pursue win-win cooperation with Malaysia. Our two countries already cooperate substantively across almost every sector – health, education, culture, trade and investments, connectivity and also in emerging areas like the digital economy and renewable energy.

There are promising projects which we are pursuing together. In particular, I look forward to the Johor-Singapore Special Economic Zone and the Johor Bahru-Singapore Rapid Transit System Link. Both will increase the cross-border flow of people, goods, and investments and will bring our two countries closer together, and ultimately benefit both Malaysians and Singaporeans.

We all know that we are entering a world that is becoming more dangerous, more unpredictable, more troubled. And in this new environment, our two countries must redouble efforts to work closely together and work in a pragmatic fashion for positive outcomes for both sides.

In fact, we are more similar than we are different. We are two countries with enduring ties of culture, kinship and history. We are both committed to forging more inclusive societies based on good governance and social harmony.

While issues may arise from time to time, as is bound to happen between close friends and neighbours, PM Anwar and I are committed to tackling them constructively while keeping our overall relationship positive and forward-looking.

In this regard, we had some very candid and productive discussions on our outstanding bilateral issues such as airspace, water, and maritime delimitation. The discussions are ongoing. PM Anwar and I agreed that we would continue to provide the strategic direction for our officials to make progress on their discussions and then eventually come together to take stock at the coming Leaders’ Retreat. While the issues are complex and may take some time to resolve, we are fully committed to managing them in a way that will enable our overall bilateral relationship to continue to flourish.

Next year, Malaysia will assume the Chairmanship of ASEAN. Singapore is confident that under Malaysia and PM Anwar’s leadership, ASEAN will develop further as a stronger and more integrated community, and will deepen our relations with our external Dialogue partners.

Once again, let me thank my dear friend PM Anwar for inviting me to make an early visit to Malaysia, and for his strong support for our bilateral relations.

I very much look forward to returning to Malaysia later this year for our Leaders’ Retreat, and to continue working closely with PM Anwar and his team to take our relations to even greater heights.

Thank you very much. Terima kasih.

Foreign affairs