PM Lee Hsien Loong at the Official Lunch in Honour of Malaysia PM Dato' Seri Anwar Ibrahim (Jan 2023)

SM Lee Hsien Loong | 30 January 2023

Toast speech by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the official lunch in honour of Dato' Seri Anwar Ibrahim, Prime Minister of Malaysia on 30 January 2023.


Your Excellency Dato’ Seri Anwar Ibrahim, Prime Minister of Malaysia

Dr Wan Azizah

Distinguished guests

Ladies and gentlemen

It is my great pleasure to welcome Prime Minister Anwar on his first official visit to Singapore since taking office as Malaysia’s 10th Prime Minister. Of course, the Prime Minister is no stranger to Singapore – he has worked with many of us for the better part of three decades.

Indeed, the Prime Minister and I go a long way back. We first met when we were Ministers, and we have stayed in touch ever since. I last met him when he visited Singapore in 2018. He came for the Singapore Summit, where his speech was warmly received. He told the Summit that if and when he assumed the premiership, Singapore would be one of the first countries he visited. And I am therefore very glad that today, Ho Ching and I are able to welcome Prime Minister Anwar and Dato’ Seri Dr Wan Azizah to Singapore.

Our two countries share a relationship quite unlike any other. They are bound by geography and our shared history. Our peoples have deep family and cultural ties. The Causeway and the Second Link are among the busiest border crossing points in the world.

Over the years, our two governments have deepened our cooperation in almost every domain. We work together in health, education, culture, supply chain, connectivity, and many other areas. On trade, we are each other’s second largest trading partners. Singapore is the largest foreign investor in Malaysia, with over S$56 billion in direct investments. This reflects our confidence in the Malaysian economy, including the ‘can-do’ spirit and enterprise of many young and digitally savvy Malaysians.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Singapore-Malaysia partnership stood up to the test. Our Ministers and officials kept in close touch to exchange notes, support each other, and coordinate plans. Even as supply chains all across the world were disrupted, people and goods continued to flow safely and smoothly between Malaysia and Singapore.

And I am glad that our borders are now fully reopened. Friends and families on both sides of the Causeway can visit each other freely. Businesses can plan and operate more predictably. And when the Johor Bahru Singapore Rapid Transit System (RTS) Link is completed in 2026, travel between our two countries will become even easier.

I am happy that our two sides continue to work closely to advance bilateral relations for mutual benefit. Prime Minister Anwar and I had a fruitful discussion earlier, including on how we can make progress on outstanding bilateral issues. We also witnessed the signing of three MOUs which will promote cooperation in new and emerging areas, specifically on the digital economy and green economy, and cyber security.

As close friends and neighbours, the destinies of Singapore and Malaysia are intertwined. When we work constructively together, we produce win-win outcomes with tangible benefits for our peoples and businesses. I am confident that with Prime Minister Anwar’s support, Singapore-Malaysia relations can reach greater heights.

Let me once again thank the Prime Minister, Dr Wan Azizah, and the Malaysian delegation for visiting Singapore. I look forward to meeting the Prime Minister again soon, including welcoming him back into Singapore later this year for our annual Leaders’ Retreat.

Distinguished guests

Ladies and gentlemen

May I now invite you to join me in a toast: To the good health and success of Prime Minister Dato’ Seri Anwar Ibrahim; to the continued peace and prosperity of Malaysia; and to the enduring friendship and cooperation between Singapore and Malaysia.


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Foreign affairs