Toast Speech by PM Lee Hsien Loong at the Official Lunch in honour of Sultan of Johor HM Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar (July 2022)

SM Lee Hsien Loong | 20 July 2022

Toast Speech by PM Lee Hsien Loong at the Official Lunch in honour of His Majesty Sultan Ibrahim Ibni Almarhum Sultan Iskandar, Sultan of Johor on 20 July 2022.


Your Majesties, Sultan Ibrahim and Raja Zarith
Distinguished guests
Ladies and gentlemen

I bid a very warm welcome to the Sultan, his family, and his delegation. Tuanku is an old friend of Singapore. This is his first Official Visit to Singapore as Sultan of Johor, but it is most certainly not his first time here. Tuanku and I have met many times over the years, both here and in Johor. Many of our Cabinet Ministers have also attended the Sultan’s Hari Raya Open Houses in Johor.

Just two months ago in May, Tuanku invited Ho Ching and me to visit Johor. We were deeply honoured to receive high Johor honours from the Sultan at the Istana Besar. Sultan and Her Majesty Raja Zarith Sofiah also hosted us to brunch. I got the message that he wants to know what I wanted to eat. So I decided to ask for nasi ulam. I am very grateful that the Sultan went to some considerable lengths to humour my request and serve us memorable nasi ulam for our brunch. We also had Laksa Johor, which is a popular dish amongst Johoreans. It is a slightly different style from the laksa that we have in Singapore, but equally enak. And if brunch was not enough, the Sultan also sent me afterwards, delicious otak-otak and otak buns which came specially from Muar! Terima kasih.

So I thank the Sultan and Her Majesty for their very warm reception in Johor and I am happy to have the opportunity today to reciprocate their gracious hospitality. Today, we have prepared some local fare widely enjoyed by both Singaporeans and Malaysians, including soto ayam and beef rendang. Just before lunch we also gifted the Sultan and his wife their own orchid, jointly named after them. These are small tokens of our appreciation for Your Majesties, and our longstanding ties.

Singapore and Johor are close neighbours and partners, linked by generations of friendship and kinship. As the key gateway between Singapore and Malaysia, Johor plays a crucial role in maintaining the close cooperation and connectivity between our two countries. This was especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic. With the Sultan’s support, we kept supply lines open across the land borders. We also worked closely with the Sultan Ibrahim Johor Foundation to donate vaccines and medical supplies to Johor.

Both Singapore and Johor have since moved decisively towards living with COVID-19. Cross-border travel has resumed. The Causeway is bustling once more. Family and friends are again visiting one another. Workers, business travellers, and tourists are also making trips across the border, boosting the recovery of Singapore and Johor’s economies.

Looking ahead, we are continuing to improve connectivity between Singapore and Johor. We recently commenced a new direct ferry service between Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal and Desaru Coast Ferry Terminal. Many Singaporeans are happy that Desaru’s beautiful beaches and memorable seafood places are now more conveniently accessible. I also look forward to the timely completion of the Johor Bahru-Singapore Rapid Transit System (RTS) Link project. When completed, it will ease congestion on the Causeway, facilitate business and tourism, and foster closer ties between our peoples. Glad that Sultan Ibrahim will be visiting the RTS Link Woodlands North terminus site tomorrow – the Singapore end of the RTS Link.

I look forward to working with Sultan Ibrahim to promote further cooperation between Singapore and Johor. I am confident that with his support, relations between Singapore and Johor will continue to strengthen and deepen.

Distinguished guests, Ladies and gentlemen, may I now invite you to join me in a toast: to the good health and success of Sultan Ibrahim and Raja Zarith, to the continued peace and prosperity of Johor, and to the enduring friendship between Singapore and Johor. Thank you.

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Foreign affairs