Speech by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the opening ceremony of Agro-Bazaar, on 27 August 2014

27 August 2014

Dato’ Sri Haji Mohd Najib bin Tun Haji Abdul Razak
Prime Minister of Malaysia

Datin Paduka Seri Rosmah Mansor

Honourable Ministers and Menteri Besars

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen

        May I welcome all the Malaysian visitors here to Singapore for the launch of the Agro-Bazaar!  I am very, very happy that you have chosen Singapore to launch the first overseas branch of this unique Malaysian initiative.

        May I first take a moment to acknowledge Malaysia’s day of national mourning last week for the passengers and crew of MH17.  Our deepest condolences go to the families and loved ones of the victims, and Singaporeans stand with the people of Malaysia in their moment of sorrow.

        I would also like to thank Prime Minister Najib for inviting me to join today’s opening ceremony of the Agro-Bazaar.  We had a Retreat in Putrajaya in April, and Prime Minister Najib told me he intended to establish the Agro-Bazaar’s first overseas branch in Singapore.  I immediately welcomed this unique project, because it mutually benefits our people.  For Malaysia, it’s a marketplace for Malaysian producers to introduce their fruit and products to the overseas market.  And for Singaporeans, we now have a huge variety of delicious Malaysian fruit available in one convenient, central location.  We have rambutan, we have cempedak, we have nanka.  You can see some of it front of you.  And of course, we have the famous Musang King durian – I think there are a few in front of me, down here.  And there are also new varieties of fruit that are native to specific States in Malaysia, like the duku from Terengganu, the cempedak durian from Perak – I am not sure what that is; I think it’s a durian, not cempedak, and the king guava from Batu Pahat, which will now be readily available in Singapore.

        While food is very important to both Malaysians and Singaporeans, I think the Agro-Bazaar is about something more than food.  It reflects our close economic ties, our shared culture and our long friendship.  And it shows that if we work together, there is much benefit to both parties.

So we look forward to further deepening interactions between our peoples in the coming years.  For example, we are building the Rapid Transit System (RTS) link between Johor Bahru and Singapore and also the High Speed Rail between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore.  These projects, when completed, will improve the flow of goods and of people across borders and draw us closer together.  It will create opportunities for our peoples to mingle and to understand each other’s cultures and heritages better.

        With such close interactions between our two countries, we must expect issues to arise from time to time.  But I believe if we keep lines of communication open, not just between the Leaders, but also between the Ministers and the senior officials and their counterparts, then we can manage anything which comes along.  And this is the way to maintain and enhance mutual understanding, trust and respect, and continue to make progress on existing as well as new areas of cooperation.

        We can imagine the friendship between Singapore and Malaysia to be like a flowering fruit tree. We have to continue to nurture it, to tend it, and if we do so, along the way success will blossom and blossom again.  Sometimes, we will be able to enjoy the low hanging fruit, or even wait for the durians to fall, but sometimes we have to work harder to climb the tree and pluck the coconuts from the top!  

        This Agro-Bazaar is one example of what we harvest as we move our ties ahead.  I wish it every success, and I hope everyone will enjoy a pleasant evening over good fruits and good company, and come back and visit it many, many more times in future!  Thank you very much.

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