Singapore has had a busy and productive week especially in terms of reinforcing its bilateral relationships. Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong returned this week from a four day trip to Myanmar. The country is now under immense international scrutiny following the trial of Aung San Suu Kyi. Nevertheless, Mr Goh aimed to advise rather than pressure the Burmese government. Impressed by Senior General Than Shwe’s commitment to democracy, the Senior Minister noted that Myanmar was taking a “cautious but practical” approach toward it. He did however advise the General Thein Sein’s government that the way it conducted its trial of Aung San Suu Kyi would determine its relations with the new Obama administration. As a guest of General Thein Sein, the Burmese Prime Minister, he was shown the rich diversity and culture which exists within the nation. The Senior Minister was also in Myanmar to open a hospital which was built with Singapore’s help. Mr Goh’s visit symbolises Singapore’s commitment to its bilateral friendship it holds with Myanmar. Singapore’s investment in Myanmar is important as a fellow nation in Southeast Asia and ASEAN, our progress as a region is tied to each other.
Closer to home, Minister Mentor, Lee Kuan Yew, spent the week in Malaysia. During his stay, Mr Lee met with many leaders including Prime Minister Najib Razak. While impressing the ministers his in depth knowledge of the country, Mr Lee was clear that while Singapore and Malaysia will continue to support each other, the friendship must continue under circumstances of complete fairness. In this he meant that cooperation between the neighbours must be long term and across the board, rather than in specific sectors only. He also emphasised the need to reach resolutions in which both nations will benefit and neither is at a loss. Most important to Mr Lee was that cooperation between the two was constant and consistent. This was particularly important so as to ensure long term investments which can only be attracted when there is stability and consistency in policies. The visit by the Minister Mentor is yet another example of Singapore’s commitment to strengthening her ties with her neighbours in order to ensure peace and economic prosperity.