Ways to deepen ties between S'pore, Malaysia

Ways to deepen ties between S'pore, Malaysia

SINGAPORE - Regarding President Tony Tan Keng Yam's recent state visit to Malaysia ("'Big Dreams' for future of Singapore and Malaysia"; last Thursday), the peaceful settlement of several disputes in recent years, such as Pedra Branca, has paved the way for a new era of enhanced ties, not only in the economic sphere, but also militarily.

Singapore and Malaysia share a closely entwined history and culture, and we should capitalise on this to strengthen both nations.

Relooking our military cooperation would certainly reflect closer ties. Singapore could consider sharing certain elements of our military technology and defence industry expertise in return for Malaysia's leasing of its airspace for the use of our air force.

More bilateral military exercises could be conducted to increase both of our militaries' combat-readiness and peacekeeping capabilities.

The Singapore Armed Forces already has a presence in Brunei, and neighbouring Sarawak, with its vast expanse of land, could well serve our future military training needs.

All this could be accomplished under an expanded Five-Power Defence Arrangements - which comprise Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand and Britain - framework.

Economically, a third causeway can complement the development of Iskandar Malaysia and our North Coast Innovation Corridor as inter-dependent economic zones.

In addition, the oil industry is a sector with much untapped potential. Singapore and Malaysia can consider joint development of East Malaysia's vast natural resources, utilising Malaysia's vast experience in upstream exploration and production with Singapore's expertise in downstream processing and refinery operations.

Hence, potential rivalry in the oil sector could be turned into a win-win situation for both nations as the oil industry is a key pillar of both our economies.

More importantly, such cooperation would bring about higher levels of economic stability that would make it easier for us to encourage greater foreign investment and growth in our economy.

- Kuek Jia Yao, Reader

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