(Petaling Jaya, Saturday): The statement by the Malaysian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the issue of the Malaysia Customs, Immigration and Quarantine (CIQ) in Singapore has put in better perspective and context the history and development of the negotiations and discussions between the Malaysian and Singapore Governments on the issue.
It has helped to answer some of the questions which had been raised because of the failure of the Malaysian authorities to give a full and proper account of its version of events on the Malaysian CIQ issue.
In the Singapore Parliament yesterday, Singapore Home Affairs Minister Professor S Jayakumar, gave in detail the full background of Singapore’s version of the CIQ dispute, claiming that the Singapore government had made considerable effort and made many proposals to resolve this issue and that these efforts proved unsuccessful after bilateral talks broke down earlier this week.
The question is why the Singapore Government released an exchange of confidential correspondence between the two Governments on the issue even before the talks broke down on July 28.
It is most regrettable that the Singapore Government has not responded to calls that it defer its move of its CIQ to Woodlands to give time for an amicable settlement of the issue.
However, the Singapore Government’s refusal to give topmost priority to the maintenance of sound and healthy bilateral relations between the two countries should not discourage continuing efforts to restore proper Malaysia-Singapore ties.
For this reason, the Malaysian Parliament should propose a Malaysia-Singapore Parliamentary Conference with parliamentary delegations from both countries fully mandated to seek solutions to the CIQ issue and other outstanding Malaysia-Singapore issues.
I have given notice to the Speaker of Dewan Rakyat, Tun Mohamed Zahir Ismail that on Monday, I would move a motion of urgent, definite public importance on the latest strain in Malaysia-Singapore relations arising from the Malaysian Customs, Immigration and Quarantine (CIQ) checkpoint at Tanjong Pagar railway station.
In my motion seeking the adjournment of Parliament to debate the issue, I would stress that the majority of Malaysians and Singaporeans would want the two governments to resolve not only the CIQ issue, but a number of other outstanding issues, amicably without further straining Malaysia-Singapore relations, whether at the people-to-people or government-to-government level, as it does not speak well for good neighbourliness and over three decades of ASEAN spirit and solidarity for Malaysia and Singapore to be at each other's throats as if they have always been implacable enemies.
I would contend that if there is a breakdown of government-to-government relations, may be the two Parliaments of Malaysia and Singapore should attempt a rapprochment and an amicable settlement of the outstanding disputes between the two countries, with full mandates given to the Parliamentary delegations of both countries to fully explore and reach a new consensus to build a new Malaysia-Singapore relationship where both countries can co-operate closely for the peace, development, democracy, human rights and the creation of a vibrant regional civil society
In view of the increasing number of issues which are likely to set Malaysia and Singapore on a path of conflict and confrontation, and in order to help defuse a new round of tensions and bad blood between the two countries, I would ask the Malaysian Parliament to formally invite the Singapore Parliament to a Malaysia-Singapore Parliamentary Conference with parliamentary delegations from both countries fully mandated to seek solutions to the CIQ issue and other outstanding Malaysia-Singapore issues.
I hope my proposal for a Malaysia-Singapore Parliamentary Conference on the outstanding disputes between the two countries would have the support of the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad and the Malaysian Government.