(Petaling Jaya, Monday): Singapore and Malaysian Ministers and leaders should observe a moratorium and stop mutual bashing to create conditions for the amicable resolution of the Customs, Immigration and Quarantine (CIQ) and other outstanding Malaysia-Singapore issues.
Threats and counter-threats by Cabinet Ministers warning of "dire consequences" to the other country if the "patience of the people" in one country runs out are not going to help to create the conditions and atmosphere conducive to an amicable settlement of outstanding bilateral issues, in keeping with the three-decade-old ASEAN spirit and solidarity.
One year after the worst economic crisis in the region, ASEAN countries should be developing closer relationships to forge a common response to the Asian economic turmoils which had shattered the past economic achievements of the region instead of turning against one another with a long series of strains, threatening to escalate into a full-fledged conflict if not a cold war.
This is self-defeating to all the countries in the region for it would undermine the ability of the ASEAN countries to forge a common regional and international response to the Asian economic turmoils.
The National Economic Recovery Plan (NERP) prepared by the National Economic Action Council (NEAC) has proposed regional and international initiatives to respond to the year-long currency crisis as it is a matter of vital importance for Malaysia to have a stable ringgit. This is because a strong, stable ringgit is interlinked with restoring confidence, maintaining financial and capital markets stability, as well as enabling the real economy to recover and grow.
Regional and international initiatives proposed by the NERP includes:
How can the NERP proposals for regional and international initiatives to deal with the Asian economic turmoils, which is threatening a new round of crisis that could even turn global, have any chance of success when the two closest neighbours, Malaysia and Singapore, are going through another rough patch of very strained and stressful relationship?
I have suggested a Malaysia-Singapore Parliamentary Conference where fully-mandated Members of Parliament from both sides could discuss and seek an amicable settlement of the CIQ and other outstanding bilateral disputes and issues.
In fact, the proposed Malaysia-Singapore Parliamentary Conference can be a permanent forum not only to help defuse and resolve outstanding issues and disputes between the two countries, but also to promote closer understanding and relationship between the peoples of Malaysia and Singapore.