SINGAPORE, Feb 8 — Bilateral ties between Malaysia and Singapore are at the best level and this legacy should be continued, said Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.
He said various efforts were being made by both countries towards further enhancing bilateral relations in various fields, especially in terms of security and issues of mutual interest.
Zahid said the relationship between his ministry and Singapore’s Home Affairs Ministry (MHA) was superb.
“But it is not impossible to open a larger window for room for further improvement, especially in addressing security issues, drug trafficking, illegal gambling and also issues of human traficking.
“In these matters, we have a common interest. This common interest is our priority. We want both countries, as very close neighbours, to have the sharing concept so that we can exchange information fast to enable us to act swiftly to prevent criminals from escaping to third countries where it may be more difficult to track them down,” he told Bernama in an interview here yesterday.
Also present was Malaysian High Commissioner to Singapore Datuk Husni Zai Yaacob.
Zahid arrived here for a two-day working visit to the republic on Thursday at the invitation of Singapore Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean, who is also the Home Minister.
During his visit, he also met Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Minister of Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen, Singapore and Foreign Minister K. Shanmugam.
This is his first visit to Singapore after his appointment as Home Minister.
On future collaboration, Ahmad Zahid said it was not impossible for both governments to share not only information but assets and equipment that could be used by them without affecting each other’s sovereignty.
“This to further enhance confidence building and comfortability not only among the leaders which is already very good but more importantly people-to-people ties,” he said.
He said the good relationship between the two neighboring countries had existed since the time of former prime minister the late Tun Abdul Razak Hussein and former Singapore Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew. Zahid said relations between the two countries had become even closer now as Prime Minister Lee and Malaysia’s Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak had similar backgrounds.
Hsien Loong is the son of Lee Kuan Yew while Najib’s father is the late Tun Abdul Razak.
“This is a legacy that must be further strengthened especially when many unresolved issues have been resolved,” he said.
Ahmad Zahid said he also stressed the the need for informal relationships between officials of various departments and agencies under the two home ministries be stregthened, so as to facilitate assistance or information to be shared effectively.
“Although we have protocols to be followed, the security aspect is borderless for joint cooperation and I opined that this could be addressed without having to face many barriers,” Ahmad Zahid said.
Earlier, after his meeting with Prime Minister Lee, the Foreign Ministry of Singapore in a statement had affirmed the good bilateral relations between two countries and said they should be enhanced.
“They talked about the close cooperation between law enforcement agencies on both sides. Prime Minister Lee welcomed the growing cooperation between Singapore and Malaysia and hoped it would be further strengthened,” the statement said. — Bernama