KUALA LUMPUR: The formation of a special ministerial committee between Malaysia and Singapore on the Iskandar Development Region (IDR) should not be seen as a sign that Malaysia was “giving in” on outstanding issues, the Dewan Negara was told.
Foreign Ministry parliamentary-secretary Ahmad Shabery Cheek said this did not mean that the country was weak or willing to give way to Singapore on outstanding issues between both nations.
Shabery told Senator Datuk Musa Sheikh Fadzir that the committee, formed to facilitate investment, business and tourism in IDR, would not make Malaysia’s economy overly dependent on Singapore or that it might be used by the republic as a bargaining chip to settle outstanding issues with Malaysia.
“At the end of the day, Malaysia is aiming to gain more economic benefits through this effort,” Shabery said during question time yesterday.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and his Singapore counterpart Lee Hsien Loong had agreed to set up a special ministerial committee to discuss areas of cooperation in the IDR, including the use of smartcards for easier travel between IDR and Singapore and the promotion of tourism.
Shabery said the IDR was an economic vehicle that would help Malaysia attract international investors.
He said China's Shenzen economic district had attracted many foreign investments which contributed to the country’s economy and improved its financial clout at the global arena.
“China’s sovereignty is still intact and its economic independence stays strong despite having attracted many foreign investments.
“Singaporeans should invest (in IDR) because of the economic benefits that can be gained by both countries,” Shabery said.