Singapore envoy hails special cooperation with Malaysia

Joy at the border: Menon (right) with Khairy at the republic’s 57th National Day event in Kuala Lumpur. — LOW LAY PHON/The Star

KUALA LUMPUR: The rapport between Malaysia and Singapore in countering the Covid-19 crisis is a sign of improved “lines of communication” between both sides, says the republic’s chief diplomat here.

Singapore High Commissioner Vanu Gopala Menon, in paying tribute to the efforts by both countries to battle the deadly pandemic, said the experience reinforced how interdependent both sides were.

“The road to recovery was long and arduous. But the excellent ties and open lines of communication between our countries helped to ensure that the supply of essential goods and services were maintained.

“This time last year, Malaysia was coming out of a full MCO (movement control order) and ready to enter phase two. In Singapore, the full resumption of travel for leisure was unthinkable and there were limits on social gatherings.

“The scene at the Causeway devoid of traffic was unsettling. We would like to pay tribute not just to what we have missed, but also what we have achieved in our relationship,” he said in an address at Singapore’s 57th National Day reception held at a hotel here on Wednesday evening.

Exchanging toasts with the envoy as the special guest was Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin.

The event was themed “We Missed You” as it was Singapore’s first National Day reception in three years due to the pandemic.

Menon, who is the dean of the Diplomatic Corps here, said things had changed for the better since critical economic and people-to-people ties were suddenly disrupted.

“Those short business trips or weekend holidays came to a grinding halt. Families were separated, businesses on both sides languished.

“But we set up travel lanes to let families reunite, and earlier this year, reopened our borders safely.

“Furthermore, Singapore contributed medical supplies to Malaysia and we shared information on our respective Covid-19 situations,” he added.

Menon said with both countries having reopened their borders, it was time to look forward and welcomed more Malaysians to visit Singapore.

“Many have yet to cross over. I hope you will make a trip and enjoy the sights again,” he added.

The envoy reserved special praise for Khairy, who he said had been instrumental in leading an exemplary Covid-19 response.

Khairy recently met Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and both shared their experiences in facing the challenges of the Covid-19 Delta and Omicron waves.

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