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Singapore firms invest nearly S$1b in Iskandar Malaysia project

By S Ramesh, Channel NewsAsia
17 January 2009

SINGAPORE: Singapore-Malaysia ties will remain positive under Malaysia's next premier Najib Tun Razak – that is the view of Malaysia's new High Commissioner to Singapore, Hussin Nayan, who has described current ties as excellent.

An important sign is the nearly S$1 billion (RM2.5 billion) worth of projects that Singapore companies have invested in the mega Iskandar Malaysia project in Johor.

Mr Hussin said: "Najib is not unfamiliar with Singapore leaders. He knows most of the Cabinet ministers in Singapore. I could assume that whatever changes that will take place would be gradual in nature and very smooth.

"I would imagine that Malaysian leaders would continue to improve relations with Singapore because Singapore is a very important country for us."

That is why Mr Hussin feels it is important not to be distracted by the occasional hiccups.

"Ups and downs will always be there, just like a family. It depends on how best we resolve these issues. From my own perspective, the best way to resolve all these ups and downs is through common sense and willingness, goodwill and open-mindedness, rather than harping on the negatives all the time.

"If we harp on the negatives, we will never improve and this has not happened in Singapore-Malaysia relations because leaders from both sides are positive," he added.

Since the Iskandar Malaysia project kicked off in 2005, Singapore companies have been involved in some 220 projects there. But Mr Hussin wants to encourage them to venture to other development programmes in Malaysia.

"I would encourage Singaporeans to go beyond Iskandar Malaysia. As you know, there are other regional development programmes that are being implemented in other stages. We do not doubt that Singapore investors would come in because Malaysia is not a new area for them," Mr Hussin said.

He also assures Singapore businessmen a friendly experience when discussing investment proposals with their Malaysian counterparts.

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