During the 8th Singapore-Malaysia Annual Retreat, which was held in Singapore in January this year (16 Jan), Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong made an off-the-cuff remark on the 14th Malaysia GE looming then at the retreat's press conference. Video of his remark immediately went viral, especially in Malaysia.
Speaking to the media at the time and in response to a journalist's question, then-former Malaysian PM Najib Razak said that the outcome of the Malaysian general election (GE14) would not change the nature of relations between Malaysia and Singapore.
Najib's remark then drew an immediate response from PM Lee, who said that this is "because you have confidence in the result", which saw the two leaders laughing.
Najib, of course, was saying that regardless of who would be the new government in Malaysia, the relationship between Malaysia and Singapore would remain unchanged.
But most people who saw the video interpreted PM Lee's remark as saying that Najib, who heads the Barisan Nasional coalition, had the confidence in winning the upcoming Malaysia GE14, and thereby would continue to enable Najib to be the leader of Malaysia with the win. Hence, together with PM Lee, the relationship between Singapore and Malaysia will continue to be maintained by the two of them.
The retreat in Jan between the two leaders also saw a number of agreements and MOUs signed between both countries.
Najib loses GE14 and barred from leaving M'sia
Four months later on Wed (9 May), with the conclusion of Malaysia GE14, it turns out that the Barisan Nasional coalition lost heavily and as such, Najib lost his premiership.
The Malaysian opposition Pakatan Harapan headed by Dr Mahathir beat the Barisan Nasional conclusively, resulting in Dr Mahathir becoming the new PM. He has said that he would later step down and pass the premiership to Anwar, who is now waiting for an official pardon by the King, so that he can be released from prison.
Meanwhile, the newly elected government has barred the ousted PM Najib and his wife from leaving the country today (12 May). Dr Mahathir has said that 1MDB scandal involving Najib would be investigated. Billions of dollars from 1MDB, some laundered through Singapore, were said to have been lost.
The travel ban came as speculation mounted that Najib and Rosmah, the hugely unpopular wife of Najib due to her reported love of luxury shopping trips, were about to board a plane to fly to Indonesia.
This morning (12 May), an angry crowd descended on the airport in a bid to stop them leaving. As a white van with heavily tinted windows attempted to pass by, the crowd surrounded the van and demanded it be opened so they could see who was inside. They tried to rock the vehicle and one man shouted, "I hate Rosmah".
It was only allowed to pass after those inside rolled down a window to show that Najib was not inside. Another person also shouted, "We have the right to know who is inside the car, as a citizen I will fight for that. We have suffered for so many years. I don't want them to get out of the country."
In any case, it's not known how the new Malaysian government would view the favorable comment made by PM Lee towards Najib and his party four months ago with regard to Malaysia GE14.
So, in hindsight, perhaps PM Lee shouldn't have been so quick to bet on Najib's winning. He should perhaps stop commenting on politics of other people's country altogether, so as to avoid betting on the "wrong horse", and thereby jeopardizing Singapore's interests.
What do you think?