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Dr Vivian Balakrishnan Image: Ministry of Foreign Affairs Singapore

Bilateral relations between US and China a greater concern for Singapore than developments in Malaysia, says Minister for Foreign Affairs

Although Singapore does not deny the significance of developments taking place in Malaysia, the Republic is primarily keeping an eye on developments concerning bilateral relations between the United States and China for the time being, said Minister for Foreign Affairs Dr Vivian Balakrishnan.

Speaking to Malaysian journalists at the 12th Malaysian Journalists Visit Programme in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday (9 Oct), Dr Balakrishnan said: “The most important thing right now is the evolving bilateral relationship between the US and China ... It is still unfolding in front of us.

“The US and Europe are our biggest source of foreign direct investment. Any trade war, even trade tensions, is a cause of great concern for us. All that didn’t change on May 9 for us.

“What happens in Malaysia is very important to us… but that is not the main strategic change that is imperative for the plans that we are unfolding right now in Singapore,” adding that he doesn't “date everything to May 9.”

Dr Balakrishnan was responding to a question regarding the possibilities that might be faced by Singapore internally, as well as the Republic's relations with the neighbouring nation after the latter's political upheaval post-14th General Election, which witnessed the fall of 61 years of Barisan Nasional's rule, and subsequently made way for the Pakatan Harapan coalition to form a brand new government, according to Bernama.

He added that Singapore is undergoing a restructuring of the economy and is also focusing on preparing for a political transition, as the People's Action Party (PAP) in particular prepares for political successors – including that of current Prime Minister Mr Lee Hsien Loong – in the near future.

When asked to comment on Anwar Ibrahim's prediction that Singapore-Malaysia bilateral ties will strengthen in the years to come, Dr Balakrishnan replied: “Yes, we are glad that he has indicated that he views good bilateral relations as something necessary and positive for us.

“To me, I don’t view any particular issue as something that will derail the larger strategic relationship.

"So yes, it’s good for leaders to say they want good relations, but I look beyond individual leaders,” he concluded.