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Retreat with Dr M immediately postponed to unknown date after PM Lee happily announces it

On Tue (23 Oct), ST reported (‘Relations with Malaysia stable, ties with Indonesia good: PM Lee‘) that PM Lee will travel to Putrajaya to meet Malaysian PM Dr Mahathir Mohamad for a leaders’ retreat in late Nov.

It will take place about 10 days after Dr Mahathir comes to Singapore for the Asean Summit, PM Lee proudly announced at a public dialogue. The Asean Summit is to be held in Singapore from Nov 11 to 15.

The retreat with Dr Mahathir is an annual meeting between the leaders of Singapore and Malaysia, and it will be the first time the new Malaysian Pakatan Harapan government would be attending.

PM Lee assured that Singapore’s relations with Malaysia are stable. “The High-Speed Rail (HSR) was an issue potentially, but we worked out a two-year deferment for the HSR project and that was a constructive resolution of what could have been a spiky dispute,” he said.

He added, “I hope that at the retreat (with Dr Mahathir), we will be able to look ahead, to discuss win-win opportunities in order to deepen our cooperation and friendship.”

Three days after the news was reported by ST, the Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs suddenly issued a terse statement yesterday (26 Oct) saying that the retreat has been postponed.

No date has been fixed as to when the retreat would take place between the leaders of Singapore and Malaysia:

No reasons were also given as to the sudden postponement of the retreat when, as can be seen, PM Lee was so enthusiastically looking forward to it.

When the new Malaysian Pakatan Harapan government was sworn-in in May this year, PM Lee quickly flew to KL to congratulate Dr Mahathir. However, Dr Mahathir only granted him half an hour of audience, compared to say, Alibaba’s founder Jack Ma who had a full-hour of meeting with Dr Mahathir.

Certainly, comparing the previous Malaysian PM Najib with the present one Dr Mahathir, PM Lee seems to have more success in “connecting” with Najib. The two even have a painting of them painted showing them savoring durians together: