Bernama news today reported Lee Kuan Yew in an uncustomary upbeat tone for Malaysia. The report below:
January 8th, 2008
Malaysia Will Not Face Economic Hardhsip - Kuan Yew
SINGAPORE, Jan 7 (Bernama) -- Malaysia will experience a healthy economic growth this year as the signs are positive, former Singapore Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew said tonight.
He said the current high prices of petroleum and Malaysia's commodities such as palm oil and others would bring good revenues this year and keep the country's economy buoyant.
Lee was speaking at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS) 40th anniversary gala dinner here.
He said although Malaysia was expected to experience lower growth of 5.6 percent compared to 5.7 percent last year, the country would not face any economic hardship.
Lee mentioned that Malaysia was embarking on major economic projects such as developing the whole country through integrated plans like the Southern Johor, East Coast and Northern Corridor Economic Regions.
One can see the cue at the end. He is saying the Economic Corridors will be the impetus to attract money abroad and spur economic growth. It is though Lee Kuan Yew is trying to comfort investors and promote investment in Malaysia.
Why would he want to do so? Well, Singapore is increasingly buying up strategic investment in Malaysia and the last he needs is another Suzhou.
If one can recall he is not only not quite compliementary, but alarmist, when making remarks on Malaysia. Lets recall his remarks on supposed crime in JB, bilateral issues, and our internal domestic issues. LKY doesn't give complimentary word on Malaysia for nothing.
Lets recall Singapore's Berita Harian report dated June 3oth, 2007 and the ones in bold sort of a friendly alert to Pak Lah.
'IDR Beri Tekanan Pada S'pura
Oleh Azahar Mohd
WILAYAH Pembangunan Iskandar (IDR) boleh memberi tekanan kepada ekonomi Singapura termasuk menyebabkan masalah pengangguran, namun begitu Singapura tetap memberi sokongan kepada projek tersebut kerana ia saling menguntungkan kedua-dua negara, kata Menteri Pembimbing, Encik Lee Kuan Yew.
Bagaimanapun, syarikat dan pelabur Singapura yang berminat menyertai projek berkenaan tidak boleh menjangkakan layanan istimewa daripada Malaysia, sebagaimana layanan murah hati yang diberikan China kepada Hongkong dalam projek pembangunan wilayahnya di Shenzhen, kata beliau.
Menyatakan demikian dalam satu wawancara khas, Encik Lee melahirkan keyakinan terhadap potensi kerjasama dalam IDR itu kerana Singapura melihat projek tersebut dari perspektif lebih luas.
'Projek IDR akan memberi tekanan ke atas Singapura, seperti juga Shenzhen ke atas Hongkong, dengan menarik industri-industri dari Hongkong ke Shenzhen dan bandar-ban dar berdekatan.
'Ini menyebabkan Hongkong mempunyai hanya sedikit sahaja pusat pengilangan dan kadar pengangguran yang tinggi. Ekonomi Hongkong kini bergantung kepada sektor perkhidmatan.
'Jika Singapura hilang banyak industri kepada IDR, kita akan menghadapi masalah pengangguran yang teruk kerana tidak semua pekerja kilang boleh mencari pekerjaan dalam sektor perkhidmatan,' kata Encik Lee dalam wawancara sempena sambutan ulang tahun ke-50 Berita Harian esok.
Beliau turut memberikan pandangan mengenai peranan media Melayu dan peranan Berita Harian dalam pembangunan Singapura, yang akan disiarkan dalam keluaran khas Berita Harian esok.
Sementara itu, semasa merujuk kepada konsep kerjasama China-Hongkong, Encik Lee berkata selepas syarikat-syarikat Hongkong berpindah ke Shenzhen, Beijing menyelamatkan ekonomi Hongkong dengan membenarkan berjuta-juta pelancong China melawat Hongkong.
Beijing memberi layanan istimewa kepada syarikat Hongkong dengan melanjutkan waktu operasi mereka berdasarkan syarat-syarat murah hati.
'Singapura tidak boleh menjangkakan layanan serupa dari Malaysia. Tetapi kita percaya dari perspektif lebih luas adalah lebih baik bagi kedua-dua negara, dengan Malaysia menerima manfaat daripada pertumbuhan ekonomi Singapura, dan begitu juga Singapura,' ujarnya.
Mengenai bantahan sesetengah pihak terhadap penyertaan Singapura dalam IDR, terutama ahli politik Malaysia, seperti PAS dan Umno, Encik Lee berkata:
'Adalah satu perkara bagi parti PAS cuba menjatuhkan Perdana Menteri, tetapi apabila pemimpin Umno, terutama dari Johor, turut bertindak serupa, pelabur dari Singapura mesti bertanya secara serius bila sikap itu akan berubah, dan sama ada mereka mengalu-alukan pelaburan kami di IDR,' ujarnya.
Menurutnya, politik dalaman dan bantahan itu bertujuan untuk mengeksploitkan isu-isu itu dan menjejas sokongan terhadap kepimpinan Perdana Menteri Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi dan kerja sama yang saling menguntungkan itu.
Selain bercakap tentang hubungan Singapura-Malaysia, Encik Lee juga memberi pandangannya tentang hubungan Singapura-Indonesia. Menurutnya, hubungan-hubungan itu ada pasang surut.
Bahkan, katanya, Singapura juga sering didakwa tidak peka pada jirannya apabila ia tidak mahu menerima perubahan yang mereka inginkan pada perjanjian yang telah dipersetujui.
Isu homoseksual dan perlunya Singapura menarik bakat asing turut disentuh MM Lee”.
To get the reaction and analysis to this comment, read back Dato A Kadir Jasin's July 1st 2007 posting and Dato Ruhanie's July 1st, 2007 posting.
It wasn't long later that one begin to hear announcement of investment by Singapore firms like Yongnam Holdings Ltd. Comments and reports condemning the condemnation of IDR and Singapore begin to surface.
Full cooperation from Johor Umno for WPI, says Najib
Bernama Julai 1hb, 2007
Johor Umno fully supports the Iskandar Development Region (WPI) and will give full cooperation so that the WPI development concept will succeed as aspired by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.
Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said the assurance was given personally by the Johor Menteri Besar who is also the Johor Umno Liaison head, Datuk Abdul Ghani Othman, when contacted by Najib from here today to seek his clarification on the matter.
"As such, it isn't true if anyone says that there is no support from the Johor Umno. In planning for the development of the WPI, we certainly take into consideration the interest of all parties.
"And Singapore investors can be accepted and we welcome them as investors in the development planning framework for the WPI which had already been drawn up," he told reporters after opening the Kuala Kangsar Umno delegates meeting at the Dewan Merdeka, here.
Najib was commenting on the statement by Singapore Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew who said that Singapore investors must ascertain whether their presence in the WPI was welcome as there was opposition from Umno leaders, especially from Johor.
Najib, who is also Umno deputy president, said investors from Singapore who were keen to participate in the WPI would be given the same treatment and terms as those given to investors from the other countries.
"For example, if the region is exempted from participation by Bumipiuteras and other local interests, it would also be accorded to Singapore companies.
"This does not mean that we will exclude the Bumiputera interests totally. We will balance it with certain approaches such as encouraging Bumiputera companies to invest in the WPI on a joint-venture basis with investors from Singapore, West Asia and the other countries," he said.
A newspaper report had quoted Lee as saying that Singapore companies intending to invest in the IDR could not expect privileged treatment from Malaysia just like the "generous treatment" accorded by China to investors from Hong Kong in Shenzhen province.
The WPI, spanning 2,200 square kilometres in south Johor, encompassing several districts such as Johor Baharu, Kota Tinggi and Pontian.
Khazanah Nasional, which was given the task to develop the special economic zone twice the size of Singapore, projected that the WPI would receive about RM50 billion in investments in the near future and creating 800,000 job opportunities.
Some words to comfort Singapore.
S'pore 'needn't worry about investing in IDR'
By Carolyn Hong
The Straits Times September 17th, 2007
SINGAPOREANS should not be unduly concerned about the rumblings from Johoreans about their participation in the state's economic region, said Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.
The former Johor Menteri Besar told The Straits Times that the people of Johor are pragmatic, and pointed out that Singapore has always been its biggest investor.
Tan Sri Muhyiddin, the Agriculture and Agro-based Industries Minister, is currently a vice-president of Umno.
He believed that the strong feelings about Singapore in Johor are partly due to the unresolved bilateral issues such as the price of water sold by Malaysia to Singapore, and the status of Malaysian railway land in Singapore.
Since the Iskandar Development Region (IDR) was launched, there have been rumblings over Malaysia's warm welcome to Singapore to cooperate and participate in the development.
Most recently, former premier Mahathir Mohamad warned that the local Malays would be left on the fringes of the development as Malaysian and Singapore Chinese bought up prime land in Johor.
Tan Sri Muhyiddin did not want to comment on this remark, but said he believed that Johoreans were coming around to the idea of Singapore participation in the IDR.
'But I think Singapore should not overplay its participation. There are smart ways of doing things. I don't want to talk as if I'm teaching them how to do it but there are so many mechanisms,' he said.
He also said there was a need for continuing explanations to Johoreans that the IDR was an international zone, not just for Singaporeans or the Arabs.
'Really, I don't think that if Singapore comes in with a proposal, the authorities are going to look at it and say, 'Singapore, no, cannot',' he said
Naturally when PAS raised the same issues resented by members of UMNO in the WPI area, there will be reaction.
The comforting wordds got bolder.
IDR's success will depend on S'pore role
The Straits Times, October 10th, 2007
THE success of Johor's Iskandar Development Region (IDR) will depend on Singapore's participation, said a respected economist.
But suspicions among some politicians of Singapore's intentions in the economic zone could cool response from the Republic, said Datuk Mohamed Ariff, executive director of the Malaysian Institute of Economic Research.
'It is not that Singaporeans are staying away, but Malaysians themselves are harbouring suspicions and doubts and creating problems, and some politicians are doing such things,' he told Chinese-language newspaper, Oriental Daily News in an interview published yesterday.
He said it did not make economic sense for Malaysia to discriminate against Singapore.
'We are just one of the options for Singapore investors who can invest elsewhere,' he said.
Apart from attracting RM4.1 billion (S$1.8 billion) worth of investments from the Middle East, the IDR has not received any other prominent foreign investments.
Malaysia is actively promoting the IDR - which is intended eventually to cover an area about three times the size of Singapore - as a new economic zone for the country.
Thats a recent history. For a more indepth read, go to to a WPI serie by blogger Si Bongkok - 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7. For more "fear factor", read this recent posting under the section "WPI – Kuda Trojan Untuk Musuh" on some defense perspective.
Why would LKY give a positive economic comment in the wake of the declining dollar, unabated rise in oil prices, political global instability, subprime problem in the US and a pessimistic global economic senario for 2008?
Is it a cooincident that there was a BN trial run over the weekend and words are that the upcoming General Election is expected in March. Is LKY's complimentary words a badly needed support for Pak Lah or a signal to certain group of voters at LKY's disposal? If so, one can only imagine Tunku and Tun Razak turning in their graves. Not to mention, the still living but "restless" Dr Mahathir.
The tagline for the classical TV commercial for EF Hutton reads as "When EF Hutton speaks, people listen". To pun it, "When Lee Kuan Yew speaks, damn it people, listen carefully and read within those bloody lines!"