King: Outgoing Singapore PM Lee Hsien Loong, a close friend of Malaysia

By Nur Ashikin Abdul Aziz

SINGAPORE, May 6: His Majesty Sultan Ibrahim, King of Malaysia, expressed special thanks to the outgoing Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong for being a close friend to Johor and Malaysia.

Sultan Ibrahim said Lee’s dedication and foresight has steered Malaysia and Singapore towards closer cooperation in building a better future.

His Majesty also congratulated Lee’s successor Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong on his elevation to be the new prime minister this coming May 15.

“I have every confidence that his esteemed leadership will further strengthen ties between our two nations,” Sultan Ibrahim said at the State Banquet held at The Istana, here today.

The State Banquet hosted by Singapore President Tharman Shanmugaratnam was held in conjunction with the two-day state visit by His Majesty and Her Majesty Raja Zarith Sofiah, Queen of Malaysia, to the republic.

In reflecting on the ties between the two countries, His Majesty said Malaysia and Singapore have a special relationship, bonded by a common history and culture as well as close economic ties.

“One of the core elements of our ties together is that of between Johor and Singapore having enjoyed a splendid relationship over decades,” he said.

Meanwhile, Sultan Ibrahim also paid tribute to Singapore’s founding father, the late Lee Kuan Yew for being the chief architect of the republic and shared stories of His Majesty’s close ties with the Lee family.

“He has laid the strong foundation that was essential for the country. He has guided many and loved to lecture too. I, myself was not spared. He has lectured me on many topics and I have learnt much from him,” Sultan Ibrahim said.

His Majesty said the first prime minister of Singapore, among others, shared the need to be consistent in policy as it will inspire confidence among  long term investors, which is critical for economic growth.

Meanwhile, earlier His Majesty and the Singapore President unveiled the designs for the stamps jointly issued by Pos Malaysia and SingPost to kick-off the commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Causeway this year.

The two leaders also viewed a photo exhibition on the Causeway’s long and eventful history.

Sultan Ibrahim and Raja Zarith Sofiah arrived in Singapore today for a two-day state visit to the republic.

The state visit, the first since His Majesty’s ascension to the federal throne on Jan 31, is at the invitation of the Singapore President.