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M’sia, S’pore emphasise Palestinian humanitarian aid

KUALA LUMPUR (Bernama) — Malaysia and Singapore agree that providing humanitarian assistance to Palestine is paramount, said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim during a joint press conference with Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong after the 10th Malaysia-Singapore Leaders’ Retreat on Monday.

“I think what is the common position is important,” he said, alluding to the different approach taken by each side since the Israel-Palestine conflict began on October 7.

Anwar was responding to a question about the approaches taken by each country and whether there will be any spillover effect on Malaysia-Singapore bilateral ties caused by the reactions and sentiments in both countries regarding the current situation in the Middle East.

 Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim (left) with and his Singapore counterpart Lee Hsien Loong during the 10th Malaysia-Singapore Leaders’ Retreat on Oct 20, 2023. PHOTO: BERNAMA

Explaining further, Anwar said Malaysia took a much stronger position on the conflict as the whole issue in Palestine have not only been occurring for the past two weeks.

“But it’s what we termed as politics of dispossession, one country cannot continue to colonise another part of the Palestinian lands. But what is critical for now is, of course, peace and stop the killing of civilians and babies.

“Of course, the sentiment in Malaysia is very strong,” he said adding that he has been in touch with many Arab leaders to express Malaysia’s position and support for a peaceful and immediate resolution to the conflict.

On October 27, United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) member nations had voted in favour of the ceasefire resolution on the Gaza conflict, with the aim of protecting people and honouring their legal and humanitarian commitments.

Malaysia and Singapore were among the 120 countries that voted in favour of the ceasefire, along with other neighbours Thailand, Brunei, and Indonesia.

Meanwhile, Lee said he does not think that the conflict should affect Singapore-Malaysia bilateral relations, noting that Singapore has made repeated statements about this conflict and condemned what’s happening in the Middle East.

“The violence, the human tragedy of civilians and innocent victims being killed and massacred and the hope that the two parties can make progress towards a negotiated two-state solution to the Middle East. And I think Singaporeans understand where we stand,” he said.

He pointed out that Malaysia’s situation is not the same as Singapore’s due to a different diplomatic situation, but there’s no reason for that to cause difficulty between the two countries.

“Their (Malaysia) situation is not the same as ours (Singapore) because we have diplomatic relations with Israel, but at the same time, we have friendly relations with the Palestine authority. 

“And Malaysia has very friendly relations with the Palestine authorities, but they don’t have diplomatic relations with Israel, so the diplomatic situation is not identical,” said Lee.

The Malaysia-Singapore Leaders’ Retreat held in Singapore this time is the highest level bilateral mechanism between the two countries, hosted alternately since 2007.