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11/04/2006

no need passport

No need passport Singaporeans will be allowed to enter two selected areas in JB without the need for passports and can stay as long as they want. This is the latest announcement coming from Malaysia, and a very bold initiative that takes the competition right to the competitor’s doorstep. The Malaysians are serious to make SJER a success, and they mean business by pulling every plug possible. Such an act will be unheard off during the Mahathir govt when economics was playing second fiddle to politics. Now they are brave, aggressive, creative and business like, like Singaporeans in many ways. It would be interesting to see how Singapore reacts to this Malaysian announcement. It is like a bolt of lightning. It poses a lot of challenges and also offers a lot of opportunities. It is not only about economic cooperation and competition, it is also about the twinning or intertwining of social and economic relations between the two states. If things kick off with a good start when both sides see the benefits of closer cooperations, there will be tremendous improvement in inter state relations instead of biting rivalry. Other Malaysian states will soon follow with their own initiatives to develop economic links and cooperation with Singapore. And Johore, being a more convenient location relative to Batam and Bintang, will be a big draw for Singapore companies and Singaporeans. Even foreigners and foreign companies will stand to benefit with such a move. What if Singapore does not see this as a positive proposal and reacted with another ¾ thing or something cute but regressive? Any negative thoughts or rulings will be like slapping its own face. It will not only be bad for long term bilateral relations, it will destroy whatever goodwill that we have built for so long. And the Malaysians will gain all the initiative and support to lash out at Singapore for not walking the talk. We shall all hope that this Malaysian initiative will be the harbinger for better relations and cooperation. It is the kind of competitive strategy that Singapore should welcome and encourage, aggressive but rational business strategies devoid of politicking, emotions and sentiments.

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