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EDITORIAL: Malaysia and S'pore mus

Subject: EDITORIAL: Malaysia and  S'pore must let go of past  

Editorial & Opinion 

      EDITORIAL: Malaysia and
      S'pore must let go of past

      THE surprise visit by Singapore Prime
      Minister Goh Chok Tong to see Malaysian
      Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamed on
      Thursday and the amicable atmosphere
      achieved for both nations to work together
      to improve ties are much welcomed,
      especially as they come ahead of the
      important Asia-Pacific Economic
      Cooperation (Apec) leaders' meeting in 10
      days' time in Kuala Lumpur. 

      Both leaders are known to have a good
      rapport with each other but events in recent
      months were beyond their personal control.
      Emotional outbursts were the order of the
      day over a host of issues ranging from
      airspace to location of a customs and
      immigration checkpoint. 

      The recent launching of Singapore Senior
      Minister Lee Kuan Yew's memoirs that
      delved into a series of political and
      personality differences leading to the
      island's breakaway from Malaysia also did
      not help. 

      The list of differences between the two
      countries is long. But what is vital now is
      that the leaders of both countries must
      exercise rationality and vision if they are not
      to damage each other or harm the unity of

      Kuala Lumpur, especially Mahathir and his
      senior politicians and bureaucrats, must
      look ahead rather than back at the dark old
      days of colonialism or the immediate
      post-colonial era in guiding Malaysia
      forward. Mahathir will go down in history as
      the leader who successfully propelled the
      Malays forward with good education and
      proper place in society. 

      With that step achieved, it is no longer
      necessary to continue to give Malays more
      privileges than other races who reside in
      Malaysia especially the Chinese. The
      political domination of United Malay
      National Organisation, the state's
      suppression of the press, and the
      draconian laws have become built-in
      anachronisms that underlie personal and
      national paranoia. Malaysian people's
      dignity and role in the world now requires
      them to live and engage in a level-playing
      field because they are already just as good
      as anybody. 

      Likewise, Singapore leaders should try to
      end fuelling their people with a sense of
      political, economic and social insecurity. It
      is not unusual to hear of Singaporeans
      living in constant hype and fear that they
      could become an island of refugees if they
      do not work hard or follow their leaders
      without questions. Such conditions are
      hardly catalysts for having amicable and
      harmonious thoughts towards neighbouring

      But both countries are active players
      regionally and internationally. It is these
      broader visions which must transcend the
      ongoing quarrels. It must begin with leaders
      of both countries setting their internal
      conditions right. It requires an open and
      transparent system so that no one is kept
      suppressed and paranoiac by unbecoming
      and unseen activities affecting their lives. 

      All of these things may seem illusive and
      difficult to grasp. In a way, it is about
      changing paradigm or ideology. Another is
      to let go of the haunted past. The new
      generations of leaders of both countries
      seem ready to do so. The disputes
      between Malaysia and Singapore are
      leftovers from the past which both are not
      willing to let go. They must if they are to live
      together. The choice is theirs. 

      The Nation