Proposal for a Eminent Persons Group (EPG) comprising equal number of eminent citizens from Malaysia and Singapore to devise formula to resolve outstanding differences or mechanism to deal with them without any loose talk and sabre-rattling from either side

Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(Petaling Jaya, Tuesday): Two days ago, the world saw a historic breakthrough in the improvement in cross-strait relations when a Boeing 747-400 of Taiwan's China Airlines, carrying 243 passengers and crew, flew to Shanghai via Hong Kong and returned to Taipei the same way - the first of 16 charter flights to help Taiwanese get home for the Lunar New Year holidays starting on Feb. 1.

In contrast, the nearest cross-strait relations between Malaysia and Singapore took a lurch for the worse in the past few days.

After lodging a report with Suhakam yesterday afternoon on the worst dengue epidemic in the nation's history which was raging on unchecked, claiming more lives and violating "the mother of all human rights" - the right to life - I was informed of the Berita Harian report of the Young PAP having an online discussion forum for Singaporeans to discuss the possibility of war with Malaysia.

I was shocked by the news, for this seemed to have taken the reputation of Singaporeas for being brash, insensitive and arrogant to a new height.

The insensitive war talk on the online discussion forum, as reported by the Berita Harian which I read on my return to the DAP headquarters in Petaling Jaya after lunch, was in bad taste, insensitive, unneighbouly and arrogant.

If the Berita Harian report was true and correct, the Young PAP's action in having an online discussion group to encourage war talk against Malaysia was most deplorable and deserved censure.

However, when I tried to check on the discussion forum on the Young PAP website, I could not find it. This restrained me from making any comments in the absence of verification.

Berita Harian today reported that the discussion thread was taken off the Young PAP website sometime yesterday afternoon. If so, this would show that there are still redeeming features despite the original insensitivities in putting up the highly offensive discussion forum earlier.

There have been too much loose talk, including war talk, on both sides of the Johore straits which had poisoned the bilateral relationship.

Recently, Tim Huxley, the British author of the book Defending the Lion City, complained that his work had been taken out of context in the earlier spat between the two countries over Pulau Batu Puteh.

It does not reflect well on both the governments and leaderships of the two countries for such vitriolic relationship to continue.

The two governments should seriously consider the possibility of establishing a Eminent Persons Group (EPG) comprising an equal number of eminent citizens from both Malaysia and Singapore to devise a formula to resolve outstanding bilateral differences or a mechanism to deal with them without any loose talk and sabre-rattling from either side.

The EPG should be given a time-frame from two to three weeks to complete its recommendations and to give Malaysia and Singapore an opportunity to either resolve their outstanding differences or to agree on a mechanism to seek their resolution without any war talk or sabre-rattling from either side.


* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman