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Kuan Yew’s trip down memory lane?

KUALA LUMPUR, 6 June 2009: Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew, the first prime minister and father of modern Singapore, is to visit Malaysia next week to tour several states and meet with a number of Malaysian leaders, entrepreneurs, opinion leaders and senior journalists.

His eight-day visit, from 8 to 15 June 2009, starts with a meeting with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak as well as with several high-level officials, top editors and politicians.

Officials from both countries say the 85-year-old Lee is also scheduled to meet Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin as well as Umno politicians and old friends in what some regard as a trip down memory lane.

It is learnt that the Singapore media will be sending a big group of journalists to cover Lee’s visit, which will take in Perak, Penang, Kelantan and Pahang.

Lee is scheduled to visit Ipoh and have an audience with the Sultan of Perak, Sultan Azlan Shah, and call on Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir.

He will then travel to Penang where he will call on Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng and then cross over to Kelantan in the east coast of the peninsula.

Lee is scheduled to have an audience with the Regent of Kelantan, Tengku Muhammad Faris Petra, and call on Menteri Besar Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat in what is believed to be their first face-to-face meeting. Nik Aziz, the PAS spiritual leader, has been menteri besar of Kelantan for the past 19 years.  

Lee will then proceed south to Pahang where he will have an audience with Sultan Ahmad Shah and call on Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Adnan Yaakob.

Lee’s son, Hsien Loong, the current prime minister of Singapore, is expected to visit Kuala Lumpur soon.

Political analysts believe the elder Lee’s visit to Malaysia will be more than just “a trip down memory lane” as he is known to be a person who always keeps abreast of developments, particularly in gauging the scenario of the place which shares its history with Singapore.

As Prof Datuk Dr Shamsul Amri Baharuddin points out, Lee is a person who understands very well the relationship between the two countries, as he had a part in the history of the formation of Malaysia and the separation of Singapore from Malaysia.

“The visit can be viewed as an endorsement for Najib as Lee is known as a person who deeply believes that if Malaysia is not stable, it will affect Singapore,” he says.

“Najib is the son of (Malaysia’s second prime minister) Tun Abdul Razak. Lee and Razak were peers, having done law together in London … another layer of relationship.

“I know Lee is very concerned with what is happening in Malaysia as anything that happens here will affect Singapore. Things that shape Malaysia will shape Singapore,” says Shamsul, who will be among those Lee is expected to meet during his visit.

He says Lee has likened situations in Malaysia and Singapore to the “umbilical cord” which connects the two countries.

Shamsul says that before Lee makes any statement, he will have given it deep thought as he is not the kind of leader who likes to make popular statements.

“If you look at his speeches, you know that he has a lot of information at his disposal,” he adds.

Another political analyst, Dr Oh Ei Sun, believes that Lee will be taking stock of the latest developments in Malaysia during the visit besides looking at ways to improve bilateral relations, something which he often does when he travels abroad.

“He will be meeting different strata of society. He is more or less advisor to the government. He not only advises the Singapore government. Sometimes he also offers his advice to the country he visits,” he says.

Malaysia and Singapore had a difficult relationship when Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad was the Malaysian prime minister while during the era of his successor, Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, the relationship grew a bit warmer, he says.

“Now Najib has taken over. Kuan Yew is an old acquaintance of Najib’s father (Razak). Perhaps he will take this opportunity to look into ways to improve the relationship. I think this trip will bring the relationship closer,” he adds. — Bernama

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2 Responses to “Kuan Yew’s trip down memory lane?”

  1. Gopal Raj Kumar says:

    It is a myth that Najib Razak (the current Malaysian Prime Minister)’s late father (second Prime Minister of Malaysia) Tun Abdul Razak read law together in London with Lee Kuan Yew.

    For the record, Lee read law at Cambridge but studied economics briefly at the LSE.

    This visit is perhaps a sign that he Lee has something in mind. He believes he would have a sympathetic ear to hear him in KL in Najib this time round.

    It is interesting to note the states and identities Lee has penned into his agenda (if these reports are reliable) for his proposed visit. They include opposition-held Chinese-dominated Penang, a controversial ex-King and his state in Perak, the Regent of Kelantan – a state in which his brother Kim Yew is said to have a seminal timber to oil palm project (Pahang is another state in which Kim Yew is said to have oil palm interests) ,and a state where Singapore planners are believed to have long harboured ideas about an airport offering a shorter more direct route to China, Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia.

    He may need the consent and friendship of power broker Nik Aziz and Faris Petra to be able to fulfill Singapore’s ambitions in this respect. Lee may also wish to discuss Singapore’s role in the recent ‘abduction’ (as the Kelantan Royals see it) of a princess of Indonesian descent married to the prince, who claimed to have been kept as a sex slave in Kelantan’s royal palace. The US media reports that the Singapore police gave the princess assistance to shake off her escorts during her recent visit to Singapore.

    More important, Lee is not getting younger. His dream of uniting the federation and Singapore into a Singapore-style state is nowhere near where he believed it ought to be, and the maturing of the Malays both sides of the causeway are a concern to Lee. Malays in Singapore are restless. Sien Loong does not have the total confidence and support of the region Lee enjoys.

  2. D Lim says:

    I don’t think Lee is harbouring a ‘reunion’ between M’sia and Singapore. Both nations have moved on from the separation and into very different directions and I don’t think the people want to be joined together as one state. Having said that, I can understand Lee’s concerns over the developments in Malaysia. After all, we should be concerned over developments in our neighbours’ houses because whatever happens can spill on … both positive and negative. He’s a very pragmatic not sentimental person!


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