Channel NewsAsia
Updated: 05/06/2013 12:07 | By Channel NewsAsia

"Good win" for PM Najib: Shanmugam

"Good win" for PM Najib: Shanmugam

"Good win" for PM Najib: Shanmugam

SINGAPORE: Foreign Minister K Shanmugam said the result of the Malaysian general election is a "good win" for Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak.

It reflects the confidence the electorate has in Mr Najib.

Speaking to Channel NewsAsia on Monday, Mr Shanmugam also noted the "racial polarisation" in Malaysia and said this is something Singapore has to try and guard against.

Malaysia's ruling Barisan Nasional was returned to power after winning 133 of the 222 parliamentary seats to form the new federal government.

Singapore leaders noted that it was a "tough election" for Mr Najib.

Still, Mr Shanmugam said the results delivered a clear, stable government.

He said: "From our perspective, stability in Malaysia is all important. For us, such close neighbours, such strong economic and other ties, a stable Malaysia is extremely important."

However, he also noted that the results suggest a "racial polarisation" in Malaysia, with the opposition Democratic Action Party winning seats in areas with substantial Chinese population, and the BN, in those with a substantial Malay population.

"We have to hope that in some way, that polarisation doesn't lead to other problems," said Mr Shanmugam.

Mr Shanmugam said there are lessons to be learnt from how the elections played out.

He said: "One of the lessons is that thankfully we are not at the same level of racial polarisation and I think we can also learn from the experience to try and make sure that we remain a strongly multi-racial society, multi-racial country, so is Malaysia.

"But as their prime minister has noted, it has become somewhat polarised, the elections perhaps have somewhat accentuated it and it is something that we have to try and guard against."

The foreign affairs minister also touched on the impact of the election results in the southern state of Johor, long seen as a stronghold of the United Malays National Organisation, the leading party in BN.

BN retained the state but with an unprecedented loss of some seats.

Mr Shanmugam said that investments tied to the economic corridor of Iskandar Malaysia should not be affected by the election results.

He said: "At the economic level, government-to-government, there are agreements. They really ought not to be impacted by state-level development.

"Politically, there's continuity in the central government. We think there will be stability given the clear result and Prime Minister Najib has made significant moves to enhance bilateral cooperation, both ways, and it's been working well..."

Mr Shanmugam also acknowleged that some political parties may have used Singapore as a bogeyman for their political gain.

But he said this is something Singapore should not be concerned with.

Mr Shanmugam said: "During the elections, we saw a fair number of attacks or suggestions of attacks on Singapore, linking Singapore with one or more opposition parties and now that the elections are over, you can't rule out those sort of attacks, statements, suggestions being made.

"Untrue, inaccurate...but given that DAP has made some gains in Johor, you cannot rule out parties trying to use that for their own ends and make attacks. It's something that we need to be aware of but I'm not sure at this stage we need to be concerned about. People can look at the facts and know they are not true."

Relations between Singapore and Malaysia are unique because of factors like history, geography, politics and culture.

Ties with Johor are especially close, with the state located just north of Singapore.

Singapore is one of the largest foreign investors in Johor, and many Johoreans and Singaporeans travel across the Causeway daily for work and study.   - CNA/ac/ir

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