The Prime Minister of Singapore, the Honourable Lee Hsien Loong, will undertake a working visit to attend the 7th Malaysia – Singapore Leaders’ Retreat on 13 December 2016 in Putrajaya. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong will be accompanied by Mrs. Lee, several Cabinet Ministers, as well as other Senior Officials.


During the 7th Leaders’ Retreat, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong is scheduled to have a four-eyed meeting with the Prime Minister of Malaysia, YAB Dato’ Sri Mohd Najib Tun Abdul Razak, followed by a delegation meeting where both sides will discuss bilateral issues of mutual concern and review progress of existing bilateral cooperation and building on the momentum of discussion held and initiatives agreed during the 2015 Leaders’ Retreat.


The upcoming Leaders’ Retreat will also see the signing of the Agreement between the Government of Malaysia and the Government of the Republic of Singapore concerning the Kuala Lumpur – Singapore High Speed Rail, a landmark project expected to boost connectivity, facilitate travel between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore, enhance business linkages, and improve people-to-people ties.


The Annual Leaders’ Retreat is an annual event hosted rotationally between Malaysia and Singapore.The inaugural Leaders’ Retreat was held in May 2007 in Langkawi, Malaysia, and has since been a forum for both countries to further strengthen bilateral relations between the two countries.


In 2015, Singapore was Malaysia’s 2nd largest trading partner globally. In 2015, total trade between the two countries was recorded at USD59.5 billion (RM190.6 billion).


A Leaders’ Joint Statement will be issued following the conclusion of the Leaders’ Retreat.



12 DECEMBER 2016


YB Dato’ Sri Mustapa Mohamed, the Minister of International Trade and Industry, chaired the Malaysia Services Development Council (MSDC) 1/2014 on 10 April 2014 in Kuala Lumpur. YB Datuk Sri Idris Jala (CEO of PEMANDU) and representatives from various ministries/agencies and services industries associations were present at the meeting.

The Government has liberalised a number of important services sub-sectors to foreign participation in order to accelerate the growth of the services industry. Allowing foreigners to own businesses in Malaysia or in partnership with locals not only will inject competitiveness and improve productivity and upgrade the skills of Malaysians but could also assist them to establish business links overseas. Unilaterally, in 2009, a total of 27 services subsectors were opened up for foreign participation where foreigners can own up to 100 per cent equity in the company. To further accelerate investment into the services sector, the Government has announced, in the 2012 Budget, additional 18 services sub-sectors to be autonomously liberalised in phases. The Council was briefed on the implementation of the autonomous liberalisation of the 18 services sub-sectors and discussed the outstanding issues with regard to implementation measures.
The Council noted the liberalisation initiatives at the ASEAN level which provides opportunities for services providers to gain a bigger market access in ASEAN countries. Free flow of trade in services is one of the key deliverables in realising the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), where there will be substantially no restriction to ASEAN services suppliers in providing services and in establishing companies across national borders within the region, subject to domestic regulations.

Liberalisation of services has been carried out in several phases since the signing of the ASEAN Framework Agreement on Services in 1995 administered under the Coordinating Committee on Services (CCS). Negotiations of some specific services sectors such as financial services and air transport are carried out by their respective Ministerial bodies.

2 ASEAN has completed negotiations on the 9th Package of ASEAN Framework Agreement on Services (AFAS) which will be signed during the 46th ASEAN Economic Ministerial Meeting (AEM) in August 2014. The final 10th AFAS Package negotiation is targeted for completion and signing by end of 2015. Under the 9th Package of AFAS, Malaysia has offered 102 sub-sectors for liberalization. In facilitating the freer flow of services by 2015, ASEAN is also working towards recognition of professional qualifications through the establishment of Mutual Recognition Arrangement (MRAs). This is to facilitate the movement of these professionals within the region. There are 7 MRAs under the ASEAN liberalisation namely in Engineering, Architecture, Nursing, Dental, Medical, Accounting and Surveying.

The Council also discussed the work by the Malaysia Productivity Corporation (MPC) on Reducing Unnecessary Regulatory Burdens (RURB) aimed at reducing the regulatory cost of doing business, improving the business climate and supporting the economic growth. Regulations that efficiently contribute towards national objectives will be retained while redundant, unnecessarily burdensome and out dated regulations will be removed or modified. Regulations being reviewed relate to construction, logistics, professional services, private hospitals and education services.
The Council was also briefed on the work of SME Corp in enhancing the competency and capability of local SMEs in the services industry. The Government has allocated a sum of RM120 million for an integrated package to increase innovation and productivity of SMEs. The package will provide financing for mechanisation and automation, as well as upgrading capacity of SMEs. In this regard, the Government wishes to announce the details of the package as follows:

  • a sum of RM100 million allocated for soft loans (Soft Loan Scheme for SME - SLSME) to be managed by MIDF for automation and working capital, to SMEs which are affected by the Minimum Wage Policy;
  • a sum of RM10 million allocated for Lean Transformation Programme for SMEs to be implemented by MPC, with the objective of increasing productivity by eliminating non-value added activities; and
  • a sum of RM10 million allocated for training in specialised skills by training providers registered and endorsed by PSMB and SME Corp. Malaysia respectively. The training is expected to enhance technical and critical skills of employees in all economic sectors. From the total amount of RM10 million, at least RM3 million will be channeled to the various business associations and organisations in the services sector.

3 In order to encourage firms to comply with the Minimum Wage Policy effective this year and to reduce its financial impact on SMEs, the Government is providing a one-off incentive to cushion the immediate impact by granting a further tax deduction on the difference in the wages paid by employers for the period of 1 January 2014 to 31 December 2014.

In increasing exports contribution to the services sector, efforts are being undertaken to intensify promotion of services with higher export potential that includes oil and gas, maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO), creative design, electrical manufacturing services (EMS), ICT services including outsourcing, business solution and creative and multimedia contents. MATRADE will continue to undertake promotional programmes to facilitate services providers venturing into overseas markets. A total of 147 trade promotion activities are planned for 2014 with 45 programmes focused on services sectors targeting traditional and new growth markets. In 2013, contribution of services exports to Malaysia’s total exports of goods and services was 15.4 per cent (RM125.47 billion), increased by 1.1 per cent compared to 2012 (14.3 per cent to total exports of goods and services; RM117.01 billion).

As the Council is responsible to provide a problem-solving platform for services sector, YB Minister of International Trade and Industry encouraged and welcome feedback and views from services industries on issues relating to policies which contribute and further enhance the development of the services sector in the country.

Ministry of International Trade and Industry, Kuala Lumpur
10 April 2014

46th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting (AMM)

The 46th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting (AMM) was held  on 29 June 2013 in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei Darussalam.

At the side of the 46th AMM, Malaysia initiated an informal trilateral meeting on the haze situation in Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore. It was held at the Empire Hotel, Bandar Seri Begawan on 29 June 2013 and attended by YB Dato’ Sri Anifah Haji Aman, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Malaysia, H.E. Dr. R.M. Marty M. Natalegawa, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Indonesia and H.E. K. Shanmugam, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Singapore.

The Ministers had a frank, candid and constructive discussion on the recent problem caused by haze that affected many parts of the Peninsula Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore. Discussion was centred on the practical way forward on mitigating the risk of haze, including the expeditious ratification and operationalization of the ASEAN Transboundary Haze Pollution Agreement.    

The Ministers noted the improving situation in the affected areas in Sumatra, where these areas had reduced considerably from 16500 hectares to 4081 hectares. The Ministers also noted that as of 28 June 2013, the number of hotspots was reduced to 7 from 261, due to cloud seeding and water bomber operations undertaken by the Government of Indonesia as well as the favourable and precipitous weather condition.

The Ministers also agreed that further discussion on the haze issue would be taken up at the 46th AMM. In the spirit of ASEAN solidarity, the Ministers agreed that the rest of the ASEAN family would be updated and kept abreast on the issue surrounding the three countries.

YB Dato’ Sri Anifah Haji Aman also had a bilateral meeting with H.E. Wunna Maung Lwin, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Myanmar. During the discussion, YB Dato’ Sri Anifah Haji Aman conveyed Malaysia’s deep concern on the on-going inter-communal violence in the country as it has also affected the neighbouring countries, including Malaysia. He urged the Myanmar Government to take immediate actions and necessary measures to bring the perpetrators of violence to justice in a fair and transparent manner. He also sought the agreement of the Myanmar Government to allow the OIC Contact Group to visit Myanmar and be given fullest cooperation in fulfilling its mandate.  


ASEAN – MALAYSIA National Secretariat

Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Malaysia


30 June 2013


ASEAN IN 2015'

Assalamu'alaikum and a very good afternoon.

1.         It gives me great pleasure to be with you today. I hope to be able, within the next few minutes, to share with you some of my thoughts, views and vision related to Malaysia's Chairmanship of ASEAN in 2015. I believe that this theme is fitting, given the historic responsibility that Malaysia will shoulder as we assume the chairmanship of ASEAN in 2015, when the ASEAN Community will be established. At the same time, I believe that this theme dovetails with the overall theme of this forum - 'ASEAN at a Crossroads – Towards a Common Future, Shared Prosperity and Regional Stability'.

2.         I mentioned that Malaysia's Chairmanship of ASEAN is a historic responsibility thrust upon us all. I do not use the term 'historic responsibility' lightly, for during that time:

2.1         Malaysia will have to lead the effort to develop a new post-2015 vision and action plan. This new vision and action plan will chart our collective cause and common destiny;

2.2         We will need to ensure that the action lines contained in the 'Roadmap for an ASEAN Community' (2009-2015) is implemented in the fullest possible measure. The achievement of these action lines is what is meant by 'establishing the ASEAN Community';

2.3         With our ASEAN partners, we must ensure that this ASEAN Community, the culmination of our founding fathers' collective vision, is felt and appreciated by all of our peoples.

Ladies and gentlemen,

3.         Before proceeding, I believe that it would be useful to outline briefly the regional scenario in the post-2015 period. History does not move in a straight line. From Kant we know that 'from the crooked timber of humanity, nothing straight was ever fashioned'. The best that we can do is to forecast the future by extrapolating current trends, which we assume will hold true in the medium term.

4.           On this basis, I believe that the most probable post-2015 scenario for our region is as follows:

4.1         Firstly, notwithstanding potential areas of conflict, our region will continue to experience general peace. The risk of armed conflict among members of ASEAN is so small so as to be negligible. The altercation between Cambodia and Thailand over the Preah Vihear temple in 2011 shows that, on the one hand, we should never ever take peace for granted. On the other hand, it proved that the culture of peace is well-entrenched in the region and that formal and informal regional structures to preserve peace are robust. At the same time, internal conflicts within countries of the region are a continued cause for concern, not only for the bloodshed caused, but also for their potential spill-over effects. A recent case is the violence targeted against Muslims in Myanmar. While unlikely to destabilise the whole region, conflicts such as these must be addressed if South East Asia is to experience true peace and therefore sustained growth. I believe that the Global Movement of Moderates proposed by the Prime Minister of Malaysia has a critical role to play in addressing internal conflicts in the region. In this connection, I am heartened that this initiative has been endorsed by ASEAN, and the principle of moderation has been identified as a key ASEAN value. Malaysia will continue to play a facilitative role in addressing these conflicts, should a request be made.

The South China Sea continues to command the attention of the media. For obvious reasons, this issue certainly is of concern to the international community. However, it is sufficient for me to say that my ASEAN and Chinese colleagues are working hard to ensure progress on the Code of Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (COC). The COC is the key instrument in ensuring the proper management of these vital sea lanes. At the same time, confidence building measures are proceeding apace.

4.2         Secondly, economically, South East Asia will continue to be vibrant and will continue to contribute significantly to global growth. Present evidence supports this. For example, according to the Asian Development Bank, our region was the only sub-region within Asia to experience accelerated growth year-on-year in 2012. Regional GDP is expected to grow by 5.4 percent this year and 5.7 percent in 2014. It is expected that growth will continue to be sustained by robust consumption, rising investment and increased interregional trade. The creation of the ASEAN Economic Community in 2015 will enlarge trade volumes within our region, which will help to diversify export markets;

4.3         Thirdly, ASEAN member states will continue to move towards greater political, economic and socio-cultural integration. More intense global economic competition means that countries of South East Asia have no choice but to integrate further. Only then can we have the necessary economies of scale, leverage on the size of our collective market and take advantage of each country's strengths. I also believe that there will continue to be appetite at the national level for further regional integration. However, we should never take public support for regional integration for granted. Regional economic integration will promote competition. Greater competition means that there will be winners and losers. In such a situation, those who lose may come together to derail the regional integration project. To avoid this from happening, governments must ensure that there are sufficient market flexibilities, that those who lose out are adequately compensated and explain that while there are those who are negatively affected, overall, regional integration produces overall gains for society as a whole;

4.4         Fourthly, ASEAN will continue to be at the heart of the evolving regional architecture. The major players in our region will continue to accept ASEAN's leadership role in regional institutions. At the same time, ASEAN will continue to promote a rules-based approach in managing inter-state relations in our region; and

4.5         Fifthly, but perhaps most importantly, the peoples of ASEAN will demand better governance, improved performance by governments and more democratic space. This is what I would call the 'New Politics of South East Asia'. All over the region, including in Malaysia, rising prosperity has resulted in an even more critical electorate. In our case, the government is well aware of this development. We have put in place various transformational programmes, emphasising of performance and delivery. It is therefore clear that for the regional integration process to progress further, it must ride on the wave of this development.

Ladies and gentlemen,

5.         For this reason, one of the main planks of Malaysia's Chairmanship of ASEAN in 2015 is the creation of a truly 'People-Centred ASEAN'. This will be a step-up from the ASEAN Charter which speaks of a 'People-Oriented ASEAN'. A 'People-Centred ASEAN' means that ASEAN will be an even more powerful vehicle for the realisation of our peoples' aspirations – good governance, transparency, higher standards of living, sustainable development, the empowerment of women and greater opportunity for all. A 'People-Centred ASEAN' also means the greater and deeper involvement of all sectors of society in ASEAN's work. It also means that ASEAN will no longer be the domain of the political and bureaucratic elites. An ASEAN which is people-centred will truly be 'an ASEAN for all'.

6.         But the demand for greater democratisation and more effective governance is not the only impulse for the creation of a 'People-Centred ASEAN'. There is a political and economic impulse as well. For the first four and-a-half decades or so, governments of the region have signed agreements, treaties. We have issued communiqués and statements. Progress has been achieved and an infrastructure for regional integration has been created.

7.         Moving forward however, it is clear that only the more direct involvement of the peoples of ASEAN will move the regional integration process forward. All of the instruments adopted will not be useful if various stakeholders do not take advantage of them, to promote trade, to better protect human rights and to help preserve the environment.

8.         What are the implications of a 'People-Centred ASEAN'?

8.1         It implies that governments will consult more closely than ever before with stakeholders on issues of concern to them – chambers of commerce on economic integration, human rights activists on promoting regional human rights instruments and youth groups on fostering stronger links among ASEAN youths;
8.2     It implies that at the Summit level, Leaders must meet, as a matter of course, with various groups such as Parliamentarians, youth groups and leaders of industries. These meetings must be substantive and inclusive;
8.3         It implies that ASEAN sectoral bodies must also institutionalise their meetings with their stakeholder groups;
8.4         It implies that stakeholder groups must be prepared to organise themselves.

9.         Involving stakeholder groups in ASEAN's activities requires not only for ASEAN documents to be circulated more widely, but the goals contained in these documents are expressed clearly. Only then can our stakeholders see clearly what ASEAN has on offer and act on them. I note that this has not always been the case. For example, in terms of promoting Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) development, one of ASEAN's present action lines in the Roadmap for an ASEAN Community is to 'promote best practices in SME development, including SME financing'. Without clear and precise targets, action lines such as these are mere aspirations. They are not concrete targets.

10.      For this reason, I believe that in the future, our aspirations must be expressed in more concrete terms. They must be targets and goals rather than action lines. They must be expressed in a manner consistent with the principles of SMART – specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound.

11.        At the same time, targets and goals must be organised in such a manner that would facilitate their implementation. As you are all aware, at present, ASEAN's action lines are grouped into three broad clusters, or 'pillars' in ASEAN-speak. These pillars are the political-security, economic and socio-cultural. For one reason or another, environmental issues are included in the socio-cultural pillar! This means that there is no synergy between environmental issues and other issues in that pillar. Further, attention to environmental issues is diffused. I believe that there environmental issues deserve a stand-alone pillar. Only then can we strengthen regional cooperation in critical issues such as climate change and the haze problem.

Ladies and gentlemen,

12.      Our vision of ASEAN in the future must be of an organisation which reflects the dreams of our peoples, is at ease with itself, outward-looking and hence at peace with the wider world.

13.      To support efforts to realise this vision requires that ASEAN institutions, including the ASEAN Secretariat, is sufficiently funded and resourced. At present, each ASEAN member country contributes US$1.6 million for the running of the Secretariat. This means that the total budget is US$16 million. There are now more than 1,000 ASEAN related meetings a year; ASEAN is at the heart of the evolving regional architecture; the list of countries requesting to be more engaged with ASEAN grows ever longer – reflecting the burden of expectation on us. Juxtaposed against these, US$16 million is a small sum. ASEAN's institutions need to be strengthened. The creation of strong, robust and efficient ASEAN institutions will be a priority for Malaysia.

Ladies and gentlemen,

14.      Let me address head-on some of the common criticisms made against ASEAN.

15.      A common criticism made against ASEAN is that implementation lags far behind aspiration. Indeed, many here in this room will dismiss any progressive and ambitious vision of ASEAN for this reason. However, the facts on the ground refute this argument. Take the example of the action lines constituting the ASEAN Economic Community Blueprint. It is estimated that by the 31st of December 2015, fully 90 to 95 percent of these action lines would have been implemented. This is a significant figure by any standard. Of course, the progress of implementation is uneven, but on those aspirations which matter, great progress has been achieved. This is progress of which those involved in can be very proud of.

16.      At the same time, it must be acknowledged that ASEAN has traditionally set a very high level of ambition for ourselves. History is replete with examples. But I want to recall just one, namely that we had brought forward the establishment of the ASEAN Community from 2020 to 2015. This was done while retaining all of the targets.

17.      Another criticism made against ASEAN is that ASEAN's achievements and significance is not known to the general public. Certainly, the lack of ASEAN awareness is a major obstacle towards fulfilling the vision of a 'People-Centred ASEAN'. A study undertaken by the ASEAN Secretariat entitled 'ASEAN Community Building Efforts' published in October last year showed a very low level of ASEAN awareness amongst Malaysians. It showed that only 34 percent of Malaysians have heard of the ASEAN Community. In comparison, 96 percent of Laotians know of the ASEAN Community. It is therefore my intention to rectify this situation. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs intends to embark on a very aggressive campaign to promote ASEAN in Malaysia. Towards this end:

17.1      We will have a much larger budget dedicated to ASEAN outreach efforts;

17.2      We must have different approaches for the different segments of society, businesses, activists and youths. We must speak to each segment of society in a language that they identify with and which appeals to their interests;

17.3      We must also use means and approaches that appeal to the hearts of the peoples of ASEAN. For example, at a seminar organised to commemorate ASEAN Day last year, I spoke of a reality TV series on a subject of common interest to ASEAN youths, such as how they prepare for exams or cope with school life. The appointment of Goodwill Ambassadors from among celebrities popular among youths is another means of achieving this.

Ladies and gentlemen,

18.      In the course of this speech, I have attempted to sketch out a vision of Malaysia's Chairmanship of ASEAN in 2015. I have tried to outline our dreams and aspirations, fears and challenges. Where necessary, some details have been given. Let me leave you with a summary of what Malaysia hopes to achieve:

18.1      A 'People-centred ASEAN' in which ASEAN is a vehicle for the achievement of the potentials of our people;
18.2      A clear expression of ASEAN's goals in the post-2015 period; and
18.3      Strong and robust institutions to help us achieve our aims, goals and aspirations.

19.      I hope that all of you here will join me in this collective endeavour as Malaysia fulfils our historic responsibility.

Thank you.


The 10th ASEAN-Canada Dialogue was held on 6-7 May 2013 in Toronto, Canada. The Meeting was co-chaired by H.E. Mr. Chee Wee Kiong, Second Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Singapore and H.E. Mr. Peter McGovern, Assistant Deputy Minister, Asia and Chief Trade Commissioner, Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada. The Meeting noted with satisfaction the various meaningful activities conducted last year to celebrate the 35th Anniversary of the ASEAN-Canada Dialogue Partnership in 2012.

The Meeting reviewed ASEAN-Canada cooperation and took note the progress of the implementation of the ASEAN- Canada Plan of Action to Implement the Joint Declaration on ASEAN-Canada Enhanced Partnership (2010-2015), including the new achievements in human rights, trade and investment, and research cooperation.

The Meeting welcomed the adoption of the Terms of Reference of the ASEAN-Canada Enhanced Partnership Program at the 1st ASEAN-Canada Joint Coordination Committee (JCC) Meeting held on 3 April 2013 at the ASEAN Secretariat. The new Program is established following the commitment made by Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs of CAD$10 million over three years towards ASEAN-related projects. The Meeting also welcomed Canada’s interest in advancing its cooperation in the region on several areas of cooperation such as small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), entrepreneurship, global health, science and technology as well as innovation.

The Meeting also had an extensive exchange of views and discussion on various regional/global and economic issues of common interest, namely regional architecture, regional trade and economic cooperation, non-proliferation, disaster risk reduction and response, energy, food security and infrastructure. Both sides agreed to enhance cooperation and partnership in these areas and further agreed to convene the 11th ASEAN-Canada Dialogue in Singapore in 2014.

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