KL's gesture of friendship

I used to pass by this sign with great disdain.  Sometimes, the patriotic part of me called on me to spray paint on that ridiculous signboard.  Finally this signboard has been removed.  Let's toast to an eternal friendship between Singapore and Malaysia!






KL's gesture of friendship


Thursday • August 26, 2004


Singapore-Malaysia ties are on the upswing and one sign of this was taken off its hinges to make the signal clearer.


The sign is a 20-metre "Welcome to Malaysia" board at the Keretapi Tanah Melayu's (KTM) Tanjong Pagar railway station. Though in the heart of Singapore, the land and the station belong to Malaysia.


And since the 1980s, it has stood out as a reminder of less-than-cordial patches in cross-Causeway relations.


In 1998, Singapore moved its Custom Immigration and Quarantine facilities from Tanjong Pagar to Woodlands, expecting Malaysia to do the same. But when that did not happen, it became a point of friction.


But things have changed.


Malaysia's High Commissioner to Singapore, Mr N Parameswaran, said the sign had been removed to improve ties.


"We want to remove whatever irritations there are, however small they may be," he said.


The instruction to remove the sign came from Kuala Lumpur. And Today understands that a more positive sign -- possibly exhorting Singaporeans to visit Malaysia -- might replace the old one.


"We are sincere about wanting to bring down old walls," said Mr Parameswaran.


Alluding to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's call to citizens to write Singapore's next chapter with him, the envoy said: "Let's work on the next chapter in the Malaysia-Singapore story. It needs both of us." He hoped that the "gesture" of friendship would be reciprocated. — Raymond Andrew