Putin, Lagarde among Dr Mahathir’s itinerary in Singapore

The PM will be conducting bilateral visit for the 1st 2 days, followed by the 33rd Asean Summit and Related Summits

By P PREM KUMAR / Pic By BLOOMBERG

A PACKED schedule with meetings with global movers await Prime Minister (PM) Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad as he arrives in Singapore today for a four-day working visit. 

The visit will kill two birds with one stone, where Dr Mahathir will be conducting a bilateral visit for the first two days, followed by the 33rd Asean Summit and Related Summits here.

This would be Dr Mahathir’s first working visit to the island republic since the historic 14th General Election, and also the first time in 15 years that Dr Mahathir has attended an Asean Summit.

The last Asean Summit attended by Dr Mahathir was in 2003 in Bali, before he left office the same year.

Besides back-to-back meetings and events, Dr Mahathir is scheduled to have four-eyed meetings with world heavyweights, including Russian President Vladimir Putin and International Monetary Fund MD Christine Lagarde.

Dr Mahathir is also expected to meet Singapore’s Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong over a private dinner and hold bilateral meetings with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrisson and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

Accompanying the prime minister is his wife Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Mohd Ali, Foreign Affairs Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah, Economic Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali and International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Darell Leiking.

The prime minister is scheduled to receive Putin tomorrow in Shangri- La Hotel on Orange Grove Road, the official accommodation venue for Dr Mahathir and his entourage.

Dr Mahathir is expected to discuss with Putin on Malaysia Airlines’ flight MH17 tragedy and peace in the Korean Peninsula region, said Foreign Affairs Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah.

He said maintaining peace in the Korean Peninsula will be Malaysia’s primary focus during the meeting. “Russia can definitely play a role in maintaining peace in the Korean Peninsula, which would also be beneficial to the region including Malaysia,” he told reporters in Singapore yesterday.

The Korean Peninsula is located in East Asia, housing North Korea and South Korea. Tensions remain high between the two countries as both want to bring a unified peninsula under its own rule, while a heavy military presence is still stationed at the border.

On MH17, Saifuddin said the tragedy could be a part of the discussion, but there are no changes in Malaysia’s stand to await the full report from the MH17 joint investigation team.

“Our position have not changed, but it could also be discussed during the meeting,” he said.

Putin is expected to attend the Asean-Russia summit on Wednesday, on the sidelines of the Asean Summit and Related Summits in Suntec Singapore International Convention and Exhibition Centre.

Dr Mahathir and Putin have exchanged several visits to respective administrative capitals during the former’s first term as PM between 1981 and 2003.

Upon arrival today, Dr Mahathir will be accorded a state welcoming ceremony and guard of honour at The Istana, followed by a courtesy call from Singaporean President Halimah Yacob.

He will later hold a bilateral meeting with Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, followed by an official lunch hosted by Lee.

Dr Mahathir and Dr Siti Hasmah will also unveil a tropical orchid named for them at The Istana — Dendrobium Mahathir Siti Hasmah.

The PM will then attend a high tea with the Malaysian diaspora in Singapore, before attending the Asean Business Awards 2018 gala dinner, where he will be handing over the awards for 13 regional champions.

Tomorrow, Dr Mahathir is scheduled to visit the College of Medicine Building in the Health Ministry building, followed by a session with his classmates from King Edward VII College of Medicine.

Dr Mahathir and Dr Siti Hasmah will be conferred an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws and Distinguished Alumni Service Award respectively by the National University of Singapore.

The PM will also be conferred an honorary distinguished patron award by the Asean Federation of Engineering Organisation.

The entourage is expected to leave Singapore for Malaysia on Thursday at 9pm.