MM Lee and Nik Aziz meet

Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew (left) met with Datuk Nik Aziz Nik Mat for the first time on Sunday. — PHOTO: ZAOBAO

By Reme Ahmad, The Straits Times

KOTA BARU (Kelantan) – TWO veteran politicians met for the first time on Sunday in the capital of the Malaysian state of Kelantan. Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew met with Datuk Nik Aziz Nik Mat for an hour at Kota Darul Naim, Kelantan's government complex that houses the office of the chief minister and the state assembly hall.

Datuk Nik Aziz is the state's Menteri Besar as well as the spiritual leader of the opposition Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS), which won control of Kelantan state in 1990.

Mr Lee, who is turning 86, arrived from Penang on Saturday evening, and is in Kuantan, the capital of Pahang state, today for the last leg of his eight-day visit to Malaysia.

Mr Lee's press secretary Yeong Yoon Ying said that the Minister Mentor and Mr Nik Aziz spoke about strengthening ties between Kelantan and Singapore. Mr Lee also 'shared Singapore's experience in implementing the English language policy and the importance of English in global affairs', said Madam Yeong.

Yesterday, the Minister Mentor also toured Kota Baru by car, and met with Datuk Husam Musa, Kelantan's Executive Councillor in Charge of Finance and a former PAS vice-president.

Mr Nik Aziz, Kelantan's chief minister since 1990, is revered in the state and respected in Malaysia for living a simple life and running a clean government.

The Menteri Besar said that he would like to thank Mr Lee, 'a leader who is respected internationally', for coming to Kelantan and for inviting him to Singapore. He said he declined due to health reasons.

The opposition party PAS, with nearly a million members, is the biggest party in Malaysia after Umno, which is part of the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition. PAS is a member of the three-party Pakatan Rakyat alliance which controls four of Malaysia's 13 states and more than a third of the seats in the federal Parliament.

Mr Lee had asked how PAS would view Singapore if it comes to power, said Mr Nik Aziz. His reply was that he would treat everyone 'the same, as can be seen in Kelantan'.

In a short speech, Mr Nik Aziz said Singapore is known for its anti-corruption stance and 'a champion of democracy'.

“Singapore is also very strict in keeping the city clean, and these aspects are good things that we can emulate,” he said.

Tharman in his speech yesterday said that he hoped Singapore and Kelantan could build on their relations.

“Whatever happens in Malaysia politically, we would like to maintain the best of relationships between Singapore and all the respective parties in Malaysia,” he said.