Singapore has been dragged into Malaysia's domestic politics -- again.
It all started with this: A senior PAS (Parti Islam Se-Malaysia) leader put Umno and its allies in Barisan Nasional (BN) on blast on March 9 by saying Singapore was more developed because it was never ruled by Umno and its allies in BN.
As reported by Free Malaysia Today, PAS vice-president Amar Nik Abdullah was quoted as saying by PAS publication, Harakahdaily: “Which is more developed, Singapore or Malaysia? Surely it is Singapore."
"I’m sorry to be so direct in asking, but is Umno in Singapore? Is BN in Singapore? No."
“This means without Umno, it is easier to develop the country, so much so that many Malaysians cross the causeway every day to work in Singapore.”
Amar is the Kelantan deputy menteri besar, or chief minister.
His comments were made in Benut, Pontian.
Why he said it
Johor state elections are happening soon.
PAS is contesting 15 seats under the Perikatan Nasional (PN) banner in Johor.
Amar was trying to make a point that PN, which PAS is a part of, can better develop Johor.
He also said it was a given for any government to develop a state or country, as that was what it is supposed to do.
He added: “So, we do not promise that we will build roads and bridges if we form the government because that is every government’s duty.”
He also said many non-Muslims were supporting PAS because they wanted good leaders who were not just focused on development.
What Barisan Nasional said in response
Amar's assertions has since been met with a response by a BN leader on March 10.
Johor BN chief Hasni Mohammad clapped back and said Singapore could be more developed if it was led by Umno, according to Malaysiakini.
Hasni said, according to Oriental Daily: "If Singapore had Umno, it would be more developed than it is now."
Umno would be as strong as PAP
Hasni added that Umno would be as strong as the People's Action Party (PAP), the ruling party in Singapore.
Hasni also said Malaysians crossing to work in Singapore daily are not limited to Johoreans.
His point was that Malaysians from Kedah and Kelantan, both states that are governed by PAS, also need to go to Singapore to work, because employment opportunities are not as robust back home.
The war of words as Malaysian political parties gear up for elections is expected to produce more gems.
Follow and listen to our podcast here