Nga Kor Ming, a Malaysian politician and vice chair of the Democratic Action Party (DAP), said he did not mean to offend anyone with a comment he made on Oct. 28.
At a fundraising dinner in Muar, Johor, Nga boasted that if the Pakatan Harapan coalition took power in the upcoming Malaysian general election, Malaysians would no longer go to Singapore to work.
Instead, Singaporeans would go to Malaysia for work, he said according to Malaysiakini.
Nga warns Malaysians against voting for BN
DAP is a component party of Pakatan Harapan, which opposes the incumbent Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition.
Nga claimed that if BN won, Malaysia's economy would deteriorate:
"If BN wins, the exchange rate between the US dollar and ringgit will become US$1 to RM5 (S$1.49) and Singapore dollar to ringgit will become S$1 to RM3.50. The youth in Johor will be forced to work in Singapore.
If this happens, the furniture industry in Muar will not be able to hire locals. Johoreans will wake up at 5am to cross into Singapore for work and return home at night."
He said that due to Anwar Ibrahim's experience as a former finance minister, Pakatan Harapan could boost Malaysia's economy to the point where Singaporeans would want to work in Malaysia instead.
"So, we have to change the government. Then, we can ask Singaporeans to come to Malaysia to work, not the other way around," Nga said.
Anwar is the leader of PKR, another component party of Pakatan Harapan, and the prime ministerial candidate for the coalition.
Did not mean to cause offence
On Nov. 1, Nga clarified his statement and said he meant Singaporeans would want to work in Malaysia if the government was corruption-free and could offer better job opportunities.
Malaysiakini reported that Nga blamed "corruption", among other things, for Malaysia's economic woes.
He added there was "absolutely no intention" to offend Singaporeans, and that Malaysia and Singapore should work together for the well-being of the peoples of the two countries, and Southeast Asia at large.
Top image from Nga Kor Ming's Facebook page.