Meet postponed after visit

M’sia-S’pore talks de­layed over al­leged bor­der tres­pass by Johor MB

The Star Malaysia - - Nation - By HEMANANTHANI SIVANANDAM & RE­MAR NORDIN news­[email protected]­

PE­TAL­ING JAYA: The For­eign Min­istry has con­firmed that the 14th Meet­ing of Joint Min­is­te­rial Com­mit­tee for Iskan­dar Malaysia (JMCIM) has been postponed fol­low­ing Johor Men­tri Be­sar’s visit to the Johor Baru port on Wed­nes­day.

The meet­ing was orig­i­nally sched­uled for to­day.

“The rea­son for the post­pone­ment, as con­veyed by Sin­ga­pore via a Diplo­matic Note dated Jan 11, was due to Datuk Os­man Sapian’s visit to the Johor Baru port in Malaysian ter­ri­to­rial wa­ters on Jan 9,” Wisma Pu­tra said in a state­ment yes­ter­day.

The min­istry how­ever noted that Eco­nomic Af­fairs Min­is­ter Datuk Seri Mo­hamed Azmin Ali would still be meet­ing Sin­ga­pore’s Na­tional De­vel­op­ment Min­is­ter Lawrence Wong and For­eign Min­is­ter Dr. Vi­vian Balakr­ish­nan to dis­cuss other bi­lat­eral mat­ters be­tween the neigh­bours.

“This demon­strates that ties be­tween the two coun­tries re­main strong.

“The meet­ing will form the next pos­i­tive step for­ward after the fruit­ful bi­lat­eral meet­ing held be­tween the For­eign Min­is­ters of Malaysia and Sin­ga­pore on Jan 8.

“Cur­rently, both For­eign Min­is­ters are in com­mu­ni­ca­tion and agreed that both sides should re­main calm and not sen­sa­tion­alise the mat­ter,” said Wisma Pu­tra.

It added that the min­istry is con­fi­dent that the cur­rent mo­men­tum of en­gage­ment be­tween Malaysia and Sin­ga­pore will con­tinue.

Pu­tra­jaya also re­it­er­ated its com­mit­ment to strengthen bi­lat­eral re­la­tions with Sin­ga­pore based on equal­ity and mu­tual re­spect, said Wisma Pu­tra.

Mean­while in Johor Baru, Os­man claimed that his visit was noth­ing more than an ex­cuse for the is­land repub­lic to post­pone the an­nual JMCIM meet­ing.

He said that the meet­ing was pur­posely postponed for them to bring out other is­sues after fac­ing ob­jec­tion from Malaysia re­gard­ing the ter­ri­to­rial wa­ters and air space dis­pute in Pasir Gu­dang.

He added that his visit on Wed­nes­day to the area was noth­ing more than a reg­u­lar visit to the MV Pe­do­man crew, which was sta­tioned within Malaysian ter­ri­to­rial wa­ters.

“I have no in­ten­tion to pro­voke any­one; it is my usual visit to send food sup­plies to civil ser­vants who are work­ing on the MV Pe­do­man, be­cause we have sent sup­plies such as rice, sugar and oil ev­ery two weeks.

“There are 23 crew­men on­board that ves­sel, and they can­not go any­where to find sup­plies, so that is why I de­cided to go there,” he told re­porters after launch­ing the Lantern Fes­ti­val for Chi­nese New Year at Ta­man Impian Emas, here, on Satur­day.

He added that he had ev­ery right as the Men­tri Be­sar to of­fer his help aside from get­ting a clearer pic­ture of the dis­pute that has been drag­ging on for quite some time.

“This is just my ac­tion as the head of the state gov­ern­ment, to see the work that has been done by our civil ser­vants and to ex­press my grat­i­tude to them.

“The wa­ters that I en­tered are still within our bor­ders, and it is my right to go and visit the area,” he said.

Os­man added that his visit to MV Pe­do­man was also made known to For­eign Min­is­ter Datuk Sai­fud­din Ab­dul­lah as well as Deputy For­eign Min­is­ter Se­na­tor Datuk Marzuki Yahya.

He also said that, as of now, he has yet to re­ceive any of­fi­cial no­ti­fi­ca­tion from Azmin and Sai­fud­din on the JMCIM ad­journ­ment.

“I have only re­ceived a What­sapp mes­sage through the sec­re­tary­gen­eral from the Sin­ga­pore for­eign min­istry say­ing that the meet­ing has been postponed,” he said.

Mean­while a Sin­ga­pore For­eign Af­fairs Min­istry spokesman, in a state­ment, said the coun­try sent a diplo­matic note to Malaysia on Jan 11 to protest the unau­tho­rised visit by Os­man to Ma­rine Depart­ment ves­sel Pe­do­man.

They claimed the ship was an­chored il­le­gally in Sin­ga­pore Ter­ri­to­rial Wa­ters off Tuas.

“Such a provoca­tive act went against the spirit of the agree­ment reached a day ear­lier by Sin­ga­pore’s For­eign Af­fairs Min­is­ter Dr Vi­vian Balakr­ish­nan and Sai­fud­din Ab­dul­lah, to re­solve bi­lat­eral is­sues in a calm and con­struc­tive man­ner.

“The in­tru­sion cre­ated an at­mos­phere un­con­ducive to hold the JMCIM, lead­ing to Sin­ga­pore’s de­ci­sion to post­pone the meet­ing, which Malaysia had agreed to.

Nev­er­the­less, Sin­ga­pore wel­comes Mo­hamed Azmin Ali’s ini­tia­tive to make a bi­lat­eral visit.”

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