M’sia’s ac­tions west of Tuas vi­o­late S’pore’s sovereignty

The New Paper - - NEWS - ADRIAN LIM, PO­LIT­I­CAL COR­RE­SPON­DENT

Min­is­ter tells Malaysian coun­ter­part that ‘provoca­tive in­tru­sions’ into ter­ri­to­rial wa­ters must stop

Sin­ga­pore told Malaysia yes­ter­day to stop its “provoca­tive in­tru­sions” into the Repub­lic’s ter­ri­to­rial wa­ters off Tuas as the dis­agree­ments be­tween the two coun­tries ap­peared to sharpen.

In turn, Malaysia lodged two protest notes with Sin­ga­pore, ob­ject­ing to the new flight pro­ce­dures that will be im­ple­mented for Sele­tar Air­port next month and as­sert­ing that the new Jo­hor Baru port lim­its were within its own ter­ri­to­rial wa­ters – a claim that Sin­ga­pore had re­jected ear­lier.

For­eign Af­fairs Min­is­ter Vi­vian Balakr­ish­nan out­lined Sin­ga­pore’s stance in a phone call to his Malaysian coun­ter­part Sai­fud­din Ab­dul­lah and stressed there was an ur­gent need to avoid es­ca­lat­ing ten­sions on the ground and to com­ply with in­ter­na­tional law, Sin­ga­pore’s Min­istry of For­eign Af­fairs (MFA) said in a state­ment.

These de­vel­op­ments came a day af­ter sim­mer­ing dis­putes be­tween Sin­ga­pore and Malaysia over ter­ri­to­rial wa­ters and airspace man­age­ment came to light.

Nei­ther side took a step back yes­ter­day. Malaysian Trans­port Min­is­ter An­thony Loke said Sin­ga­pore’s claims that the new Jo­hor Baru port lim­its en­croached into Sin­ga­pore wa­ters were in­ac­cu­rate.

Malaysian Prime Min­is­ter Ma­hathir Mo­hamad also said that Malaysia was still within its own wa­ters with the ex­ten­sion.

Re­fut­ing this, the Min­istry of Trans­port (MOT) said that Sin­ga­pore’s ter­ri­to­rial wa­ters ex­tend west­ward of its cur­rent port lim­its around Tuas.

“Ac­cord­ingly, the pur­ported ex­ten­sion of the Jo­hor Baru port lim­its en­croaches into Sin­ga­pore’s ter­ri­to­rial wa­ters in the area and is a se­ri­ous vi­o­la­tion of Sin­ga­pore’s sovereignty and in­ter­na­tional law,” the MOT spokesman added.

The ex­ten­sion has re­sulted in ves­sels from the Malaysian Mar­itime En­force­ment Agency and Ma­rine De­part­ment Malaysia mak­ing re­peated in­cur­sions into Sin­ga­pore’s wa­ters over the past two weeks.

Dur­ing his call to Datuk Sai­fud­din, Dr Balakr­ish­nan also touched on the dis­cus­sions on airspace is­sues be­tween Trans­port Min­is­ter Khaw Boon Wan and Mr Loke.

Two days ago, cit­ing sovereignty, Mr Loke had said Malaysia in­tends to re­claim the man­age­ment of the airspace over South­ern Jo­hor, which has been delegated to Sin­ga­pore. Mr Khaw had said man­age­ment of skies had noth­ing to do with sovereignty.

Em­pha­sis­ing that Sin­ga­pore re­spected Malaysia’s sovereignty, Dr Balakr­ish­nan also told Mr Sai­fud­din that it was in the “in­ter­est of both coun­tries to en­sure the safety of civil avi­a­tion over our skies”.

Dr Balakr­ish­nan also told his coun­ter­part “that Sin­ga­pore and Malaysia should con­tinue to dis­cuss these is­sues con­struc­tively”.

adri­[email protected]

TNP FILE PHOTO

For­eign Af­fairs Min­is­ter Vi­vian Balakr­ish­nan.

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