Cease intrusions into our waters, Singapore tells Putrajaya

Singapore says Malaysia’s recent ‘purported extension’ of the Johor Bahru port limits has encroached into Singapore territorial waters off Tuas. (Johorport.com pic)

PETALING JAYA: Singapore has told Putrajaya to “cease intrusions” into the island republic’s waters and to respect international laws.

Singapore’s foreign ministry said in a statement today that it had also called for constructive discussion on this as well as Putrajaya’s complaint that Singapore-bound flights were intruding into Malaysian skies.

Vivian Balakrishnan.

According to the statement, Singapore Foreign Affairs Minister Dr Vivian Balakrishnan relayed this message when he called Malaysian Foreign Affairs Minister Saifuddin Abdullah today.

It said Balakrishnan raised the issue of Malaysia’s recent “purported extension” of the Johor Bahru port limits (JPL), which, it said, encroached into Singapore territorial waters off Tuas.

“Minister Balakrishnan noted that the JPL now extends beyond even the limits of Malaysia’s territorial sea claim in the area, as set out in Malaysia’s own 1979 map, which Singapore has never accepted.

“Minister Balakrishnan said that despite Singapore’s diplomatic protests, there had been a series of provocative intrusions by Malaysian government vessels into Singapore territorial waters off Tuas.”

It said Balakrishnan “stressed the urgent need for Malaysia to cease these intrusions so as to comply with international law and to avoid escalating tensions on the ground”.

The statement said Balakrishnan also referred to the discussions on airspace issues between Singapore Minister for Transport Khaw Boon Wan and Malaysian Transport Minister Loke Siew Fook, as well as Loke’s public comments on the issue.

“Minister Balakrishnan emphasised that Singapore respected Malaysia’s sovereignty. Minister Balakrishnan said that it was in the interest of both countries to ensure the safety of civil aviation over our skies. Any proposal should ensure that the safety and efficiency of civilian air traffic was not compromised, and remained in accordance with ICAO standards, processes, and procedures.”

Loke had said that Malaysia was not against the development of Seletar Airport in Singapore, but could not allow the instrument landing system of the airport operating within southern Johor airspace.

The Singapore statement said Balakrishnan told Saifuddin that Singapore and Malaysia should continue to discuss these issues constructively and “emphasised the importance of maintaining a good bilateral relationship between close neighbours and compliance with international law”.