Don’t let ego destroy ties with Singapore, Anifah advises

Former foreign minister Anifah Aman. (Bernama pic)

PETALING JAYA: The former foreign minister has warned the government against resorting to provocative acts or allowing uninformed comments on matters concerning foreign relations amid the continuing tension between Malaysia and Singapore.

Anifah Aman said he too had faced challenges in managing bilateral ties with neighbouring countries during his tenure but that those challenges were overcome calmly and effectively.

“Our neighbours often praised our efficiency and diplomatic wisdom. Indeed, this was the result of negotiations and diplomatic efforts by Wisma Putra officials who worked without counting the hours,” he said in a statement on the recent developments between Malaysia and Singapore.

He said Wisma Putra played a crucial role in resolving complex issues in the world of diplomacy and that the results of negotiations by the officials would be taken to the foreign minister before the prime minister was called upon to make a decision.

“In the event that a compromise cannot be reached, efforts will be made to take the issue to an international tribunal. Such efforts are carried out with tact and wisdom.

“We should not simply resort to any provocative action or allow anyone without information or credentials to make comments without thinking of the consequences.”

It is uncertain if he was referring to Singapore’s decision to postpone a bilateral meeting earlier this week after an alleged intrusion by Johor Menteri Besar Osman Sapian into Singapore territorial waters.

Osman denied he had intruded into Singapore waters, saying he was merely there to see how the Malaysian security forces were doing.

Anifah added that in the world of diplomacy, multilateral issues required cooperation with other countries and that Malaysia valued this cooperation, especially with its Asean neighbours.

He said Singapore had always been a close ally of Malaysia in multilateral and international issues, where the two countries had a lot of common values.

“These values and elements need to be taken into consideration in maintaining healthy diplomatic ties. Do not let our ego destroy what has been built all this while.”

Ties between the two countries have taken a hit since last October, when Malaysia declared it was extending the limits of its Johor Bahru port into waters Singapore claims to be its own.

Singapore extended its own port limits on Dec 6.

Officials from the two countries have met in an attempt to resolve the dispute.

Malaysia and Singapore are also involved in a dispute over the use of airspace following the introduction of the Instrument Landing System (ILS) for Seletar Airport in Singapore.

Malaysia said the ILS encroached into its airspace, prevented the construction of tall buildings in Pasir Gudang and subjected the Pasir Gudang Port to higher risks and multiple restrictions.