Singapore's Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan urges Malaysia to 'cease intrusions'

SINGAPORE: Singapore’s Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan has spoken to his Malaysian counterpart Saifuddin Abdullah on the phone about Malaysia’s purported extension of the Johor Bahru port limits. 

He stressed the “urgent need” for Malaysia to “cease these intrusions” to avoid escalating tensions on the ground, said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) in a press statement on Wednesday (Dec 5).

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The press statement is reproduced in full below: 

Minister for Foreign Affairs Dr. Vivian Balakrishnan spoke with Malaysian Minister of Foreign Affairs Dato’ Saifuddin Abdullah on 5 December 2018 via telephone.

Minister Balakrishnan raised the issue of Malaysia’s recent purported extension of the Johor Bahru Port Limits (JPL), which encroach 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. Minister 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.

Minister Balakrishnan also referred to the discussions on airspace issues between Minister for Transport Khaw Boon Wan and Malaysian Minister of Transport Anthony Loke Siew Fook, as well as Minister 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.

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Minister Balakrishnan said 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.


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