13 December 2018

Singapore and Malaysia in sovereignty spat

In maritime dispute, firm action will be taken to protect territory and sovereignty if Malaysian vessels continue to intrude, says Singapore.


Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan called on Malaysian government vessels to ‘cease their intrusions and return to the status quo’ which existed before 25 Oct 2018.

Sovereignty violated

On that date, Malaysia issued a federal government declaration that would extend the Johor Baru Port limits into Singapore's territorial waters. Since then, Mr Khaw said, there have been 14 intrusions by Malaysian vessels into Singapore's waters. As a result, Singapore had also decided to expand its own port limits in response, but only within its own area. He said, ‘our security agencies will continue to patrol the area, and respond to unauthorised activities on the ground. They have so far responded with restraint against aggressive actions by the Malaysian Government vessels.’ Mr Khaw explained, ‘Singapore cannot allow our sovereignty to be violated, or new facts on the ground to be created. Therefore, if it becomes necessary, we will not hesitate to take firm actions against intrusions and unauthorised activities in our waters to protect our territory and sovereignty.’

Out of the blue

Since at least 1999, Singapore has been exercising its jurisdiction in the waters now covered by the recent extension of the Johor Baru Port limits,’ he said. Mr Khaw stated, ‘Malaysia has never laid claim to these waters, or protested our actions there. Now, out of the blue, Malaysia is claiming these territorial waters that belong to Singapore.’ This he said was done without any prior consultations, adding ‘Malaysia is seeking to alter unilaterally the longstanding status quo in the area. This is a blatant provocation and a serious violation of our sovereignty and international law.’ He concluded,  ‘nevertheless, I remain optimistic. We still seek good bilateral relations, and hope we can work together to find an amicable solution to these issues.’

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