S’pore disagrees with M’sia’s proposal to ‘cease & desist’ sending assets into disputed area

MFA says M'sia should return to the status quo before M'sia unilaterally extended its port limits on Oct. 25.

Kayla Wong | December 8, 2018 @ 01:18 am

It’s a “No” from Singapore.

A proposal by Malaysia for both countries to “cease and desist from sending assets into the disputed area” has been turned down by Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) on Friday, Dec. 7.

Malaysian Foreign Affairs Minister Saifuddin Abdullah said on Friday night that Malaysia had proposed to Singapore that both countries “cease and desist” from sending assets into what it called a “disputed area” from midnight on Dec. 8.

Singapore will respond in due course

Singapore “will respond in due course”, MFA said, after it received Malaysia’s diplomatic note through Singapore’s high commissioner in Kuala Lumpur.

MFA said in a Friday evening statement that Singapore does not agree with Malaysia’s suggestion.

It also said Malaysian government vessels should stop provocative violations of Singapore’s sovereignty and return to the status quo before Oct. 25, 2018.

MFA: Ready to discuss

Here’s MFA’s statement in full:

“Singapore has received Malaysia’s diplomatic note of 7 December 2018 and will respond in due course.

Singapore remains ready to discuss this issue with Malaysia in a constructive manner in the spirit of preserving our important bilateral relationship.

However, Singapore does not agree with Malaysia’s proposal for both countries to cease and desist from sending assets into the disputed area.

As Minister for Foreign Affairs Vivian Balakrishnan told Malaysian Minister Saifuddin Abdullah on 5 December 2018, Malaysian Government vessels have repeatedly intruded into Singapore Territorial Waters following the purported extension of the port limits of Johor Bahru Port on 25 October 2018.

Malaysian Government vessels should forthwith cease these provocative violations of Singapore sovereignty and return to the status quo ante before 25 October 2018, without prejudice to our respective positions on maritime boundary claims in the area.

Attempts to create facts on the ground add nothing to Malaysia’s legal case and are unhelpful for an amicable resolution of our maritime boundary issues.”

Ng Eng Hen strongly cautions Malaysians to leave our waters

Malaysia’s proposal was made known a few hours after Singapore’s Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen warned Malaysia to retreat.

In his first comments on the dispute, Ng wrote in a Facebook post on Friday evening, Dec. 7, that Singapore has been patrolling its territorial waters at Tuas for “20 years or more”.

He added that the intrusions by Malaysian vessels are “serious violations of Singapore’s sovereignty”, before ending his post by “strongly” cautioning violators to leave our waters.

His post accompanying the video reads:

“For 20 years or more, the Republic of Singapore Navy and Police Coast Guard ships have patrolled our Singapore Territorial Waters at Tuas. Out of nowhere, Malaysian government vessels now claim these waters as theirs and have been continually intruding since November.

These are serious violations of Singapore’s sovereignty. Our security forces have acted with restraint despite continuing intrusions and provocations. Singaporeans are peace-loving, but I strongly caution violators to leave Singapore territorial waters.”

Ongoing developments

Friday saw new developments to the ongoing maritime territorial dispute off the western coast of Singapore with Malaysia.

– Malaysia on Oct. 25 unilaterally decided to expand its port limits into Singapore’s waters via a formal government document declaring this, and soon after, started patrolling the area as if it is theirs.
– Singapore responded by releasing documents that show the chronology of events that date back to 1979 detailing the rightful limits of the country’s territorial boundaries.
– Malaysian vessels continue to intrude in Singapore’s waters despite warnings.

More on the ongoing territorial dispute:

Khaw Boon Wan: M’sia violated S’pore’s “territorial sovereignty” 14 times, firm action will be taken against illegal intrusions

Everything you need to know about the Singapore-Johor port limits dispute since 1979

Khaw’s conflict-resolving speech is firm & heartfelt. Ball now in M’sia’s court.

Top image via Mindef

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