Johor Chief Minister Osman Sapian visited the buoy-laying vessel MV Pedoman on Wednesday, Jan. 9.
The Pedoman had replaced the MV Polaris that was in Singapore territorial waters till Jan. 5, according to Malaysian media.
Singapore says it's a "provocative act" made in Singapore territorial waters
In response, Singapore postponed an annual meeting with Malaysia scheduled for Jan. 14.
In a statement released on Saturday, Jan. 12, Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) called Osman's visit an "intrusion".
In a separate statement released on Sunday, Jan. 13, MFA said Singapore sent a diplomatic note to Malaysia on Friday, Jan. 11, to protest the "unauthorised visit" by Osman to Pedoman, which was "anchored illegally in Singapore Territorial Waters off Tuas".
MFA also referred to the visit as a "provocative act" that "went against the spirit of the agreement reached a day earlier" by Singapore's Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan and his counterpart, Saifuddin Abdullah.
A report by The Straits Times (ST), which cited an official source who “could not be named due to the sensitivity of the matter”, said that his visit was not approved by the federal government.
Malaysia says the visit was made in Malaysian territorial waters
However, Malaysia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs claimed otherwise in a statement released on Sunday, Jan. 13.
It confirmed that the meeting between Singapore and Malaysia was postponed, and that Singapore sent a diplomatic note to Malaysia on Jan. 11.
However, it said that Singapore's reason for the postponement was due to Osman's visit to the "Johor Bahru port in Malaysian territorial waters" on Jan. 9.
Here's the statement:
"The reason for the postponement, as conveyed by Singapore vide a Diplomatic Note dated 11 January 2019 was due to the visit by YAB Dato’ Osman Sapian, the Chief Minister of Johor to Johor Bahru port in Malaysian territorial waters on 9 January 2019."
Besides the ongoing territorial water dispute between Singapore and Malaysia, both countries are also facing another airspace dispute over southern Johor.
Top image adapted via Singapore Police Force & Osman Sapian's Facebook page