M'sia, S'pore to suspend Restricted Area & Seletar Airport ILS for 1 month

And establish working group on maritime border dispute.

Sulaiman Daud | January 08, 2019, 04:12 PM

Singapore and Malaysia reached an agreement on Jan. 8 over recent bilateral disputes.

Speaking at a press conference, Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan and Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah announced the following developments.

Permanent restricted area suspended

According to a media release from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), Malaysia will immediately suspend the permanent Restricted Area it imposed over Pasir Gudang, Johor, for one month.

On Dec. 25, 2018, the Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia (CAAM) published a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM).

The notice informed the aviation community of the establishment of a permanent Restricted Area for the purpose of military activities over Pasir Gudang, with effect from Jan. 2.

On Jan. 1, Singapore's Ministry of Transport noted that the Restricted Area would impact the existing and normal operations of aircraft transiting through the "congested and controlled" airspace.

It raised its concerns with Malaysia over the impact on civil aviation.

Instrument Landing Systems suspended

Singapore will immediately suspend the implementation of the instrument landing systems (ILS) for Seletar Airport for one month.

Previously, Singapore issued new ILS for Seletar Airport on Dec. 1, 2018, which would come into force on Jan. 3.

But Malaysian Transport Minister Anthony Loke raised concerns, as it would allegedly stunt development around the Pasir Gudang industrial district by imposing height restrictions on buildings and affecting port activities.

The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) met the CAAM on Dec. 5, 2017 to inform them about the new ILS.

However despite sending multiple reminders and follow-up emails, Malaysia did not raise substantial objections or concerns until Loke's address in Parliament on Dec. 4, 2018.

Transport Ministers to meet

The Foreign Ministers agreed that the Transport Ministers from both countries should "meet soon" for discussions on the Restricted Area and the Seletar Airport ILS procedures, to ensure the safety and efficiency of civil aviation.

However, the statement did not give a confirmed date for a meeting between Loke and Singapore's Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan.

Working group established

The Foreign Ministers also discussed the maritime dispute over the port limits on both sides.

They agreed to establish a working group to study and discuss the legal and operational matters, in order to de-escalate the situation on the ground, and provide a basis for further discussions and negotiations.

The group will be headed by Chee Wee Kiong, Permanent Secretary of MFA, and Muhammad Shahrul Ikram Yaakob, Secretary-General of the Malaysian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and relevant senior officials.

The group will report to the Foreign Ministers within two months.

Top image adapted from Vivian Balakrishnan and Saifuddin Abdullah's Facebook pages.