M’sian buoy-laying vessel, Jabatan Laut Polaris, replaced by a similar ship called Pedoman in S’pore waters off Tuas
It had left three days before the meeting of the foreign ministers on Jan. 8
Update: Another Malaysian buoy-laying vessel has since taken the place of the Jabatan Laut Polaris, the Pedoman, according to ship tracking site, Marine Traffic.
A Malaysian buoy-laying vessel — the Jabatan Laut Polaris — which had been anchored in Singapore’s territorial waters off Tuas, has returned to the Malaysian port of Tanjung Pelepas, Channel NewsAsia (CNA) reported on Jan. 9.
The vessel had been anchored in Singapore’s territory since Dec. 3, 2018.
Here’s how it looks:
Here’s a video of the vessel at its time of intrusion:
According to CNA, buoy-laying vessels are usually used to mark territory or safety hazards and Jabatan Laut refers to the Malaysia Marine Department.
Vessel returned before Jan. 8 agreement
CNA added that the vessel left Singapore’s waters on the morning of Jan. 5 to return to the port of Tanjung Pelepas.
This was three days before Singapore and Malaysia reached an agreement on Jan. 8 over recent bilateral disputes, at a meeting between Singapore’s Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan and his Malaysian counterpart Saifuddin Abdullah.
Both sides had discussed the maritime dispute over the port limits.
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.
Vessel had been part of 14 intrusions last year
In a speech on Dec. 6, 2018, Coordinating Minister for Infrastructure and the Minister for Transport Khaw Boon Wan stated that there had been 14 intrusions by Malaysian vessels into Singapore territorial waters, after Malaysia extended the Johor Bahru Port Limits on Oct. 25, 2018.
At the time of his speech, three vessels remained in Singapore waters, including the Jabatan Laut Polaris.
Khaw also added that he wanted the Malaysian Government vessels to return to the status quo before Oct 25, 2018.
Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat wrote on Dec. 9, 2018, in a Facebook post that the intrusions were “a violation of Singapore’s sovereignty and international law”.
He subsequently met Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad with Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean on Dec. 31, 2018, in Putrajaya, to deliver a message on behalf of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
It was a meeting aimed at paving the way for the Jan. 8 meeting of the Foreign Ministers for Singapore and Malaysia.
Top image screenshot from Malaysian Defence and Security Community Facebook