The Singapore Police Force has issued a public statement to refute claims that Malaysian fishermen were chased away from Malaysian territorial waters while trying to fish.
The statement by the SPF was put up on Oct. 25, about a day after various reports were circulated online that fishermen up north had been chased away from their own territorial waters on Oct. 23.The statement said the Singapore police is aware of the allegations circulating online.
"The allegations are wholly untrue," the SPF statement said.
According to SPF, police coast guard officers were patrolling Singapore territorial waters off Lim Chu Kang on Oct. 23, at about 4pm.
A group of Malaysian fishing vessels were spotted entering and exiting the live firing area within Singapore’s territorial waters.
"Unauthorised vessels are strictly prohibited from entering the live firing area, for their own safety," the SPF statement added.
The police coast guard officers approached the Malaysian fishing vessels and used the public address system to advise the fishermen to leave the live firing area.
The Singapore police added that at about 5.28pm, the crew of a few Malaysian fishing vessels approached the police coast guard officers to express unhappiness at being asked to leave the area.
The Singapore police coast officers explained that unauthorised vessels were prohibited from entering the area, and asked the Malaysian fishermen to leave for their own safety.
After a verbal exchange, the Malaysian fishing vessels returned to Malaysian territorial waters at about 5.37pm, the SPF also revealed, saying that the initial and subsequent exchanges took place entirely in Singapore territorial waters.
What was circulated online
Posts about the incident that circulated online prior to the SPF statement claimed that a group of 10 Malaysian fishermen were chased away by the Singaporean authorities while setting up shrimp nets in the Pasir Laba area, near the Second Link Bridge, Iskandar Puteri, at 5.30pm on Sunday.
The initial immediate reaction from some in Malaysia included Kota Iskandar assemblyman Pandak Ahmad, who was reported as saying that he regretted the actions of the Singaporean authorities when the group of fishermen claimed they were chased away with harsh words.
What Malaysia media reported
Various Malaysia media carried a syndicated report by Bernama, a Malaysian national news agency of the government of Malaysia, which said several local fishermen lodged a police report on Oct. 24 following a verbal altercation with the Singapore coast guard.
The Bernama report highlighted that the exchange between the fishermen and the Singapore coast guard was circulated widely online on Oct. 23 night, after the incident happened just earlier that day.
Iskandar Puteri police chief Assistant Commissioner Rahmat Ariffin confirmed that the fishermen lodged their report at 2.30pm on Oct. 24 and further investigations are underway.
He advised the public not to engage in speculation that could disturb public order.
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