Police refute 'untrue' allegations that coast guard entered M'sian waters & damaged M'sian vessel's fishing nets

The police added that the vessel was fishing in Singaporean waters.

Ruth Chai | August 20, 2023, 07:37 PM

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The Singapore Police Force (SPF) has refuted "untrue" allegations in Malaysian media reports saying that a police coast guard (PCG) boat had entered Malaysian territorial waters (MTW) and damaged nets laid by a Malaysian fishing vessel.

The incident has also caused a Johor politician to call for the remapping of Singapore and Malaysia's maritime border, particularly in the Johor Strait.

SPF statement

In a statement issued on Sunday (Aug. 20), SPF said that on Aug. 14 at 6:55am, PCG officers were patrolling Singapore territorial waters (STW) when they spotted a Malaysian fishing vessel.

The vessel was in Singaporean waters, at the sea off Tuas.

"At the time, there were a few other fishing vessels in the vicinity, but they were in MTW. PCG officers engaged the fisherman on board the fishing vessel in STW and advised him to leave STW," the police said.

After the engagement, a fishing net became entangled with the propellors of the PCG boat as the boat was reversing to try to avoid entering Malaysian waters.

The net was damaged in the process of untangling it from the propellors.

"PCG officer were enforcing Singapore's laws within STW," SPF said.

Malaysian response

The incident has led Kota Iskandar assemblyman Pandak Ahmad to propose a motion at next month's state legislative assembly for the remapping of the country's maritime border between Johor and Singapore, particularly the Johor Strait.

He told Malaysian media outlet Bernama that this was precipitated by "the emergence of several issues involving local fishermen in the Johor Strait and the Singaporean authorities".

"If this matter is not brought to the state assembly, it will not be resolved," he told Malaysian media at a press conference in Iskandar Puteri on Wednesday (Aug 16).

Same fisherman was involved in a previous incident

The SPF added that the same fisherman was involved in a previous incident in Oct. 23, 2022.

According to a statement released then, PCG officers were patrolling Singaporean waters off Lim Chu Kang at about 4pm, when they spotted a group of Malaysian fishing vessels entering and exiting a live firing area.

Approaching the Malaysian fishing vessels, they advised the vessels to leave the area.

Initially, the crew of the Malaysian fishing vessels approached the police coast guard officers to express unhappiness at being asked to leave.

After a brief exchange, which the PCG explained that unauthorised vessels were prohibited from entering the area for their own safety, the Malaysian fishing vessels returned to Malaysian waters. 

The fisherman involved in the latest case was one of the fishermen involved in the previous incident.

During the incident on Oct. 23, the fisherman had also falsely claimed that he was in Malaysian waters when he was in fact in Singaporean waters.

The incident resulted in Malaysian media alleging that the PCG had chased Malaysian fishermen away for fishing in Malaysian waters.

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Top photo via Singapore Police Force