Malaysian sea incursions have violated Singapore's sovereignty, international law: Khaw

Nicholas Yong
Assistant News Editor
Singapore’s Transport Minister Khaw Boon addresses reporters at Seletar Airport on Tuesday, 4 December 2018. PHOTO: Nicholas Yong/Yahoo News Singapore

Repeated incursions by Malaysian government vessels into Singapore’s territorial waters off Tuas represent “a violation of our sovereignty and also international law”, said Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan on Tuesday (4 December).

Speaking to reporters at Seletar Airport, Khaw noted, “And in fact, in the last two weeks, there have been repeated intrusions by Malaysian vessels and their enforcement agency…into our sovereign space. So we of course, continue to issue (Third Party Notes) to Malaysia and hope that they would stop this escalation of actions.”

On Tuesday, Khaw’s ministry said that ships from the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency and the Marine Department Malaysia have repeatedly intruded into the Republic’s territorial waters.

The intrusions come in the wake of a purported extension of the Johor Bahru port limits via a Malaysian government gazette dated 25 October, a port circular dated 11 November and a notice to mariners dated 22 November.

The Transport Minister said that he had raised the issue with his Malaysia counterpart Anthony Loke during the ASEAN Transport Ministers meeting in Bangkok last month. Loke said then that Malaysia’s foreign ministry would respond on the issue.

“But while waiting for the response, which didn’t come, in fact, they escalated their actions. They went on to publish a port circular and a few weeks later, a mariner’s note. So these are instructions to the shipping community about their new boundaries. So we issued a second TPN,” said Khaw.

Earlier on Tuesday, Loke told the Malaysian parliament that his country intends to reclaim its airspace over southern Johor from Singapore.

MOT said in a statement that current airspace arrangements in the region have been working well and any proposed changes to them will impact many stakeholders. 

Asked if he was concerned that the airspace and maritime issues might escalate, Khaw said, “I certainly hope not. As I said, it’s certainly not conducive to bilateral relations. We have so many things that we want to work together. The potential for doing much more is huge.

“We hope that good sense will prevail…let’s sit down and let’s understand each other…find some common solution, common space which can be a win-win.”

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