Singapore postpones annual meeting with Malaysia after Johor Menteri Besar visits vessel in Tuas waters

Johor’s Menteri Besar Osman Sapian (right) visits a Malaysia government vessel in Singapore waters off Tuas on 9 January, 2019. (PHOTO: Facebook/Osman Sapian)

Singapore has postponed a scheduled annual bilateral meeting with Malaysia, following the intrusion by Johor Menteri Besar Osman Sapian into Singapore territorial waters off Tuas on Wednesday (9 January).

In a media statement on Saturday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) announced the postponement of the 14th meeting of the Joint Ministerial Committee for Iskandar Malaysia (JMCIM), which was originally scheduled for Monday (14 January).

It added, “The intrusion by Johor Menteri Besar Dato’ Osman Sapian into Singapore Territorial Waters off Tuas on 9 January 2019 made the 14th JMCIM meeting untenable. Singapore therefore proposed to postpone the JMCIM meeting, and Malaysia agreed.”

The committee was set up in 2007 to study how both neighbours can work together in the South Johor economic zone of Iskandar.

The Malaysian delegation at this year’s meeting was supposed to have been led by Economic Affairs Minister Azmin Ali, Osman and other Johor state leaders.

Photos of visit shared on Osman’s Facebook page

After Osman visited the Malaysian Marine Department (MMD) vessel MV Pedoman on Wednesday, he put up a Facebook post to share photos of his visit of the officers on duty aboard.

He also wrote in the post, ““I thank, for their service and sacrifice, members of safety agencies and public officers who are committed to monitor and defend our waters.”

His visit came a day after Singapore’s Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan and his Malaysian counterpart Saifuddin Abdullah met in Singapore and agreed to form a working group to study and discuss the ongoing dispute over maritime boundaries.

Kuala Lumpur had on 25 October last year unilaterally extended the port limits for Johor Baru port, such that they encroach on Singapore’s territorial waters off Tuas. As a result, Malaysian government vessels had repeatedly intruded into Singapore waters, sparking off the ongoing maritime dispute.

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