Singapore rejects Malaysia’s ‘cease and desist’ proposal on disputed maritime area

Video screenshot of a Malaysian vessel intruding into Singapore territorial waters. (Credit: Mindef)

The Singapore government does not agree with Malaysia’s proposal for both countries to cease and desist from sending assets into the disputed maritime area, the Republic’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) said on Friday night (7 December).

The MFA was responding to the proposal by Malaysian Foreign Affairs Minister Saifuddin Abdullah on Friday for the two countries to observe the “cease and desist” action in the disputed area effective at midnight on Saturday.

In a statement, the MFA said that Singapore Minister for Foreign Affairs Vivian Balakrishnan told Saifuddin on Wednesday that Malaysian government vessels have repeatedly intruded into Singapore territorial waters following the purported extension of the port limits of Johor Bahru Port on 25 October.

On Thursday, Singapore’s Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan revealed at a media conference that there had been 14 intrusions by Malaysian government vessels into Singapore territorial waters between 24 November and 5 December.

In response to Malaysia’s “blatant” maritime provocations in recent weeks, Khaw said that Singapore extended its Port Limits off Tuas with effect from Thursday.

Earlier Friday, Singapore Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen warned Malaysian government vessels to leave Singapore territorial waters.

“Malaysian government vessels should forthwith cease these provocative violations of Singapore sovereignty and return to the status quo ante before 25 October 2018, without prejudice to our respective positions on maritime boundary claims in the area,” the MFA said.

Singapore remains ready to discuss the issue with Malaysia in a “constructive manner” in the spirit of preserving their important bilateral relationship.

“Attempts to create facts on the ground add nothing to Malaysia’s legal case and are unhelpful for an amicable resolution of our maritime boundary issues,” the MFA said.

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