Wednesday, 5 December 2018

Singapore and Malaysia dispute over airspace and territorial waters








Khaw Boon Wan tells Malaysian ships to back off as Singapore expands its own port limits and says it will act firmly if Malaysian vessels continue to intrude
Transport Minister urges dialogue on maritime row, but vows firm action to protect sovereignty
By Yasmine Yahya, Senior Political Correspondent, The Straits Times, 7 Dec 2018

Malaysia should "back off" and leave Singapore's waters.

That was the firm message from Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan yesterday, as he urged Singapore's closest neighbour to pursue dialogue instead of "blatant provocation" to resolve the row over port limits and territorial waters.

Mr Khaw revealed that in the past two weeks, there have been 14 incursions by Malaysian government vessels into Singapore's waters.


Three of these vessels were still in Singapore territory yesterday, he told the media. Singapore decided to expand its own port limits in response to Malaysia's action, he said.


And while the Republic has so far responded with restraint against the "aggressive actions" by the Malaysian vessels in its waters, it will not hesitate to act firmly to protect its territory and sovereignty, if necessary, Mr Khaw said.


"My main message today is... Back off. Leave our waters while we pursue sit-down dialogues and try to resolve it."




Mr Khaw outlined how the incursions stemmed from Malaysia's unilateral decision in October to extend the Johor Baru port limits into Singapore's territorial waters, a move which the Republic protested.

"Malaysian government vessels have since been continually intruding into Singapore territorial waters off Tuas," Mr Khaw said.


Singapore's expansion of its port limits, with immediate effect, is well within its own territorial waters, he added. "It is... a reaction to this provocative action on the part of Malaysia, but we do it properly, in accordance with international law, and certainly do not infringe on our neighbour's rights."



In the meantime, he added, Singapore's security agencies will continue to patrol the area and respond to unauthorised activities.

They have so far responded with restraint. "But Singapore cannot allow our sovereignty to be violated, or new facts on the ground to be created," Mr Khaw said. "Therefore, if it becomes necessary, we will not hesitate to take firm actions against intrusions and unauthorised activities in our waters to protect our territory and sovereignty."




Mr Khaw noted that since at least 1999, Singapore has been exercising its jurisdiction in the waters now covered by the recent extension of the Johor Baru port limits.

"Malaysia has never laid claim to these waters, or protested our actions there. Now, out of the blue, Malaysia is claiming these territorial waters that belong to Singapore," he said.

"This is a blatant provocation and a serious violation of our sovereignty and international law."



On Wednesday, Malaysia argued that Singapore cannot claim the area as its territorial waters on the basis of its reclamation works in Tuas in recent years.

But Mr Khaw responded that Malaysia had published a map in 1979, when no reclamation in Tuas had taken place. The new, purported, Johor Baru port limits now extend even beyond Malaysia's own territorial claim line, into Singapore's waters.

Malaysia had replied to say its vessels were patrolling its own territorial waters - a claim Singapore rejected. Malaysia had also proposed that the two sides meet to resolve the issue. "Singapore naturally agrees to this and will follow up," Mr Khaw said.

But he added: "This violation of Singapore's sovereignty is a serious new issue in our bilateral relations with Malaysia," he said, adding that Singaporeans have to be fully aware of these developments.

"While we seek cooperation and friendship with other countries, we must never let other countries take advantage of us. When our national interests are challenged, we have to quietly but firmly stand our ground and stay united as one people."







 










Chan Chun Sing on maritime dispute with Malaysia: Return to pre-Oct 25 status quo for 'things to calm down'
Singapore hopes for 'swift and amicable' resolution of matter
Republic hopes to resolve dispute amicably, is open to international third-party procedure
By Lim Min Zhang, The Sunday Times, 9 Dec 2018

Malaysia must get its government vessels to leave Singapore territorial waters at once and return to the pre-Oct 25 status quo, Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing said.

In his first public comments on the dispute since it became public on Tuesday, Mr Chan told reporters yesterday the Republic welcomes talks and hopes for a "swift and amicable resolution" of the matter.

The Singapore Government is also prepared for the dispute to be resolved "by recourse to an appropriate international third-party dispute settlement procedure". But it was important, he said, to "calm down the ground situation first".

"Revert to the pre-Oct 25 status quo ante. Have the Malaysian ships leave the area peacefully, immediately," he said.



Mr Chan said these points were conveyed in a diplomatic note sent to Malaysia yesterday morning.

Malaysia had, on Friday, sent Singapore a diplomatic note, proposing both sides "cease and desist" sending assets to the disputed area, pending discussions on outstanding maritime boundary issues.

Later that night, Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs rejected this proposal, and called on Malaysian government vessels to leave the area, which Malaysia laid claim to for the first time on Oct 25 when it gazetted an extension of Johor Baru port limits. Singapore has protested against the extension and extended its own port limits on Thursday.

Mr Chan noted that the situation on the ground was tense, with ships in close proximity to one another.



"We know that some ships are armed. So the risk of escalation cannot be underestimated. Accidents can happen," he said, stressing the need for Malaysia to revert to the status quo before Oct 25.

Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu also weighed in on the matter at a police event yesterday, saying that where Singapore's sovereign rights are affected, "we must take firm action, but we must also remain calm".

She noted that the Singapore Police Coast Guard has been even busier patrolling the Republic's territorial waters after Malaysia started plying its vessels there recently. She also hoped the bilateral relationship could be put back on track.

Meanwhile, the opposition Workers' Party issued a strong statement on the deployment of Malaysian vessels into Singapore waters.

"Escalatory actions like the unilateral deployment of vessels to engender new facts on the ground are not only unnecessary and provocative, they do not set the right tone for Singapore-Malaysia relations for our people," the Workers' Party said, expressing its support for all the officers who have been activated to deal with the incursions.

Across the Causeway, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said he was open to talking. He told reporters yesterday: "A lot of people announce their borders off and on, and that causes a lot of disputes, so we will settle the disputes based on legal provisions and our rights."



In his remarks, Mr Chan said Malaysia's proposal "cannot be right". Singapore's Navy and Police Coast Guard have long been patrolling the waters off Tuas, which Malaysia now claims. And Malaysia's latest claim goes beyond its 1979 maritime boundaries map, which Singapore never accepted.

Malaysia followed that map when it announced port limits for Johor Baru port in 1999. But its latest notice is the first time it is claiming the area at the centre of the dispute.

Mr Chan, a former army chief, said the Malaysian government vessels in the area are conducting unauthorised activities under international law and refusing to leave.

He said: "(Malaysia is) suggesting that Singapore vessels leave the area for talks to happen. That's not right. That cannot be right... You make a claim. You send forces in. You ask Singapore to leave, as conditions to start talks? How can this be?"

Younger Malaysian leaders he has met since May have said they want to work closer together, Mr Chan said. "I hope they still believe in working together. Then we don't have to expend our energies managing these unnecessary, unhelpful and unproductive activities."











Risk of escalation of tensions can't be underestimated: Chan Chun Sing
The Sunday Times, 9 Dec 2018

Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing yesterday updated the media on the latest developments in Malaysia's claim to Singapore's territorial waters off Tuas. This is a transcript of his remarks.

WHAT IS THE CURRENT SITUATION ON THE GROUND?

The ground situation is tense. Ships are in close proximity to each other and we know that some ships are armed.

So the risk of escalation cannot be underestimated. Accidents can happen. We should revert to the pre-Oct 25th status quo ante for things to calm down.

And there are ways to do this under international law without prejudice to Malaysia. We have to be sensible about this.

WHAT TRIGGERED THE CURRENT DISPUTE?

We do not wish to speculate on Malaysia's domestic and bilateral considerations. We have seen this before. Older Malaysians must surely know and remember.

Just as in 1979. Singapore had been administering Pedra Branca for more than 100 years. Then suddenly, the Malaysians published a new map, unilaterally claiming Pedra Branca and the waters off Tuas. No consultation. No discussion.

That set off a dispute that lasted decades. Military forces were deployed, facing off each other at sea. We were brought up in that generation. We went to the ICJ (International Court of Justice) and even then we did not fully settle the issue.

Even as we speak today, we are still managing the issue. It has become a blemish on our bilateral ties.

Fast forward to 2018. Just when we are working on a fresh start with the new Malaysian Government, we find the pattern being repeated. As (Transport Minister Khaw) Boon Wan said - deja vu.



Let us look at the facts. The Singapore Navy and the Singapore Police Coast Guard have been patrolling the waters off Tuas for many years, decades. Then suddenly, the Malaysians again publish a new map with a new port limit. Again, no consultation. No discussion.

Claiming even more than what they did in 1979, which no one has even accepted. Claiming waters that Singapore has been patrolling and performing constabulary duties all these years, decades.

Now they are sending Malaysian government vessels into the area, inconsistent with innocent passage, conducting unlawful activities, and unauthorised activities under international law, refusing to leave. Then suggesting that Singapore vessels leave the area for talks to happen.

That is not right. That cannot be right. Even the layman can see that this cannot be right. You make a claim. You send forces in. You ask Singapore to leave.

As conditions to start talks? How can this be?

We have to be sincere. Singapore is sincere. We must re-establish the pre-Oct 25th position.

Malaysian ships must leave the area. Stop the unlawful activities.

Adding more ships and staying longer will not add to their claim. Using force and trying to change the facts at sea will also not add to their claim.

WHAT IS THE WAY FORWARD FOR SINGAPORE AND MALAYSIA?

I think the Malaysians and Malaysian government have a choice. Do we want to move forward constructively to prosper thy neighbour or do we want to colour yet another generation with beggar thy neighbour policies?

Since May, I have met various younger Malaysian leaders. They all expressed the hope that they want to work closer together.

We all agreed the competition is not so much between Singapore and Malaysia as between us and the rest of the world.

I hope their actions will match their words. I hope they still believe in working together. If so, then we do not have to expend our energies managing all these unnecessary, unhelpful, unproductive activities.

Malaysians do not benefit. Malaysia will not benefit. And I hope that the Malaysian leaders have the courage to do what is right and do what is good for our bilateral ties.

HOW HAS THE SINGAPORE GOVERNMENT RESPONDED TO MALAYSIA'S PROPOSAL?

This morning we responded to their latest Third Party Note (TPN). We made the following points to them.

First, we welcome talks. We can discuss the dates and the agenda. The Singapore Government is hopeful that through the engagement of both countries, the governments of Malaysia and Singapore can reach a swift and amicable resolution to this dispute.

But if such talks do not eventually produce an amicable resolution, the Singapore Government would be prepared for this matter to be settled by recourse to an appropriate international third-party dispute settlement procedure.

Second, importantly, let us calm down the ground situation first. Revert to the pre-Oct 25th status quo ante. Have the Malaysian ships leave the area peacefully, immediately.






5 things to know about the territorial waters issue between Singapore and Malaysia
Seemingly out of nowhere, a row has erupted between Singapore and Malaysia over airspace and territorial waters. In just three days, the exchange between them has intensified, with Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan on Thursday urging Malaysia to "back off" from Singapore's waters. The Straits Times' Senior Political Correspondent Yasmine Yahya recaps the events so far.
By Yasmine Yahya, Senior Political Correspondent, The Straits Times, 8 Dec 2018

1 HOW DID THE DISPUTE BURST INTO THE OPEN?

On Tuesday, the simmering disputes between Singapore and Malaysia over airspace and territorial waters spilled into the public arena following a statement by Malaysia's Transport Minister Anthony Loke.

He said Kuala Lumpur planned to take charge again of the managing of the airspace over south Johor, a task long delegated to Singapore.

The reason it gave was that it objected to new flight procedures Singapore had proposed for Seletar Airport, a change that involves new flight paths for pilots landing there, as "they will stunt development" around the Pasir Gudang industrial district.

But Mr Khaw argued that the airspace was delegated to Singapore's management under an agreement with regional states, including Malaysia, in 1973.

He also said the new flight procedures, called the Instrument Landing System (ILS), enable pilots to approach the airport and runway in a safer and more precise manner.

Hours after the disagreement came to light, Singapore published a statement saying it had lodged a strong protest with Kuala Lumpur on a separate issue: Malaysia's move to extend the Johor Baru port limits.

It said Malaysia made the decision on Oct 25, when it issued a federal government gazette declaring it would extend the Johor Baru port limits into waters that Singapore claims as its own.





2 WHAT IS SINGAPORE'S RESPONSE?

On Nov 5, Singapore issued a Third Person Note (TPN) requesting Malaysia to amend immediately the gazette to reflect Singapore's sovereignty over the waters.

On Nov 9, Mr Khaw raised the issue with Mr Loke when they met in Bangkok at an Asean aviation meeting.

Mr Khaw told reporters on Thursday that Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong also flagged the issue with Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad last month as one that could affect bilateral relations. Tun Dr Mahathir was then in Singapore for the Asean Summit.

But on Nov 11, Malaysia issued a port circular, followed by a notice to mariners on Nov 22, to alert the shipping community of the expanded Johor Baru port limits.

Singapore issued a second TPN on Nov 29 to protest against these documents, and the next day published a circular instructing ship masters and owners of vessels to disregard Malaysia's notices.

Since then, Mr Khaw said, Malaysian government vessels have been continually intruding into Singapore's waters off Tuas.

There have hitherto been 14 intrusions, he said on Thursday, when he issued a firm statement on Malaysia's "blatant provocation".

A day earlier, Malaysia had issued a media statement saying it was well within its rights to draw any port limit in its area, in accordance with its national laws.

Malaysia also replied to Singapore's first TPN of Nov 5, saying the altered Johor Baru port limits did not encroach on Singapore's waters, and that the Malaysian government vessels were patrolling the territorial waters of Malaysia.

In reply, Singapore expanded its port limits with immediate effect from Thursday.





3 DOES SINGAPORE'S LAND RECLAMATION FACTOR INTO THE DISPUTE?

In Wednesday's statement, Mr Loke suggested that the dispute over the waters off Tuas was due to land reclamation. "Singapore has in recent years carried out extensive land reclamation in the area in question," he said.

In accordance with international law, the territorial sea of Singapore remains unchanged, even when reclamation has been carried out almost to the outer limits of Singapore's territorial sea, he said.

However, Mr Khaw pointed out that when Malaysia published in 1979 a map of its maritime boundaries, it did not consult Singapore.

And Singapore has never accepted these claims.

"In fact, in 1979, no reclamation at Tuas had taken place," he added.

"So, the Malaysian unilateral territorial claim of 1979 (which we do not recognise) could not possibly have taken into account any reclamation by Singapore."

The new Johor Baru Port limits in fact go beyond Malaysia's own territorial claim line, and Malaysian ships have crossed this line to enter Singapore waters, Mr Khaw added.


4 WHAT IS THE SITUATION NOW?

Yesterday, there were still three Malaysian vessels in Singapore's waters, and security agencies continued to patrol the area and issue warnings to the vessels.

Malaysian Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah called for both sides to cease and desist from sending ships into the disputed area from today.

Singapore replied to say that it did not agree, and called on Malaysian government vessels to cease these provocative violations of Singapore sovereignty and return to the status quo ante before Oct 25.




5 WHAT IS NEXT?

In his statement, Datuk Saifuddin said Malaysia has forwarded to Singapore a draft agenda for a meeting aimed at an amicable resolution of the dispute.

He said the Malaysian government hopes for the meeting to be convened "sometime in the middle of this month".

Singapore said it would respond to Malaysia's note in due course, and remained ready to discuss the issue in a constructive manner in the spirit of preserving the important bilateral relationship.















Malaysia will resolve disputes based on law, says Mahathir
The Sunday Times, 9 Dec 2018

PETALING JAYA • Malaysia's Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said yesterday that his country will sit down with Singapore to resolve maritime and airspace boundary disputes based on the law, pointing out that the Republic had agreed to negotiations on the matter.

Asked whether he is concerned that the issue would strain bilateral ties, Tun Dr Mahathir said: "A lot of people announce their borders off and on, and that causes a lot of disputes, so we will settle the disputes based on legal provisions and our rights."



He was speaking to reporters yesterday after a meeting of the leaders of the ruling Pakatan Harapan alliance.

Singapore has said that Malaysian vessels had remained in the Republic's territorial waters off Tuas which Kuala Lumpur laid claim to recently as extension to the Johor port limits.


Meanwhile, Malaysia has said it planned to reclaim airspace delegated to Singapore and also protested against new flight procedures which would be implemented next month at Seletar Airport, saying these would stunt development of the Pasir Gudang industrial district in Johor.

Dr Mahathir, asked about measures being taken to resolve the dispute, said: "The important thing is that Singapore agrees to a negotiation - until we finish negotiation we cannot give a final answer."



Meanwhile in Johor Baru, Home Affairs Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said yesterday that the boundary disputes should be settled at the negotiating table, New Straits Times (NST) reported on its online site.

"I followed what the minister of Singapore mentioned a few days ago that they (Singapore) would like to resolve this amicably; so that is a good move," he said. "We do not want to spark an unnecessary rivalry that creates a lot of dissatisfaction."

He was quoted as saying that while bilateral ties remained good, issues affecting the neighbours would happen from time to time.

"It also happened from the time I was the Menteri Besar in Johor. There were also some problems which we needed to handle then... it is normal," NST quoted him as saying. Tan Sri Muhyiddin was the Johor chief minister for nine years to 1995.

"The fact is, both countries want to cooperate and there will always be issues that arise. The latest is the issue concerning airspace and we will resolve it at the negotiation table," he said.











MP uses maps to explain Singapore-Malaysia territorial waters dispute on Facebook
The Sunday Times, 9 Dec 2018

As Malaysian government vessels continued to remain in Singapore's territorial waters off Tuas, several MPs have taken to social media to explain the situation to residents.

Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC MP Alex Yam went a step further. Late on Friday night, he posted on his Facebook page an image that transposed a map of the maritime boundary lines in the area onto another map that shows the position of vessels based on their automatic identification system (AIS) tracker.

The AIS is intended to allow ships to view marine traffic in their area and to be seen by other ships.

And the image Mr Yam, who is executive director of the People's Action Party (PAP) headquarters, posted showed Malaysian Marine Department vessel MV Polaris squarely within Singapore territorial waters as at 11.55pm on Friday.

"It lies only approximately 0.5 nautical mile off the shore of Tuas based on a straight-line waypoint plot from the vessel to the edge of our port," Mr Yam wrote in his post.

"By plotting in the approximate positions of the 1995 Bilateral Territorial Waters boundary, the 1979 arbitrary claim by Malaysia, the 1999 Johor Port Limits and the 2018 Singapore Port Limits (not to scale), it is obvious that the MV Polaris is not only outside its own Johor port limits and the 1979 claim by Malaysia but intruding into our maritime boundary," he added.

"It has done so for the last few days, despite warnings by our patrol vessels of its violations. It is also not the only vessel, there are two others moored within our boundary, and a total of 14 intrusions since late November 2018, a blatant provocation."



Singapore and Malaysia agreed on most of their maritime boundary along the Johor Strait in a 1995 agreement. But the Republic did not accept Malaysia's claims in a 1979 map, which also covered areas outside the 1995 agreement.

On Oct 25, Malaysia gazetted altered port limits that went beyond its past claims. Singapore has protested against the claim, which it surfaced last Tuesday. The Republic also extended its port limits off Tuas to the full extent of its territorial waters on Thursday.

Malaysia in turn sent a diplomatic note on Friday objecting to that move, and asking both countries to cease and desist from sending assets into the disputed area - a point its Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah also made in a statement.

Mr Yam described this call as "incredulous". "In asking both countries to leave the area it means that by having intruded into our waters, they would now have us removed from our own waters," he wrote.

"Their vessels undertook what are deemed as unauthorised, unlawful activities under international law within our territorial waters and yet want us out," he added.

Said Mr Yam: "We are reasonable people and are not raring for a fight, but as articulated plainly by Defence Minister Dr Ng Eng Hen: 'Singaporeans are peace-loving, but I strongly caution violators to leave Singapore territorial waters'."

Shortly before Mr Yam's post, Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) issued a statement categorically rejecting Malaysia's proposal and asking its vessels to leave.

Former MFA permanent secretary Bilahari Kausikan also wrote on Facebook: "You have to admire the Malaysian Foreign Minister's chutzpah: you create a problem; when we respond to defend our interests, you say that the solution to the problem you created in the first place is for us to cease defending our interests and to accept equal responsibility for the problem!

"Sorry, bro. Good try but no cigar. We are not daft," he added.











Singapore stands firm in dispute over its territorial waters, rejects KL’s call to stop sending assets to area, says Malaysian govt vessels must leave
By Adrian Lim, Political Correspondent, The Straits Times, 8 Dec 2018

Singapore has rejected Malaysia's call for both countries to stop sending assets into an area of the Republic's waters off Tuas which Kuala Lumpur recently laid claim to.

Malaysian government vessels that have encroached into Singapore's territorial waters must leave the area immediately, Singapore added.

"Singapore remains ready to discuss this issue with Malaysia in a constructive manner in the spirit of preserving our important bilateral relationship," a Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) spokesman said last night. "However, Singapore does not agree with Malaysia's proposal for both countries to cease and desist from sending assets into the disputed area," the spokesman added.



His reply came shortly after Malaysian Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah proposed through Singapore's High Commissioner in Kuala Lumpur that "both countries cease and desist from sending assets into the disputed area from 0000 hours on Dec 8, 2018, pending discussions on outstanding maritime boundary issues". Singapore said it would respond to the diplomatic note in due course.



Malaysia - for the first time - claimed the area unilaterally in its Government Gazette notice extending Johor Baru port limits on Oct 25.

The Republic strongly protested against the action, but Malaysia continued to publish notices on the new limits, and its government vessels began making intrusions into the area, claiming the area as their own.



The matter came into the open on Tuesday, and Singapore Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan and Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan subsequently told Malaysia to stop its intrusions and leave the area.

On Thursday, Singapore also extended its port limits off Tuas to track the eastern boundary of the Johor Baru port limits Malaysia had gazetted in 1999.

Datuk Saifuddin said Malaysia had protested to Singapore against this move.

Yesterday, three Malaysian government vessels continued to remain in the area despite repeated warnings by Singapore agencies.

Such vessels have made at least 14 intrusions in the area since Nov 24.



Singapore Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen issued a strong caution to the vessels to leave the area.

He said Singapore navy and Police Coast Guard craft have been patrolling these waters for 20 years or more. "Out of nowhere, Malaysian government vessels now claim these waters as theirs and have been continually intruding since November. These are serious violations of Singapore's sovereignty."

The MFA spokesman called on the Malaysian vessels to "forthwith cease these provocative violations of Singapore sovereignty and return to the status quo ante before Oct 25, 2018, without prejudice to our respective positions on maritime boundary claims in the area".

"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," MFA added.

Environment and Water Resources Minister Masagos Zulkifli said Malaysia's unilateral move went against the positive ties that the leaders and people of both countries wanted.

He added: "What is clear is that we will deal with this issue firmly and calmly. The people are united."


























MPs question motives behind territorial waters dispute, call for unity in Singapore
They share video on Malaysia's territorial claim as one of 3 key developments testing relations
By Adrian Lim, Political Correspondent, The Straits Times, 8 Dec 2018

Singapore politicians have taken to social media this week to urge the people to rally together in the face of an ongoing territorial dispute with Malaysia.

Writing on their Facebook pages, they also explained the issue and its significance, as well as questioned the motives for Malaysia's actions.

The row erupted into the open early this week, and at least five MPs have responded to the events in the past two days.

Speaker of Parliament Tan Chuan-Jin shared a video which framed Malaysia's recent extension of the Johor Baru port limits - which have encroached into Singapore's waters off Tuas - as one of three key developments that are testing bilateral relations.

The other two issues are Malaysia wanting to review water prices and its intention to reclaim the management of the airspace over southern Johor, which Singapore has been doing for more than four decades since 1973/1974.



Questions were posed in the clip: "Why is Malaysia doing all this? Pressure tactics? To distract attention from domestic issues? To test the mettle of our leadership? To destabilise Singapore? To create racial divide? To test our racial harmony and unity?"

The two-minute clip, which Mr Tan urged Singaporeans to share, also called on citizens to "stay calm, stay firm" and to be psychologically prepared for the long haul.



Mr Tan, an MP for Marine Parade GRC, said: "We are putting these out because it needs to be done, given the developments and the stakes. If you prefer to believe the rhetoric from the other side, go ahead. But don't mask it in the name of being circumspect and being balanced."

He added: "No one is trying to be jingoistic. The call is to stay vigilant, resolute and united."

Sharing the same video on Facebook, Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC MP Alex Yam said the Singapore Armed Forces and security agencies stand ready to defend the nation's sovereignty. "Never take our survival, sovereignty and success for granted. Singapore and Singaporeans must ultimately stay united," Mr Yam wrote.

Tampines GRC MP Cheng Li Hui said: "Grateful for the men and women protecting us. Let us stay united and strong."

Other MPs who have weighed in on the issue include Mr Seah Kian Peng (Marine Parade GRC) and Dr Chia Shi-Lu (Tanjong Pagar GRC).

Dr Chia said the issue is perplexing and hopes the matter can be resolved quickly.

Yesterday, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen also took to social media to warn errant Malaysian vessels to stay out of Singapore's waters.

There have been 14 incursions from Malaysian government ships in the past two weeks.

Singapore also said yesterday that it disagreed with Malaysia's proposal for both countries to cease and desist from sending assets into the disputed area, and reiterated the call for Malaysian government vessels to stop the incursions.

On social media, many Singaporeans gave their take on why Malaysia was choosing to claim now as its own the waters that Singapore has been patrolling.

Echoing a term used by retired diplomat Bilahari Kausikan, some said Singapore was being used as a "bogeyman" for Malaysia to rally domestic support for its government amid political uncertainty.

One Facebook user, Idge Imbrulia, said on The Straits Times Facebook page that Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad was using Singapore as a distraction from domestic problems, such as Kuala Lumpur's non-ratification of a United Nations convention against racial discrimination.

Malaysia's major dailies did not give the territorial dispute much play.





































New Johor Baru port limits go beyond Kuala Lumpur's past claims: Khaw Boon Wan
Khaw shows how Malaysia had never claimed area before, explains Singapore's own expansion
By Karamjit Kaur, Senior Aviation Correspondent, The Straits Times, 7 Dec 2018

For more than 20 years, Malaysia had claimed certain waters west of Tuas as its own and acknowledged that Singapore's waters lay beyond that, Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan said yesterday.

But in expanding the Johor Baru port limits recently, Malaysia extended its claims into Singapore waters, he added, showing this development in a series of charts.

"They never made a claim on this area. These are our waters," he said.

"But now, on Oct 25, they decided to cross their own claim boundaries into Singapore waters and claim them as their waters."

Singapore's expansion of its port limits yesterday covers more or less the same area that Malaysia suddenly laid claim to on Oct 25.

Singapore's message is clear: "Back off" because these waters belong to Singapore, Mr Khaw added.

He explained that where there are ports, it is common for limits to be marked to make clear where port activities such as bunkering take place. Ships that call at the port also park within the demarcated zone.

Mr Khaw said: "So, each country declares its own port limits, but obviously, you can only declare port limits within your own territories. You cannot be drawing port limits into my land, for example."

Countries are free to define and adjust their port limits, he said.

"You don't need to get approval from your neighbours because it is within your territory - and that is the bottom line. You can only define port limits within your own boundaries," he stressed.



Pointing to a chart showing Singapore's expanded port limits, Mr Khaw said during a media briefing: "We are expanding our port limits by this shaded area. But unlike the Malaysian adjustments, ours is within our own territorial waters."

He stressed: "We do it properly, in accordance with international law, and certainly do not infringe on our neighbour's rights."

The last time Singapore amended its port limits was in 1997.



Asked what the Republic will do if neighbouring and other countries refuse to accept the expanded port limits, Mr Khaw said: "They have to comply. They must comply. This is our waters."

He stressed that Singapore will not hesitate to take "firm actions against intrusions and unauthorised activities in our waters to protect our territory and sovereignty".

Mr Khaw said that for more than 20 years, Singapore has exercised jurisdiction over its territorial waters, including its port limits.

"Our security vessels patrol this area. We do it all the time, and whenever there are intrusions, we chase them away, we protest, we enforce. This is our area.

"They knew our activities - 'they' meaning Malaysia. They are familiar with our activities for more than 20 years. They never protested. They never made a claim on this area," he said.

"Now, out of the blue, Malaysia is claiming these territorial waters that belong to Singapore... Malaysia is seeking to alter unilaterally the long-standing status quo in the area," Mr Khaw added.



He noted there have been 14 intrusions into Singapore territorial waters off Tuas since Nov 24, and showed a video detailing some of these instances.

"Our security agencies are enforcing this area, informing them, telling them to get out, move away, and so on," he said. "Against all these aggressions, we have been extremely restrained, but I think we have a job to do... If need be, we will take more firm actions."

Mr Khaw did not say what these actions could include.





















Latest disagreement with Malaysia saddens Khaw Boon Wan, sparks feeling of deja vu
But minister says he senses younger Malaysian leaders want fresh relationship with Singapore, free of any baggage
By Yasmine Yahya, Senior Political Correspondent, The Straits Times, 7 Dec 2018

Having been in government service for 40 years, and observed the ups and downs of Singapore-Malaysia relations, Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan found the events of the past few days eerily familiar.

As the disagreements over territorial waters and airspace management flared, seemingly out of nowhere, Mr Khaw, who is also the Coordinating Minister for Infrastructure, had the feeling he had seen it all before.



"I am very saddened by this development... and I couldn't help feeling a sense of deja vu," he said yesterday, referring to Malaysia's decision to unilaterally expand the Johor Baru port limits in a manner that encroached into Singapore's territorial waters, and to send its enforcement vessels into these waters.

Mr Khaw revealed that from Nov 24 to Dec 5, there have been 14 incursions by Malaysian government vessels into Singapore's waters. This happened when the two sides appeared to have turned a corner in their ties.

He said: "When I discussed the high-speed rail (HSR) project with (Malaysia's Economic Affairs) Minister Azmin Ali, I had a distinct feeling that the young ministers in Malaysia want a fresh relationship with Singapore, without any past baggage.

"There is so much we can gain, working together. I believe the citizens on both sides of the Causeway also expect the younger leadership of both sides to work together for a brighter, win-win future."

That is why for the HSR project, Singapore chose not to exercise the full legal extent of the agreement that it had signed with Malaysia, he said.

There were no provisions in the original deal for a deferment of the HSR line between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. But Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, citing his country's financial constraints after the new government was elected on May 9, wanted to put the project on hold.

Mr Khaw said: "We sat down, thought through what exactly are their concerns and constraints, and creatively worked out an alternative way to allow Malaysia to defer the high-speed rail project and all in the spirit of bilateral cooperation."

Before territorial waters and airspace made the headlines, the issue of water had also cropped up, with Tun Dr Mahathir saying that he wanted to increase the price of raw water supply to Singapore by more than 10 times. This was despite a water agreement between the two countries being in place.

Dr Mahathir had also recently revived the idea of a crooked bridge to replace the Causeway, an idea he had mooted before he retired from his first stint as prime minister in 2003. The project - which would see a six-lane S-shaped highway for vessels to pass under - was dropped by his successor Abdullah Badawi, which led to Dr Mahathir opposing him.

Mr Khaw was asked if these episodes - reviewing the HSR and the price of water, reviving the idea of a crooked bridge to replace the Causeway, and the latest rows over airspace and territorial waters - were isolated incidents or whether there was something bigger in play.

"You can draw your own conclusion," he said.

"Is there a pattern? I hope not," he added. "But having been in service for so many years... I have this sense of the feeling of deja vu."

"But I hope (this is not a pattern) because I always take an optimistic approach," he added.



Mr Khaw said that he was not in favour of involving any third party at this point to resolve the current maritime dispute.

"I think we should try to resolve it bilaterally, you know, even before you think about bringing in third parties. But the key point is, I think, let's do it professionally, do it with mutual respect, and good sense I am sure will prevail."

Mr Khaw stressed that Malaysia and Singapore had a lot to gain by working together. They could cooperate on regional and global markets, tourism, manufacturing, logistics and even transport hubs.

"Why must we pursue a destructive path, beggar thy neighbour? What for? When, if we work together, there are so many things we can achieve together," he said.

At the same time, he was clear that Singaporeans had to be kept apprised of the latest developments. "While we seek cooperation and friendship with other countries, we must never let other countries take advantage of us," said Mr Khaw.




ASEAN can achieve more as a united team

Malaysia's unilateral decision to expand the Johor Baru port limits into Singapore's territorial waters has merely reinforced the fact that while the two near and dear neighbours may be twins with a shared heritage, they are at most fraternal ones who have embarked on very different developmental paths (S'pore rebuts Mahathir's claim over JB port limits; Dec 6).

Malaysian Transport Minister Anthony Loke asserted that "it is trite law that land reclamation does not extend a state's basepoints and/or baselines".

Can he share what inspired his country's provocative intrusions in recent weeks?

To what extent are the massive land reclamation works taking place off western Johor a contributing factor to the alteration of the port limits, as these have clearly impeded shipping access to Tanjung Pelapas?

It seems rather odd that Mr Loke should be urging Singapore not to confuse the global maritime community with its efforts to protect its sovereignty according to international law when it is Malaysia that has unilaterally upset the apple cart with this latest bout of provocations.



Competition between countries is an existential fact of life.

The least that Malaysia can do is to adhere to a rules-based order that it strongly advocates, along with Singapore, and ensure a conducive environment for bilateral ties to flourish.

There is a lot that both Malaysia and Singapore can accomplish together along with our close neighbour Indonesia, in taking the Singapore-Johor-Riau growth triangle to new heights across many realms, including in the maritime, aviation and other transport and logistics-related industries.

Johor, Singapore and the Riau Islands will be stronger as one sub-regional team of ASEAN by leveraging and complementing one another's strengths to better compete with other similar set-ups in north Asia and elsewhere.

Toh Cheng Seong
ST Forum, 7 Dec 2018










Bilateral disputes over territorial waters
The Straits Times, 7 Dec 2018

1979

Malaysia publishes a map depicting the limits of the territorial waters it claims, including in the areas in the eastern and western approaches to Singapore. This is the same map Malaysia used when claiming Pedra Branca as its own.

1980

Singapore lodges a diplomatic protest with Malaysia over its 1979 map, asserting that the boundary lines in the map, with respect to the areas in the eastern and western approaches to Singapore, are unacceptable to Singapore, and that Pedra Branca belongs to Singapore.

1987

Malaysia publishes its Johor Baru port limits, which track the territorial sea limits claimed in its 1979 map.

1995

Singapore and Malaysia conclude an agreement to delimit the territorial waters boundary in accordance with the Straits Settlements and Johore Territorial Waters Agreement 1927.

1997

Singapore's port limits to the west of Raffles Lighthouse are extended slightly for better regulation of shipping traffic in the vicinity.

1999

Malaysia publishes its amended Johor Baru port limits, which still track the territorial sea limits claimed in its 1979 map.



2018

Oct 25: Malaysia issues a government gazette extending the Johor Baru port limits, which encroach into Singapore's territorial waters off Tuas.

The altered port limits extend significantly eastward beyond the territorial sea claim in the area made in Malaysia's 1979 map.

Nov 5: Singapore issues a Third Person Note (TPN) asking Malaysia to amend the gazette to reflect Singapore's sovereignty over these waters. Nov 9: Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan raises the issue with his counterpart Anthony Loke.

Nov 11: A port circular of the new Johor Baru port limits is published by the Marine Department Malaysia.

Nov 22: A notice to mariners is published by the Marine Department Malaysia.

Nov 29: Singapore issues a second TPN, protesting against Malaysia's port circular and notice to mariners. Nov 30: Singapore issues a circular to ship masters and owners to disregard the Malaysian notices. Dec 4: Singapore issues a statement on the dispute and says it will not hesitate to take action against intrusions in its waters.

Dec 5: Malaysia issues a statement and replies to the first TPN, disagreeing that the altered port limits encroach on Singapore's waters.

Dec 6: Singapore extends its port limits off Tuas.









Observers stress need to de-escalate dispute urgently
By Adrian Lim, Political Correspondent, The Straits Times, 7 Dec 2018

The dispute over territorial waters between Singapore and Malaysia needs to be de-escalated urgently, observers said yesterday, as growing tensions could reduce shipping traffic and international trade.

Meanwhile, Singapore can be expected to increase its naval presence in the waters off Tuas to stop the incursions by Malaysian government vessels altogether and protect its maritime sovereignty, they added.

Their comments on the conflict between the two neighbours follow Malaysia's extension of the Johor Baru port limits, which have encroached into Singapore's waters. There have also been 14 intrusions by Malaysian government vessels in the past two weeks.



To thwart further intrusions, Singapore yesterday extended its port limits off Tuas, with Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan saying that the country will not hesitate to take firm actions to protect its sovereignty.

Associate Professor Bilveer Singh of the National University of Singapore said that both countries stand to lose if the dispute continues to escalate.

"The need for de-escalation is very clear. The dispute is happening in a major shipping area, which can affect global maritime traffic," said Prof Singh, who is with the department of political science.

MP Charles Chong, a member of the Government Parliamentary Committee for Defence and Foreign Affairs, pinpointed the incursions as a sticky problem.

"The incursions by the Malaysian vessels are not necessary and do not go towards resolving the issue. Their presence will endanger the navigation of other vessels in a very busy waterway."

Settling the conflict will require "diplomacy at the highest levels from both countries", said Prof Singh, adding that both foreign ministries need to move swiftly.

Associate Professor Alan Chong of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies highlighted a positive sign, saying that both sides have been reiterating the consistent respect for international law in their statements.

"With Malaysia, Singapore needs to put in the extra diplomatic effort by sitting down and talking to them, even if it means restating what has already been said, to give them 'face'," he added.

Agreeing, ISEAS - Yusof Ishak Institute fellow Mustafa Izzuddin said he expected Singapore to step up diplomatic efforts to de-escalate the situation. "Malaysia is likely to prefer the diplomatic route as well to resolve the matter so as to avoid being seen as caving in to Singapore in the eyes of the Malaysian people.

"It is therefore only a matter of time before leaders in both countries sit down behind closed doors and negotiate an amicable solution to the current impasse," he added.

The observers agreed with Singapore's decision to extend its own port limits off Tuas, with Prof Chong calling it a "tit-for-tat" move.

"It is measured retaliation as a way to increase leverage, in anticipation of a negotiated solution."

Prof Singh, however, said: "It is a way of digging in and standing firm in our position. If we do not, the Malaysians will think that what they have done is right." he said.

Singapore's MPs, like Tampines GRC MP Cheng Li Hui, noted that Malaysia has recently sought to revisit longstanding arrangements with Singapore, including seeking to review the price of water.

Ms Cheng said in a Facebook post: "Now, it is about airspace and port limits. In fact, they have made unauthorised intrusions into Singapore territorial waters, and acted aggressively. We mustn't let others take advantage of us."

Tanjong Pagar GRC MP Chia Shi-Lu also took to Facebook, saying he found the extension of the Johor port limits "perplexing and disturbing" as there was no basis for it under international law. He hopes for a quick resolution of the situation.

Speaker of Parliament Tan Chuan-Jin wrote on his Facebook page: "Some of these issues aren't new, but we have been able to build a constructive relationship in recent years."

Mr Tan added: "We have no quarrel with our Malaysian friends. Are these the acts of individuals? Do they reflect the collective intent? It is hard to tell. But the developments are serious."

Marine Parade GRC MP Seah Kian Peng told The Straits Times he hoped that good sense would prevail, adding that a win-win outcome for both countries was possible.

Meanwhile, retired diplomat Bilahari Kausikan said on Facebook that it is "not an accident" that so many old bilateral issues - such as water prices, airspace management and maritime boundaries - have resurfaced after the change of government in Malaysia.

"The new governing coalition is intrinsically unstable and held together by a 93-year-old man. Political uncertainty in Malaysia inevitably leads to Singapore being used as a bogeyman to hold things together," he added.

Dr Mustafa, however, said the newly elected Pakatan Harapan government would prefer to channel its efforts to domestic issues.

"As such, the Malaysian government is likely to prefer a swift resolution to the current impasse rather than let it fester," he added.





Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan urges Malaysia to cease intrusions into Singapore waters
KL asserts port limits are within its waters, objects to new flight procedures for Seletar
By Adrian Lim, Transport Correspondent, The Straits Times, 7 Dec 2018

Singapore told Malaysia on Wednesday (Dec 5) to stop its "provocative intrusions" into the Republic's territorial waters off Tuas as the disagreements between the two countries appeared to sharpen.

In turn, Malaysia lodged two protest notes with Singapore, objecting to the new flight procedures that will be implemented for Seletar Airport next month and asserting that the new Johor Baru port limits were within its own territorial waters - a claim that Singapore had rejected earlier.

Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan outlined Singapore's stance in a phone call to his Malaysian counterpart Saifuddin Abdullah, and stressed that there was an urgent need to avoid escalating tensions on the ground and to comply with international law, Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) said in a statement.

These developments came a day after simmering disputes between Singapore and Malaysia over territorial waters and airspace management came to light.



Neither side took a step back on Wednesday. Malaysian Transport Minister Anthony Loke said Singapore's claims that the new Johor Baru port limits encroached into Singapore waters were inaccurate.

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad also said that Malaysia was still within its own waters with the extension.

Refuting this, the Ministry of Transport (MOT) said that Singapore's territorial waters extend westward of its current port limits around Tuas.

"Accordingly, the purported extension of the Johor Baru port limits encroaches into Singapore's territorial waters in the area and is a serious violation of Singapore's sovereignty and international law," the MOT spokesman added.

The extension, first published in a Malaysian government gazette on Oct 25, has resulted in vessels from the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency and Marine Department Malaysia making repeated incursions into Singapore's waters over the past two weeks.

In his call to Datuk Saifuddin yesterday, Dr Balakrishnan said this "series of provocative intrusions" by Malaysian government vessels has taken place despite Singapore's diplomatic protests.



The MFA said Dr Balakrishnan also told his counterpart that the Johor Baru port limit now "extends beyond even the limits of Malaysia's territorial sea claim in the area, as set out in Malaysia's own 1979 map, which Singapore has never accepted".

This 1979 map showed that Pedra Branca fell under Malaysia's territory, which Singapore had protested against. In a 2008 ruling, the International Court of Justice awarded the island to Singapore.

During his call to Mr Saifuddin, Dr Balakrishnan also touched on the discussions on airspace issues between Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan and Mr Loke.

Two days ago, citing sovereignty, Mr Loke said Malaysia intends to reclaim the management of the airspace over southern Johor, which had been delegated to Singapore. Mr Khaw had said that management of the skies had nothing to do with sovereignty.

Emphasising that Singapore respected Malaysia's sovereignty, Dr Balakrishnan also told Mr Saifuddin that it was in the "interest of both countries to ensure the safety of civil aviation over our skies".

This meant ensuring that the safety and efficiency of civilian air traffic was not compromised and was in line with International Civil Aviation Organisation processes, he stressed.

Dr Balakrishnan also told his counterpart "that Singapore and Malaysia should continue to discuss these issues constructively".









Singapore rebuts Mahathir's claim over Johor Baru port limits
Malaysian leader says they do not touch border, while Republic calls extension a serious violation
Singapore reiterates that extension of Johor Baru port limits encroaches into Singapore territorial waters
By Shannon Teoh, Malaysia Bureau Chief, The Straits Times, 7 Dec 2018

Malaysia's Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad's statement yesterday that altered port limits for Johor Baru port did not touch Singapore's border drew a firm response from the Singapore Government.

"Malaysian PM Mahathir claimed that the recent purported extension of the Johor Baru port limits has not 'touched' Singapore's border. Singapore reiterates that Singapore's territorial waters do extend westward of our current port limits around Tuas," a spokesman for Singapore's Ministry of Transport said.

"Accordingly, the purported extension of the Johor Baru port limits encroaches into Singapore's territorial waters in the area and is a serious violation of Singapore's sovereignty and international law," the spokesman added.



Tun Dr Mahathir told reporters on the sidelines of an event in Selangor: "We can measure to see if it is true or not, but we had not touched their border." He added: "We are still within our own waters."

But in a call between the foreign ministers of both countries, Singapore's Dr Vivian Balakrishnan told Malaysia's Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah that the altered Johor Baru port limit "now extends beyond even the limits of Malaysia's territorial sea claim in the area, as set out in Malaysia's own 1979 map". Singapore has never accepted that map.

The exchange came a day after two disputes between the neighbours became public on Tuesday.



Malaysian Transport Minister Anthony Loke told his country's Parliament that Kuala Lumpur planned to retake control of airspace over south Johor that had been delegated to Singapore. He said Malaysia was also protesting against new flight procedures - the Instrument Landing System (ILS) - from Seletar Airport on the grounds that it would stunt development of Johor's Pasir Gudang industrial district.

Singapore's Transport Ministry disclosed on the same day that it had lodged a strong protest with Kuala Lumpur over the move to unilaterally extend the Johor Baru port limits as this encroached into the Republic's territorial waters. The ministry also said vessels from Malaysia's Maritime Enforcement Agency and Marine Department had repeatedly intruded into Singapore waters off Tuas, and that Singapore had protested against these unauthorised movements and assertions of sovereignty.



In a statement yesterday, Mr Loke said that "Malaysia finds Singapore's claims to be inaccurate as the altered port limits for Johor Baru port have not in any way encroached into any part of Singapore".

He suggested the dispute was due to land reclamation, saying: "Singapore has in recent years carried out extensive land reclamation in the area in question. In accordance with international law, the territorial sea of Singapore remains unchanged even when reclamation has been carried out almost to the outer limits of Singapore's territorial sea."

Mr Loke claimed the altered port limits are within Malaysia's territorial sea, and urged Singapore to withdraw its Nov 30 circular instructing ship masters and owners of vessels to disregard Malaysia's notices, which Singapore said impinged on the Republic's sovereignty.



In the afternoon, Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) issued a statement on Dr Balakrishnan's phone call with Mr Saifuddin. Dr Balakrishnan urged Malaysia to "cease its intrusions so as to comply with international law and to avoid escalating tensions on the ground".

On airspace issues, which Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan had discussed with Mr Loke, Dr Balakrishnan emphasised that Singapore respected Malaysia's sovereignty, and that it was in the interest of both countries to ensure the safety of civil aviation over the skies.

He conveyed to Mr Saifuddin that "any proposal should ensure that the safety and efficiency of civilian air traffic were not compromised and remained in accordance with ICAO standards, processes and procedures". ICAO refers to the International Civil Aviation Organisation.

Dr Balakrishnan also said that "Singapore and Malaysia should continue to discuss these issues constructively, and emphasised the importance of maintaining a good bilateral relationship between close neighbours and compliance with international law", MFA added.

In the evening, Malaysia's Foreign Ministry issued a statement to say that Malaysia had conveyed two protest notes through the Singapore High Commissioner in Kuala Lumpur.

The first reiterated Malaysia's call for the immediate withdrawal of the publication of the ILS and approach procedures for Seletar Airport by Singapore.

The second rejected Singapore's position that the new Johor Baru port limits had encroached on the Republic's territorial waters off Tuas and violated its sovereignty and international law.



"It is within Malaysia's right as a sovereign state to deploy its enforcement and implementation agencies within its territorial sea," the Malaysian statement said.

"The Malaysian government is confident that both countries acknowledge and value the good and strong bilateral relations," it added, noting these sentiments were expressed most recently by both countries' prime ministers when Dr Mahathir visited Singapore last month.

"For this reason, it is important to avoid any acts which may lead to escalation and fuel tension," it said, adding that Malaysia has proposed a meeting between both foreign ministries to discuss outstanding maritime boundary issues.





Singapore-KL ties hit by disputes over waters and airspace
Singapore protests against move to extend Johor Baru port limits as Malaysia seeks to retake control of airspace
By Zakir Hussain, News Editor, The Straits Times, 5 Dec 2018

Singapore-Malaysia ties took a sudden turn on two fronts yesterday, as simmering disputes over airspace and territorial waters came into the open.

Singapore said it had lodged a strong protest with Kuala Lumpur over its move to extend the Johor Baru port limits to encroach into the Republic's territorial waters off Tuas.

The Republic added that it would not hesitate to take firm action against intrusions and unauthorised activities in its waters.

"Singapore has protested the unauthorised movements of, and purported assertions of sovereignty by, these vessels, which are inconsistent with international law," it said.

"The Republic of Singapore Navy and the Police Coast Guard are safeguarding the sovereignty of Singapore territorial waters and enforcing the security of these waters on a 24/7 basis," it added.

Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan said the Malaysian actions "are clearly a violation of our sovereignty and international law".



The maritime clash surfaced just hours after Malaysia's Transport Minister said Kuala Lumpur planned to retake charge of managing airspace over south Johor that had long been delegated to the Republic, drawing a swift response from his Singapore counterpart.

"It is not our stance to take a confrontational approach," said Mr Anthony Loke. "But this involves our sovereignty, which the Malaysian government will defend in the strongest terms."



This drew a swift response from Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan, who said: "Airspace management has nothing to do with sovereignty, and many countries have their airspace, or at least part of (it), managed by other countries."

Rather, it was about safety and efficiency, he added.

On the maritime front, Singapore's Ministry of Transport said Malaysia announced the change to Johor Baru port limits in a notice in the Federal Government Gazette on Oct 25. Over the past two weeks, vessels from the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency and Marine Department Malaysia have also repeatedly intruded into these territorial waters, the ministry added.

Malaysia also issued a port circular on Nov 11 and a notice to mariners on Nov 22 on the limits.



Singapore responded by lodging a strong protest with Malaysia. It asked it to amend the notices "to reflect the sovereignty of Singapore over the waters in question, and that Malaysia refrain from taking any further unilateral action".

The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore also issued a circular on Nov 30 instructing ship masters and owners of vessels to disregard Malaysia's three notices, "which impinge on Singapore's sovereignty".

The Ministry of Transport added: "Malaysia's purported extension of the Johor Baru port limits and the repeated intrusions by Malaysian government vessels into Singapore territorial waters are a serious violation of Singapore's sovereignty and international law. These actions are unconducive to good bilateral relations, cause confusion for the international shipping community, and lead to increased navigational and safety risks for all parties.

"Singapore stands ready to engage with Malaysia to resolve these matters amicably, in accordance with international law," it said.



Asked if there is a concern that the issues over airspace and port limits could escalate, Mr Khaw said he hoped not. "We have so many things that we want to work together on."

As for Singapore's actions over its waters, he added: "If you intrude into our space, there will be warnings: Move on, move away... There are standard rules of engagement.

"We do not want a misunderstanding which leads to an unnecessary accident or worse, then suddenly we have a crisis to handle."





























Seletar procedures aligned with existing flight paths, says Singapore's Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan
The Straits Times, 5 Dec 2018

Malaysia's Transport Minister Anthony Loke yesterday said Kuala Lumpur objected to new flight procedures for the upgraded Seletar Airport as they would "stunt development" around the Pasir Gudang industrial district in Johor.

He told Malaysia's Parliament that these would impose height restrictions on buildings in the area and affect port activities.

In reply, Singapore's Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan told reporters that these procedures were in line with standards set by the International Civil Aviation Organisation. They were shared with Malaysia a year ago, but KL replied only recently with its concerns.



Mr Khaw said he found this "strange" - as the procedures were aligned with existing flight paths that had been used for decades.

"There have always been flights up north, so the procedures take into account existing entities in Pasir Gudang... so that you can avoid them, and so on," he added.

The Transport Ministry also said there are existing procedures and equipment to ensure shipping in the Johor Strait is not affected.










Singapore's Transport Ministry releases documents on consultations with Malaysia on proposed new flight paths over Seletar Airport
By Adrian Lim, Political Correspondent, The Straits Times, 5 Dec 2018

Singapore's Transport Ministry yesterday released documents that show consultations with Malaysia on the proposed Instrument Landing System (ILS) procedures for Seletar Airport.

The documents, which date back to December last year, include e-mails sent by the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) to its counterpart in Malaysia, and an extract of the minutes of a meeting between both countries.

DEC 5, 2017

CAAS presents to Malaysia the implementation plan for the ILS at Seletar Airport and the broad timeline.

It was done in Kuala Lumpur during the 277th Standing Committee to the Aviation Consultative Committee Meeting.

CAAS also gives an update that a new passenger terminal building will be built for Malaysian airline Firefly to operate services between Seletar and Subang.


Based on CAAS' timeline presented on Dec 5 last year, the ILS is scheduled to be published in the Aeronautical Information Publication on May 31 this year, and to take effect on Aug 16.

In the minutes of the meetings, the Department of Civil Aviation, the predecessor of the Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia (CAAM), said it would study the details of the presentation.

DEC 6, 2017

CAAS sends an e-mail to CAAM asking for its operational feedback on the ILS procedures. Documents on the ILS are attached in the e-mail.

JUNE 6, 2018

CAAS sends another e-mail asking for updates on its earlier request to CAAM for feedback.


Yesterday, the ministry said in a statement that CAAS did not receive any reply to these e-mails.

AUG 7, 2018

The managements of CAAS and CAAM meet in Kuala Lumpur for Singapore to provide more details on the Seletar ILS procedures. CAAS' management asks CAAM for urgent operational feedback.

AUG 15, 2018

CAAS sends an e-mail to follow up on the Aug 7 meeting. The e-mail stresses the urgency of the matter, and requests CAAM's response by Aug 27.

There is no reply from CAAM.

Yesterday, the ministry said CAAS continued to engage CAAM via e-mails and letters and on the sidelines of an International Civil Aviation Organisation event.



NOV 29, 2018

CAAS meets CAAM in Singapore. CAAM raises its technical concerns about the Seletar ILS procedures. CAAS addresses CAAM's concerns, and conveys its intentions to publish the procedures on Dec 1.

NOV 30, 2018

CAAS meets CAAM in Kuala Lumpur to discuss the records of the Nov 29 meeting. CAAM does not raise new concerns, said the ministry.















Observers see Singapore-KL disputes over airspace and waters continuing for some time
By Adrian Lim, Political Correspondent and Shannon Teoh, Malaysia Bureau Chief, The Straits Times, 5 Dec 2018

The disputes between Singapore and Malaysia over airspace and territorial waters, which surfaced yesterday, are likely to continue for some time under the government of Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, observers said.

Hours after Malaysian Transport Minister Anthony Loke announced Kuala Lumpur's intention to reclaim airspace over southern Johor which had long been delegated to Singapore to manage, the Republic highlighted its concern over Kuala Lumpur extending the Johor Baru port limits to encroach on Singapore's waters.

ISEAS - Yusof Ishak Institute fellow Mustafa Izzuddin said the recent moves could be due to "domestic pressures confronting the Malaysian government to safeguard its own national interests", and to demonstrate to its people that it is strong and competent.


The newly elected government also seeks to "gain political mileage from its domestic populace as these overtures will go down well with the general public in Malaysia and, in particular, Johoreans", he said.




Bilateral ties went through a rocky patch when Tun Dr Mahathir was prime minister from 1981 to 2003.

Such tensions do not bode well for the region, said one expert. "If Singapore-Malaysia relations become increasingly strained, it will be damaging for Asean as a whole as these two countries, along with Thailand, have traditionally driven economic integration in the region," said Mr Peter Mumford, Asia director of the Eurasia Group.


Pacific Research Centre's principal adviser Oh Ei Sun said he does not think the new Johor Baru port limits are a deliberate provocation, and they can be resolved after clarification.


He said that past experience shows an "almost established pattern" as to how territorial disputes between Singapore and Malaysia find resolution.


"Usually, it is public proclamations of violation of sovereignty, followed by intensive bilateral negotiations, failing which it would be mutual submission for arbitration or adjudication," said Mr Oh.


"This sets a very good example as to how neighbouring countries could resolve their territorial disputes maturely and peacefully."


Asked whether there is a concern that the recent issues could escalate, Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan said yesterday that he hoped this would not happen.


"It is certainly not conducive for bilateral relations. We have so many things that we want to work together on. The potential for doing much more is huge," he added.




Speaker of Parliament Tan Chuan-Jin said in a Facebook post: "Looks like some countries are back to their old tricks and games to bolster their own internal positions. Let's stand firm. Let's stand united."




















Singapore makes its point after Malaysia says it wants to take back management of airspace over south Johor
Managing airspace not tied to sovereignty, says Khaw Boon Wan
He says there must be reasons for change, such as boosting safety and efficiency
By Adrian Lim, Political Correspondent and Shannon Teoh, Malaysia Bureau Chief, The Straits Times, 5 Dec 2018

Management of the skies has "nothing to do with sovereignty", Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan said yesterday after Malaysia signalled that it wanted to reclaim its rights to run the airspace over southern Johor.

Mr Khaw said the airspace was delegated to Singapore's management under an agreement with regional states, including Malaysia, in 1973, and this was approved by an international body, the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).

Moreover, it is not a "straightforward" decision to just alter the status quo, and under ICAO processes, there must be a reason for the change, such as improvements to safety and efficiency, Mr Khaw told reporters at Seletar Airport.

He was responding to Malaysian Transport Minister Anthony Loke, who told the Malaysian Parliament yesterday that Malaysia intends to take back the delegated airspace over southern Johor in stages, starting next year.

The move follows Malaysia's objection to new flight procedures proposed for Seletar Airport. Mr Loke said Malaysia first informed Singapore early last month that it wants to take back the airspace in phases.



In a statement, Singapore's Ministry of Transport (MOT) replied that the Republic respects Malaysia's sovereignty, and that cross-border airspace management "is not incompatible with sovereignty".

MOT said that under the current arrangements, Singapore is responsible for putting in place the flight procedures in the delegated airspace, which include those for flights going into and out of all airports in Singapore.

In 1974, Singapore and Malaysia also inked a bilateral agreement on the arrangements that would ensure efficient air traffic flows into, out of and overflying Singapore.

"The airspace in this region is one of the most complex in the world. Air traffic growth is one of the fastest in the world. The benefits to both our economies and our people have been tremendous," said MOT.

"The current airspace arrangements have been working well and have facilitated this growth. Hence, any proposed changes will impact many stakeholders. Consultations will therefore be required to minimise the impact on airlines and passengers," MOT added.

Many countries have their airspace, or at least a part of it, managed by other countries. For example, Brunei's upper airspace is managed by Malaysia under the Kota Kinabalu Flight Information Region. Malaysia also manages Indonesian airspace in the waters around Kuching International Airport.

Malaysia has also protested against new flight procedures that will be implemented next month at Seletar Airport. "It is not our stance to take a confrontational approach with any party, much less our neighbours. But this involves our sovereignty, which the Malaysian government will defend in the strongest terms," Mr Loke said.



Mr Khaw said that these procedures, called the Instrument Landing System (ILS), are aligned with existing flight paths into Seletar, and that these flight profiles have been used for decades. They have also been designed to be in line with ICAO standards.

The ILS enables pilots to approach the airport and runway in a safer and more precise manner, through the use of instruments, rather than by sight.

The use of ILS is part of the shift of turboprop operations from Changi Airport to Seletar Airport, which Singapore informed Malaysia of four years ago.

Mr Loke told Parliament yesterday that Kuala Lumpur did not agree to the new flight paths because "they will stunt development" around the Pasir Gudang industrial district.



The new flight paths will impose height restrictions on buildings in the area, and port activities will also be affected, he said, adding that existing tall structures meant the ILS path was technically in breach of ICAO standards.

"This contradicts the principle of national sovereignty provided for under the Convention on International Civil Aviation. The Foreign Ministry will issue a protest note to Singapore immediately concerning this breach of sovereignty," he said.

Singapore's MOT said the ILS procedures were shared with the Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia (CAAM) in December last year.

"However, despite repeated reminders, we received no substantive response from CAAM until late November 2018," MOT said.

Mr Khaw said that he found it "kind of strange" that Malaysia had concerns over the ILS. "There have always been flights up north, so the procedures take into account existing entities in Pasir Gudang," he said.

MOT also said that the new procedures "do not impose any additional impact on other airspace users as well as businesses and residents in Johor".

It said it has noted Malaysia's intent to provide air traffic services in the airspace over southern Johor.

"We need to work together to tackle our common challenges and find constructive ways to resolve our differences when interests diverge. With goodwill, a win-win outcome is possible," MOT said.














The way forward must be integration, not fragmentation
By Karamjit Kaur, Senior Aviation Correspondent, The Straits Times, 5 Dec 2018

In 1947, when the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) was set up as a United Nations arm to oversee commercial flights, one of the first things it did was to divide up the sky.

Safety was the priority, and the objective was to ensure that the moment a plane took off anywhere in the world, it would be closely watched and guided until it landed.

From the outset, one thing was made clear: While every nation had full sovereignty over its airspace, this did not necessarily mean it would manage flights in its skies.

ICAO would designate flight information regions, or FIRs, based solely on technical and safety considerations to ensure air traffic flowed smoothly and efficiently.

This would inevitably mean that FIRs would cross national airspace boundaries.

It is also the reason why there are close to 200 sovereign nations today and about half the number of FIRs.

In theory, it is a simple system that works like the popular game, pass the parcel - except that in this case, it is an aircraft that is being passed by air traffic controllers from one flight information region to another.

Operationally, the stakes are high, with more than 100,000 flights a day that carry 10 million passengers to their destinations.

Of course, a country that does not manage its own airspace, for whatever reasons, might well seek to reclaim it.

This is exactly what Malaysia has set out to do. It wants to take charge of its airspace in southern Johor, for which Singapore has been providing air traffic services as part of a deal inked between the two countries in 1974.

The big question that must be asked is why, and the answer cannot be "because it is mine".

There are procedures and processes in place to redraw FIR lines, and it is ultimately for the ICAO to decide if a country asking for its airspace to be returned is equipped to safely and efficiently handle flights in the area.

In other words, can it do a better job?



Singapore Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan stressed this point yesterday when he spoke to reporters at Seletar Airport about the ongoing discussions with Malaysia over airspace matters.

Any change must be for the better, and if there is no improvement then there is really no need for change, he said.

It is a point that has also been made previously by the Civil Air Navigation Services Organisation (Canso) - the global voice of the companies that provide air traffic control.

According to a 2013 Canso report, "air navigation services require a global, seamless, delivery-focused model, based on performance, rather than national borders".

"For this to materialise, all stakeholders need a fully developed understanding of the meaning of national sovereignty consistent with present and future political, economic and social realities."

In its latest forecast unveiled last month, the International Air Transport Association (Iata) noted that the number of air travellers could double to 8.2 billion a year in 2037.

The strongest growth will come from the Asia-Pacific: In South-east Asia alone, the number of flights could triple to more than 20,000 a day in 15 years.

To manage the projected growth safely, nations, regulators, air traffic service providers and other stakeholders need to come closer, not move further apart.

The way forward must be integration, not fragmentation.

Breaking the airspace into smaller pieces with more parties managing flights adds complexity, leads to multiple points of coordination and, eventually, could pose more safety risks.

Indeed, this runs counter to what the Asean grouping of 10 nations stands for and hopes to achieve with its plans for a single aviation market that would eventually remove operational and commercial barriers for airlines and aviation-related businesses in the region.





















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