In his ministerial statement at the Parliament on January 14, Balakrishnan said that despite these current difficulties, Singapore still hopes to work with Malaysia for better relations, and closer cooperation that benefits both sides.
“However, both sides must act in good faith, in compliance with international law and norms, and honour existing agreements,” he said.
The minister also emphasised that he does not expect a quick or smooth resolution to all these issues but stressed that Singapore will do its best to discuss these issues with Malaysia in a calm, reasonable, and focused manner.
In his statement, Balakrishnan went through Singapore’s stance in airspace, maritime and water disputes with Malaysia.
The maritime dispute was sparked by Malaysia’s unilateral decision to extend the Johor Bahru port limits in October, and the subsequent intrusion of Malaysian government vessels in Singapore waters.
Singapore lodged a strong protest with the Malaysian government over the port limits which it said encroaches into Singapore’s territorial waters off Tuas. It added in a media statement that Malaysia’s actions are “a serious violation of Singapore’s sovereignty and international law”.
In a joint statement issued after a meeting between Balakrishnan and his Malaysian counterpart Saifuddin Abdullah in Singapore on January 8, the two ministers agreed to take measures to ease the tensions related to marine and airspace disputes.
Accordingly, Singapore will cancel the use of Instrument Landing System (ILS) procedures for Seletar airport, which is not far from Malaysia’s Johor state. In return, Malaysia will repeal the no-flight zone in Pasir Gudang town.
Regarding the marine dispute, the two sides agreed to establish a working group to study and discuss legal and operational matters in order to de-escalate the situation on the ground.-VNA
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