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.