Malaysia-Singapore working group had constructive talks over maritime boundaries: MFA

The view from Tuas across the Strait of Johor towards the Johor Baru port. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - A joint working group looking at the maritime boundaries dispute between Singapore and Malaysia met in Putrajaya, Malaysia on Monday (Jan 28), and had "constructive discussions on a set of positive recommendations".

In a statement on Monday, Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the recommendations will be submitted to the foreign ministers of both countries for their consideration when finalised.

The Malaysia-Singapore Working Group was announced by Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan and his Malaysian counterpart Saifuddin Abdullah after they met in Singapore on Jan 8.

It was tasked with studying and discussing the legal and operational matters in order to de-escalate the situation on the ground, and provide a basis for further discussions and negotiations.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs permanent secretary Chee Wee Kiong and his Malaysian counterpart Muhammad Shahrul Ikram Yaakob led the delegations that met in Putrajaya on Monday.

Singapore and Malaysia have been embroiled in a maritime dispute after Kuala Lumpur unilaterally extended its Johor Baru port limits on Oct 25 last year, encroaching on Singapore's territorial waters off Tuas.

As a result, Malaysian government vessels had entered Singapore's waters.

The new boundary line extends beyond what Malaysia had previously claimed as its own waters in a 1979 map, which Singapore has never accepted.

Singapore on Dec 6 extended its own port limits in response, to cover the full extent of the Republic's territorial waters.

Both countries are also locked in a dispute over Singapore's introduction of new landing procedures for Seletar Airport and Malaysia's subsequent decision to declare a restricted zone over Pasir Gudang for the purpose of military activities.

On Jan 8, Singapore and Malaysia had agreed to a one-month suspension of the restricted area over Pasir Gudang and the new Instrument Landing System (ILS) at Seletar Airport.

Both countries agreed last week to extend their mutual suspension of two measures to March 31.

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