The Ministry of Transport said yesterday that the documents it made public last Tuesday with regard to flight procedures for Seletar Airport - the Instrument Landing System procedures - were in response to media queries as to whether the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) had consulted its Malaysian counterpart in December last year.
The queries arose from Malaysia's inaccurate claim earlier that day that the matter had come to its attention only two months ago, in October.
The ministry's clarification came after Malaysia's Transport Ministry said yesterday afternoon that the disclosure by the Singapore Transport Ministry was "only partial and selective with the primary aim of influencing public opinion".
In its statement, the Malaysian Ministry of Transport said that while it appreciates the Singapore Ministry of Transport's efforts at promoting transparency, the Singapore ministry should also release the letters from the Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia (CAAM) to its Singapore counterpart. These letters were dated Oct 9, Nov 15 and Nov 28.
"Failing to do so, we are prepared to release the letters for full disclosure of such information for the public's comprehension of our stand on the same," the Malaysian ministry said.
In response, Singapore's Transport Ministry said: "Singapore's view is that it would be useful for negotiations to be kept confidential to facilitate frank and constructive exchanges. This is why we have not released any other correspondence between Singapore and Malaysia on this matter. The Malaysia Minister for Transport, Anthony Loke, had expressed a similar view on Dec 4, 2018."
The ministry added: "Nonetheless, we have no objection if Malaysia feels the need to release correspondence on this matter."
However, for transparency, the Malaysian Ministry of Transport should ensure that all correspondence and records of discussions between Singapore and Malaysia are published, including the record of discussion of the latest meeting between the two countries on Nov 29 and 30.
The first signs of Singapore-Malaysia tensions over Seletar Airport came to light on Nov 23, when Malaysian carrier Firefly made the surprising announcement that it would suspend all flights to Singapore from Dec 1, the day it was supposed to move its operations from Changi Airport to Seletar Airport.
Two days later, CAAS explained that this was because the Malaysia Airlines subsidiary had not received approval from its regulator, CAAM, to make the move.
Firefly had first agreed in 2014 that it would transfer all operations to a new passenger terminal to be built at Seletar to handle turboprop flights, which it operates.
According to CAAM, there are regulatory issues that need to be resolved between the civil aviation authorities of both countries over the proposed move, as well as outstanding airspace issues. This has to do with Malaysia wanting to take back air traffic services for airspace over southern Johor, which were delegated to Singapore in 1974.