SINGAPORE: Singapore and Malaysia have both suspended their overlapping port limit claims, as part of measures to ease tensions in a maritime dispute between the two neighbours.
The mutual suspension took place at 12.01am on Monday (Apr 8), the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore said. Malaysia and Singapore have now implemented their port limits in effect prior to Oct 25 and Dec 6 last year, respectively.
Malaysia had on Oct 25 gazetted an extension of its Johor Bahru port limits in a manner which Singapore said encroaches into its territorial waters off Tuas.
On Dec 6, Singapore extended its port limits off Tuas, and said it will not hesitate to take “firm actions” against the intrusion of Malaysian government vessels in its waters.
READ: Singapore, Malaysia maritime dispute: A timeline
Singapore had also protested “provocative acts” by Malaysia in recent months, including a visit by Johor Chief Minister Osman Sapian to a Malaysian vessel parked in Singapore waters.
The suspension of overlapping port limit claims is one of five measures recommended by a working group on maritime issues and announced by Singapore’s Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan and his Malaysian counterpart Saifuddin Abdullah on Mar 14.
Other measures announced include the suspension of commercial activities in the area, as well as an agreement not to anchor government vessels there.
READ: Measures to de-escalate Singapore-Malaysia maritime tension first step in long journey: Vivian Balakrishnan
On top of that, Singapore and Malaysia vessels will operate in the area in accordance with international law, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
Both ministers also agreed to establish a committee to ensure that the measures are implemented by Apr 14, after which the committee will begin negotiations for maritime boundary delimitation in the area.