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Singapore/Malaysia reach agreement in maritime dispute

18 Mar 2019

Minister of Foreign Affairs of Malaysia Dato’ Saifuddin Abdullah and Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Singapore Dr Vivian Balakrishnan met in Putrajaya, Malaysia on Thursday (14 March) to resolve maritime issues surrounding the port limits of both countries.

The Ministers discussed the Working Group’s report on maritime issues surrounding the overlapping Johor Bahru Port Limits off Tanjung Piai and Singapore Port Limits off Tuas.

The Foreign Ministers agreed that Malaysia and Singapore shall implement the following five recommendations with effect from 14 March 2019:

  1. To mutually suspend the implementation of their overlapping port limits and apply their port limits in effect prior to 25 October 2018 and 6 December 2018 respectively;
  2. To not authorise and to suspend all commercial activities in the area;
  3. To not anchor government vessels in the area; and
  4. For Malaysia and Singapore vessels to operate in the area in accordance with international law including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). The relevant agencies on both sides will work out practical modalities to avoid untoward incidents in the area;
  5. To establish a committee chaired by the Secretary General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Malaysia, and the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Singapore for boundary delimitation which will ensure implementation of the first four recommendations within one month, and that negotiations for maritime boundary delimitation in the area will commence within one month following such implementation.  

The measures taken by both countries shall be without prejudice to Malaysia’s and Singapore’s respective maritime boundary claims in the area.

In the event that the committee is unable to reach an amicable solution on delimitation, Malaysia and Singapore may mutually agree to resort to an appropriate international third-party dispute settlement procedure on terms to be mutually agreed by the parties.

Both Foreign Ministers agreed that these measures were vital to de-escalate the situation on the ground, and pave the way for maritime boundary delimitation of the area.

“These measures also demonstrate the commitment of both countries to work together to preserve a strong and positive bilateral relationship on the basis of equality and mutual respect, and to resolve bilateral issues amicably in accordance with international law,” they said in a joint statement.

Related: Singapore/Malaysia: Territorial waters solution could come soon
RelatedMPA: Reminder on prohibited anchoring in western Singapore port limits
Related:  Singapore extends port limits off Tuas, within territorial waters
RelatedSingapore: Amendment to reporting procedures for vessels manoeuvring in port
RelatedSingapore/Malaysia discussions on disputed port limit continue
RelatedMalaysia ‘categorically rejects’ Singapore maritime port limit argument
RelatedMPA: Johor Bahru port limit alteration ‘not recognised’ by Singapore

Photo credit: Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Published: 18 March, 2019


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