Maritime dispute: Singapore & Malaysia suspend overlapping port limits implementation

Singapore & Malaysia
Singapore & Malaysia Pixabay

The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) said in a statement on Monday that the Republic and Malaysia have mutually suspended their overlapping port limit claims, as part of measures to de-escalate tensions between the two countries in a maritime dispute.

The suspension took place at around 12.01 am on Monday. MPA said that now, both the neighbours have implemented their port limits in effect prior to October 25 and December 6, 2018, respectively.

This move was one of the five recommendations made by a bilateral working group on maritime issues. The Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan and his Malaysian counterpart Saifuddin Abdullah 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 on March 14, 2019.

A map showing the territorial boundaries between Singapore and Malaysia, and Singapore's port-limit extension.
A map showing the territorial boundaries between Singapore and Malaysia, and Singapore's port-limit extension. Singapore Ministry of Transport

As reported earlier the dispute occurred after Malaysia extended its Johor Bahru port limits and as per Singapore government that encroaches into the Republic's territorial waters off Tuas on October 25, last year.

Later, Singapore also extended its own port limits off Tuas on December 6 and stated that such move was taken in accordance with international law.

The Working Group's recommendations also include agreeing not to authorise and to suspend all commercial activities as well as not to anchor any government vessels in the unauthorized area. The vessels of both countries will operate in the area based on the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

However, it should be noted that both the ministers from Singapore and Malaysia have agreed to set up a joint committee chaired by the permanent secretary of Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs Chee Wee Kiong and Malaysia's foreign ministry secretary-general Muhammad Shahrul Ikram Yaakob to establish a committee to ensure that the measures are implemented by April 14.

After the implementation, the joint committee will begin negotiations for maritime boundary delimitation in the area.