SINGAPORE: Singapore has suggested extending the mutual suspension of Malaysia’s restricted area over Pasir Gudang and Singapore’s Instrument Landing System (ILS) procedures at Seletar Airport, Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan said on Wednesday (Jan 23).
Writing on Facebook, the minister said he had just had a "heart-to-heart discussion" with his Malaysian counterpart Anthony Loke in Singapore.
"I suggested that we extend the mutual suspension of Malaysia’s Restricted Area over Pasir Gudang and Singapore’s Instrument Landing System procedures at Seletar Airport, to give our officials more discussion time to reach a win-win outcome," said Mr Khaw.
"He will take my suggestion back to his Cabinet colleagues."
This is the third time the two ministers have met, said Mr Khaw, after previous meetings in Putrajaya and Bangkok last year.
"Minister Loke and I will meet again, after the Lunar New Year, to continue the airspace discussion," he added.
READ: Malaysia, Singapore agree to suspend permanent restricted area over Pasir Gudang, ILS for Seletar Airport
It was announced on Jan 8 that Malaysia will immediately suspend its permanent restricted area in the airspace over Pasir Gudang, while Singapore would similarly suspend its implementation of ILS procedures for Seletar Airport.
The suspension would be in place for one month in the first instance, the foreign ministers of both countries had said, after a meeting in Singapore to discuss bilateral issues.
In a separate Facebook post on Wednesday, Mr Loke said that he had had a "fruitful and constructive meeting" with Mr Khaw that morning.
"We agreed on the way forward to solve the Seletar Airport issue and the Civil Aviation Authority of both countries will continue the discussion on the technical aspects," he said.
Singapore and Malaysia have been embroiled in a dispute over Singapore’s introduction of new ILS procedures for Seletar Airport, which Malaysia said would hamper the construction of tall buildings at Johor's Pasir Gudang, to the north of the airport.
Singapore disagrees with this.
The ILS procedure refers to an assisted navigational aviation facility at the airport which provides precision vertical and horizontal guidance to flights descending and approaching the runway.
Singapore had said it is not true that ILS procedures for the northerly approach into Seletar Airport amounted to a violation of Malaysia's sovereignty and international law as its neighbour had alleged.
Singapore's transport ministry had also reiterated that cross-border airspace management is not incompatible with sovereignty, pointing out that instrument flight procedures for some Malaysian airports also extend into the territories of neighbouring states.
READ: Maritime dispute: Singapore security agencies ordered to 'exercise restraint and avoid escalating tensions', says Ng Eng Hen
Another dispute over maritime issues was sparked by Malaysia's unilateral decision to extend the Johor Bahru port limits in October, and the subsequent intrusion of Malaysian government vessels in Singapore waters.
The foreign ministers of both countries had earlier this month agreed to establish a working group to study and discuss legal and operational matters involving the port limits of Singapore and Malaysia. This is to de-escalate the situation on the ground and provide a basis for further discussions and negotiations.