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MFA confirms 'no Malaysian government vessels' anchored in area previously covered by overlapping port limits

MFA confirms 'no Malaysian government vessels' anchored in area previously covered by overlapping port limits

File photo of tankers in the Strait of Singapore. (File photo: Reuters/Henning Gloystein)

SINGAPORE: Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs has confirmed that "no Malaysian government vessels" were anchored in the area previously covered by overlapping port limits as of midnight on Tuesday (Apr 9).

"We will continue to exercise sovereignty and take appropriate enforcement actions in the area," a ministry spokesperson added in response to media queries.

The comments follow Monday's announcement by Singapore and Malaysia on the suspension of overlapping port limits as part of measures to ease tensions between the two neighbours in a maritime dispute.

The mutual suspension took place at 12.01am on Monday, 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.

READ: Singapore, Malaysia maritime dispute: A timeline

READ: Singapore-Malaysia maritime dispute: Both sides agree to suspend overlapping port limits

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.

This was after the ministers discussed a working group's report on the maritime issues surrounding the overlapping Johor Bahru port limits off Tanjung Piai and Singapore port limits off Tuas.

Other measures announced include the suspension of commercial activities in the area, as well as an agreement not to anchor government vessels there. 

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.

The measures were to be implemented within one month, by Apr 14. 

On Apr 1, Singapore's Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan said in Parliament that two Malaysian government vessels were still anchored in Singapore's territorial waters off Tuas.

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. 

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.

Source: CNA/mn(cy)

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