PUTRAJAYA: The newly-altered limits for Johor Baru Port do not encroach into Singapore's territory, said Anthony Loke (pic).
The Transport Minister said Singapore's claims that the extension of the port limits intruded into Singapore waters were “inaccurate”.
“Malaysia has always had and continues to have sovereignty over the waters within the port limits for Johor Bahru Port.
"Singapore has in recent years carried out extensive land reclamation in the area in question," said Loke in a statement on Wednesday (Dec 5).
“It is trite law that land reclamation does not extend a state’s basepoints and/or baselines," he added.
Loke said that in accordance with international law, the territorial sea of Singapore remains unchanged even when reclamation has been carried out almost to the outer limits of Singapore’s territorial seas.
“As such, the altered port limits of Johor Bahru Port are in Malaysia’s territorial sea and it is well within Malaysia’s right to draw any port limit in our territorial sea in accordance with our own national laws," added Loke.
He said that Malaysia has also taken prudent action to accurately promulgate the alteration via our Federal Government Gazette and to issue the necessary Port Circular and Notice to Mariners," said Loke.
He also said it was Malaysia's sovereign right to deploy enforcement agencies in its own territorial sea.
“This practice is fully consistent with international law and, as such, the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency and the Marine Department of Malaysia have not intruded into any of part of Singapore,” he said.
Loke also said Malaysia has called on Singapore to withdraw a Port Marine Circular issued on Nov 30 which instructed vessels to disregard Malaysia's Gazette Notification.
“Malaysia urges Singapore to immediately withdraw its Port Marine Circular and prevent its enforcement agencies from further intruding into Malaysia’s territorial sea and harassing vessels and persons lawfully permitted by Malaysian laws and authorities as well as international law to be present in Malaysia’s territorial sea.
“It is precisely these actions by Singapore that amount to serious violations of Malaysia’s sovereignty and international law and are unconducive to good bilateral relations, cause confusion for the international shipping community and lead to increased navigational and safety risks to all parties,” Loke said.
Loke added that Malaysia is prepared to engage with Singapore through “appropriate diplomatic channels” towards “an amicable resolution” in this matter.