Malaysia will issue a protest note to Singapore over the operation of the instrument landing system (ILS) for Seletar Airport near its border with Johor, says Transport Minister Anthony Loke.
The protest note by Wisma Putra follows Singapore’s decision to start broadcasting ILS early next year despite Malaysia’s decision not to allow it on grounds that it will infringe the nation’s sovereignty and airspace near Pasir Gudang in Johor just 2km away.
ILS is a ground-based instrument (which combines radio signals and high intensity lighting) which provides precision guidance to pilots when approaching and landing, especially when it is raining or at night.
“The broadcast is against the principle of national sovereignty under the Convention of Civil Aviation 1944.
“The government, through Wisma Putra, will issue a protest note immediately to Singapore in connection with the breach of this principle of sovereignty,” he said when answering a question raised by Hassan Abdul Karim (PH-Pasir Gudang) during Minister’s Question Time in Parliament yesterday.
Loke pointed out that ILS would affect development in Pasir Gudang as there would be height restrictions imposed on structures and also affect shipping activities at the Pasir Gudang port.
“The government had decided not to allow Singapore to broadcast its ILS and this decision was conveyed to Singapore on Nov 28 and Nov 29,” he said.
However, despite this, Loke said Singapore would begin broadcasting ILS on Jan 3.
“The government is committed towards defending our sovereignty and to ensure the nation’s interest is safeguarded,” Loke said to thumps of approval from lawmakers.
Loke also said Malaysia had informed Singapore it would be taking back its delegated airspace in phases, which was accorded to Singapore in 1974 under the Operational Letter of Agreement between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore Area Control Centres Concerning Singapore Arrivals, Departures And Overflight (LOA 1974).
He said the nation’s airspace would be reclaimed between 2019 and 2023.
To a supplementary question by Datuk Seri Ahmad Maslan (BN-Pontian), Loke said Malaysia would not take a confrontational approach over the issue but would engage Singapore in further discussions.
At separate press conference after his ministry’s monthly assembly, Loke said Malaysia has no objection on the development of Singapore’s Seletar Airport.
He said Malaysia’s contention is with the proposed new flight paths over Pasir Gudang.
“Aircraft flying over Pasir Gudang’s airspace would have to fly very low.
“We cannot have tall buildings in Pasir Gudang if we allowed the flight path. In fact, there are already some tall buildings in Pasir Gudang which is over the limit, so technically, it is not viable for the flight path to be allowed,” said Loke.
Loke said Singapore could instead fly into Seletar Airport from the south, over Singaporean airspace.
Civil Aviation Authority Malaysia’s (CAAM) Airport Standard Division director Dr Zainul Fuad Md Wahi said it did not receive any communication from its Singapore counterparts on the ILS decision.
“The requirement (to fly over Pasir Gudang) was never communicated to CAAM, and CAAM had never made any indication that we agreed with it, especially when taking into consideration that it would affect the development over Pasir Gudang,” said Dr Zainul at the press conference.
Dr Zainul added the issue surfaced when Malaysia’s Firefly airlines was asked to move its flights from Changi Airport to Seletar.