Wisma Putra: Malaysia to take measures to cool tensions with Singapore

PETALING JAYA: The Foreign Ministry have said that Malaysia will take "effective measures" to de-escalate tensions with Singapore.

"The Ministry of Foreign Affairs today called the Singaporean High Commissioner to discuss the latest development arising from the Declaration of Alteration of Port Limits for Johor Baru Port published on Oct 25, 2018, and the Singapore Port Marine Circular No. 9 of 2018 dated Dec 6, 2018.

"During the discussion, the Ministry welcomed Singapore's continued emphasis on the importance of dialogue, and its willingness to engage with Malaysia in resolving matters amicably, along with its consideration of Malaysia's proposed agenda for the bilateral discussion. Malaysia is also agreeable to Singapore's counter-proposed dates in January 2019," said the Ministry in a statement released Monday (Dec 10).

However, it also said that Singapore had declined to cease sending assets into the area as of Dec 8.

"The Ministry referred to Singapore's Diplomatic Note of Dec 8, 2018, in which Singapore declined Malaysia's proposal for both countries to mutually cease and desist sending assets into the disputed area effective 0000 hrs (midnight) on Dec 8, 2018, with a view of promoting de-escalation of tensions on the ground, pending discussions on outstanding maritime boundary issues. Singapore also called upon Malaysia to return to the status quo prior to Oct 25 by immediately withdrawing all Malaysian Government vessels in the area," it said, adding that Malaysia would not agree to their counter-proposal.

"Malaysia will take all effective measures to de-escalate the situation on the ground, reaffirming its position to handle the situation in a calm and peaceful manner.

"In the meantime, Malaysia reiterates the importance of strong bilateral relations between the two countries, and hope that discussions will commence expeditiously," it said.

The dispute started with the declaration by Malaysia, published in the Federal Gazette, of an alteration to the Johor Baru port limits on Oct 25.

Singapore protested the move, claiming it was done unilaterally.