KUALA LUMPUR (Bernama): Johor Menteri Besar Datuk Osman Sapian was in neutral waters and did not trespass into Singaporean territorial waters during his visit to a Malaysian vessel on Jan 9, says Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
While admitting that Osman visited the Malaysian surveillance vessel off Johor Bahru Port without permission from the federal government, Dr Mahathir said he was surprised by the reaction sparked by the matter.
“I mean the reaction to his (Osman) going there is quite severe as if he was going to war.
"He was going to a ship in neutral waters,” the Prime Minister said to a question from the floor after delivering a talk at the Oxford Union that was broadcast live by Astro Awani from London on Saturday (Jan 19).
When the individual who posed the question insisted that Osman had trespassed into Singapore's territorial waters, Dr Mahathir emphasised that the vessel was in international waters.
“It is not Singaporean waters either. It is international waters, and the Menteri Besar can go into international waters without Singapore sending warships to chase him away,” he said.
The Malaysian Foreign Ministry had said on Friday (Jan 18) that it attempted unsuccessfully to stop Osman from making the visit, which Singapore claimed resulted in Osman trespassing into its territorial waters.
Osman has denied that he trespassed into Singaporean waters and his visit to MV Pedoman vessel on Jan 9 was merely to watch Malaysia's security teams doing their job.
However, Singapore insisted that Osman did trespass into its waters and made a protest through a diplomatic note to Wisma Putra dated Jan 11 and also sought the postponement of the 14th meeting of the Joint Ministerial Committee for Iskandar Malaysia (JMCIM) that was scheduled for Jan 14. – Bernama