Singapore makes its point after Malaysia wants to take back management of airspace over south Johor

  • AseanPlus News
  • Tuesday, 04 Dec 2018

Seletar airport in Singapore. - Filepic

SINGAPORE (The Straits Times/Asia News Network):  The Ministry of Transport (MOT) has rejected the contention that Malaysia's sovereignty is compromised in any manner because Singapore provides air traffic services over south Johor.

This came after Malaysia said that it wants to take back the management of airspace over south Johor that it has delegated to Singapore after protesting against new flight paths proposed over Seletar Airport.

"Singapore respects Malaysia's sovereignty," said the MOT on Tuesday (Dec 4). "At the same time international law is clear that cross-border airspace management is not incompatible with sovereignty. The purpose of airspace management is to ensure the safety and efficiency of air traffic."

Singapore also said that the current arrangements - under which providing air traffic services in the airspace above southern Johor was delegated to Singapore - have been approved by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and sealed by an agreement signed between Singapore and Malaysia in 1974.

The response came after Malaysia's Transport Minister Anthony Loke told Parliament on Tuesday that Kuala Lumpur did not agree to the new flight paths because "it will stunt development" around the Pasir Gudang industrial district. 

Loke said Singapore had been informed of this on Nov 28 and 29, but the Republic published these flight paths anyway on Dec 1. These will be effective in January.

Loke said the new flight paths will impose height restrictions on buildings in the area, and port activities will also be affected.

"This contradicts the principle of national sovereignty provided for under the Convention on International Civil Aviation. The Foreign Ministry will issue a protest note to Singapore immediately concerning this breach of sovereignty," he said.

But the MOT said that the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) had informed Malaysia's Transport Ministry in 2014 of the move of turboprop operations to Seletar Airport.

It said it had shared the proposed Instrument Landing System (ILS) procedures with the Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia (CAAM) in December 2017. But, despite repeated reminders, there was no substantive response from CAAM till late last month.

These procedures were designed in line with ICAO standards, which CAAM also acknowledged, said the Singapore authorities. 

They took into account the existing structures at Pasir Gudang and did not impose any additional impact on airspace users or the businesses and residents in Johor, said the MOT.

Earlier, Loke said that Malaysia has also informed Singapore on Nov 29 that it wants to take back the delegated airspace in stages, starting next year.

"It is not our stance to take a confrontational approach with any party, much less our neighbours. But this involves our sovereignty, which the Malaysian government will defend in the strongest terms. This involves our airspace which we will defend, and the interest of Johoreans," he added.

However, such a move would have to be discussed by both countries and be approved by the ICAO.

Singapore's MOT also said: "We note Malaysia's desire to provide air traffic services for the airspace. Any proposal should ensure that the safety and efficiency of air traffic is not compromised and should be in accordance with ICAO standards, processes and procedures." - The Straits Times/Asia News Network

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