Malaysia finds Singapore's claims inaccurate as the altered port limits for the Johor Bahru Port have not in any way encroached into Singapore's territory, Transport Minister Anthony Loke said today.
In referring to the press statement by Singapore's Transport Ministry over the matter yesterday, Loke said Malaysia had always had and continue to have sovereignty over the waters within the port limits for the Johor Bahru Port.
Loke pointed out that Singapore had in recent years carried out extensive land reclamation in the area in question and it was trite law that land reclamation did not extend a state’s base points and/or baselines.
In accordance with the international law, the territorial sea of Singapore remained unchanged even when reclamation had been carried out almost to the outer limits of Singapore’s territorial sea, he said.
"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,” he told a press conference after chairing the first National Aviation Council Engagement in Putrajaya today.
Yesterday, the Singaporean government strongly protested Malaysia's move to expand its port boundaries, claiming it would violate sovereignty and international laws, and said it would not hesitate to take firm actions against intrusions and unauthorised activities.
Singapore's Transport Ministry claimed that ships and vessels from Malaysia have been repeatedly intruding into Singapore’s territorial waters off Tuas over the past two weeks, including vessels from the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency and Marine Department of Malaysia.
Loke stressed that Malaysia had also taken prudent action to accurately promulgate the alteration via the Federal Government Gazette and to issue the necessary Port Circulars and Notices to Mariners.
"It is also within Malaysia’s right as a sovereign state to deploy its enforcement and relevant competent agencies in its 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," Loke said.
In view of this, Malaysia urged Singapore to withdraw immediately its Port Marine Circular issued on Nov 30 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, he said.
"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, which can cause confusion for the international shipping community as well as lead to increased navigational and safety risks to all parties,” he said.
Loke also pointed out that Malaysia was prepared to engage with Singapore through appropriate diplomatic channels towards an amicable resolution.