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Number of intruding Malaysian ships in S’pore waters up from one to two: Khaw

SINGAPORE — Five days after Malaysia pulled out a government vessel to leave just one remaining in Singapore's waters, the number has gone back up to two as of Monday (Dec 17), Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan said in an update.

Number of intruding Malaysian ships in S’pore waters up from one to two: Khaw

Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan repeated his call for the Malaysian government vessels in Singapore's waters to leave, stressing that their lingering presence is “not conducive”.

SINGAPORE — Five days after Malaysia pulled out a government vessel to leave just one remaining in Singapore's waters, the number has gone back up to two as of Monday (Dec 17), Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan said in an update.

Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a public transport event, Mr Khaw repeated his call for the ships to leave, stressing that their lingering presence is “not conducive”. There have been as many as three vessels in recent days.

“I don’t think it is a question of counting one, two, or three. Our preference, which we urge them to do, is to withdraw the ships because it is not conducive,” he said. “It is not necessary. It does not make a difference to (Malaysia's) legal claim."

He spoke again of his worry that an unintended and dangerous incident may occur while the ships are in the waters. “(The accident) may not be intended, but then if something happens, (it will be) very troublesome.”

Singapore’s protest, which went public on Dec 4, came after vessels from Malaysia repeatedly intruded into the waters off Tuas in the two weeks before that.

On Oct 25, Malaysia published a declaration where it unilaterally extended the Johor Baru port limits.

The Singapore Government said that it will not hesitate to “take firm action against intrusions and unauthorised activities” in its waters, pointing out that Malaysia’s purported move to expand its port boundaries violates its sovereignty and international laws.

The two countries are also caught in a dispute over airspace. Singapore plans to use the Instrument Landing Systems (ILS) at Seletar Airport from Jan 3 next year, but Malaysia is saying that the flight path used by the system will encroach into its airspace, potentially affecting the development of the Johor Baru town of Pasir Gudang.

On the continued presence of the two ships at sea, Mr Khaw said: “Unfortunately, they do not agree to withdraw, so we will see how the bilateral discussions go.”

Officials from both sides are set to meet in the second week of January to discuss the maritime boundaries.

Asked on Monday if another meeting will be arranged to settle the ILS dispute, Mr Khaw said that he is “quite sure that it will be on the agenda”.

He expressed his hope that “good sense will prevail” during next month’s discussion.

Singapore intends to “negotiate in good faith” during the meeting, he added, and that the Republic is looking for a “peaceful, calm (and) professional management of this whole dispute”.

If Malaysia were to share these sentiments, “I am quite sure we can work out some win-win solutions”, he said.

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