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Maritime dispute: 5 Malaysian vessels in Singapore's waters a day after bilateral meeting

SINGAPORE — Five Malaysian vessels were in Singapore's territorial waters off Tuas as at 6pm on Wednesday (Jan 9), just a day after both countries agreed to set up a working group to look into their maritime disputes.

Maritime dispute: 5 Malaysian vessels in Singapore's waters a day after bilateral meeting

Johor's chief minister Osman Sapian and his entourage on board Malaysia Marine Department (MMD) vessel Tanjung Puteri in transit to MMD vessel Pedoman.

SINGAPORE — Five Malaysian vessels were in Singapore's territorial waters off Tuas as at 6pm on Wednesday (Jan 9), just a day after both countries agreed to set up a working group to look into their maritime disputes.

Two vessels remained in Singapore’s territorial waters as at 6pm on Thursday, the Maritime Port Authority (MPA) said in response to media queries.

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Johor's chief minister Osman Sapian on Wednesday visited a Malaysian government vessel named MV Pedoman that was plying the Malaysia-Singapore maritime border.

Photos: Singapore Police Force

Mr Osman then posted on Facebook photos of himself boarding the vessel and speaking to officers onboard. In his post written in Malay, he thanked the “services and sacrifices” of the officers who were “committed to secure and defend our waters”.

The foreign ministers of Singapore and Malaysia met earlier on Tuesday to address their airspace and border disputes. Following the meeting, Malaysia suspended the permanent Restricted Area established over Pasir Gudang in Johor Baru, while Singapore shelved the implementation of the Instrument Landing Systems (ILS) at Seletar Airport for one month.

Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan and his Malaysian counterpart Saifuddin Abdullah agreed that the transport ministers from both countries should meet soon for discussions on the Restricted Area and the ILS procedures to “ensure the safety and efficiency of civil aviation”.

On the maritime dispute over their port limits, the two countries agreed to set up a working group headed by Singapore’s Permanent Secretary (Foreign Affairs) Chee Wee Kiong and Malaysia’s foreign ministry secretary-general Muhammad Shahrul Ikram Yaakob.

The group will report to the countries’ foreign ministers within two months. It will also “study and discuss the legal and operational matters in order to de-escalate the situation on the ground, and provide the basis for further discussions and negotiations”, a joint statement said.

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