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Transcript of the Joint Press Conference by His Excellency Dr Vivian Balakrishnan Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Singapore and His Excellency Dato' Saifuddin Abdullah Minister of Foreign Affairs of Malaysia

08 January 2019

Minister Vivian: Thank you and welcome to this session. Malaysia and Singapore will always be close and permanent neighbours. That is a geographical fact. And it is essential that we always have a constructive, and cooperative bilateral relationship. Both of us, my brother Saifuddin from Malaysia and I, we had a very positive, very constructive, and very necessary meeting today. And I am glad to be able to report that we have arrived at some agreements and we have also just as importantly reaffirmed our commitment to strengthening the vital relationship between Malaysia and Singapore. And also, to improve bilateral ties on the basis of equality and mutual respect. We agreed in particular on the need for keeping the situation calm on the ground in order to allow discussions to proceed in a conducive atmosphere. The first agreement we arrived at was to agree to the simultaneous and immediate suspension of Malaysia’s permanent Restricted Area (RA) over Pasir Gudang and Singapore’s implementation of the Instrument Landing System (ILS) procedures for Seletar Airport. This simultaneous and immediate suspension will be for a period of one month, in the first instance, and we also agreed that our colleagues, the Transport Ministers from both sides will meet soon to conduct discussions on these issues, in order to ensure the safety and efficiency of civil aviation in our part of the world. I am now going to ask Minister Saifuddin to continue, not only have we got a single joint statement, we even have single shared talking points. So he is going to continue with the rest of the talking points. 

Minister Saifuddin: Assalamualaikum and Salam Sejahtera. I must start by thanking my brother Dr Vivian for hosting me. We had a very good meeting this morning. Our officials too, they had their meetings and it was very cordial, very friendly. What Dr Vivian didn’t tell you is that we also had a very good lunch, minus durian. 

Minister Vivian: Next meeting.

Minister Saifuddin: Next meeting will be on durian, okay. That was the first thing that we agreed. But I also like to underline the same sentiment, as was alluded to by Dr Vivian - that Singapore and Malaysia are neighbours, we are the closest neighbours. We have long history of good relations and there is only one way to go forward, that is to become stronger in our ties and improve in our relations. The second issue that we agreed upon was on maritime issues. On maritime issues surrounding the Johor Bahru port limits and Singapore port limits. We agreed to establish a working group of senior officials, led by, in the case of Singapore, by the Permanent Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Mr Chee Wee Kiong. And in our case, the Secretary-General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Dato’ Sri Muhammad Shahrul Ikram Yaakob. This working group is to discuss the legal and operational issues to de-escalate the situation on the ground, and provide a basis for further negotiations. We have instructed the Permanent Secretary and the Secretary-General to report back to both of us within two months. So as Dr Vivian has said earlier, we are all very pleased with our discussions today. The measures that we have agreed upon are positive, and they are constructive steps towards calming the situation on the ground. And we believe this will provide a conducive environment for both countries to find mutually agreeable solutions to our bilateral issues. So, very good outing for both of us.

Minister Vivian: Yes, indeed.  We look forward to more. 

Minister Saifuddin: Thank you.

Minister Vivian: Thank you.



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