01 Apr 2019
Mr Ang Wei Neng: To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs (a) what are the benefits and implications of the recent agreement with Malaysia to suspend overlapping claims in Singapore's territorial waters off Tuas; and (b) when was the last occasion that foreign vessels had anchored in Singapore's territorial waters off Tuas.
1 Mr Speaker, on the 14th of March 2019, Malaysia and Singapore agreed to revert the port limits to the status quo prior to the 25th of October 2018 and the 6th of December 2018 respectively. The Malaysian Government vessels which have been illegally anchored in our waters since early December 2018 would have to move out. In keeping with past practice, no commercial activities or anchoring of ships would be allowed in this area. Our ships will continue to patrol and continue to take appropriate enforcement actions within our territorial waters. If all these recommendations are implemented by the 14th of April 2019, then negotiations for maritime boundary delimitation in the area will start within one month thereafter. I need to stress that these measures shall be taken without prejudice to the respective maritime boundary claims of both sides.
2 We hope that the recommendations will be implemented as soon as possible within the agreed timeframe. This will allow the ground situation to be de-escalated, and then both sides can embark on maritime boundary delimitation negotiations.
3 This is a process that will take time, but both sides are committed to negotiate in good faith, and in the event that we are unable to arrive at an amicable solution on delimitation, we may mutually agree to resort to an appropriate international third-party dispute settlement procedure on terms to be mutually agreed by the parties.
4 Overall, this agreement is a positive and concrete step forward for both countries, and is reflective of Singapore’s commitment to resolve our issues with Malaysia in a calm and rational and amicable manner, in accordance with international law, and to nurture this very important bilateral relationship whilst safeguarding our national interests.
Mr Ang Wei Neng: So there’s no more foreign ships right now in our territorial waters off Tuas at this point in time?
1 There are two Malaysian Government vessels which I believe are still anchored there at this point in time, so the terms of agreement have not been implemented yet.
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MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS
1 APRIL 2019