SINGAPORE: Singapore Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen has warned Malaysian vessels intruding in Singapore waters to leave, in his first public comments on the maritime spat between Singapore and Malaysia.
“Singaporeans are peace-loving, but I strongly caution violators to leave Singapore territorial waters,” said Dr Ng in a Facebook post on Friday (Dec 7).
He also posted a video titled The SAF Stands Ready, which shows instances of Malaysian vessels intruding into Singapore waters in recent weeks.
READ: Malaysia’s unilateral move to extend port limits ‘does not fit with collaborative spirit’: Masagos
His comments come a day after Singapore announced on Thursday it had extended its port limits off Tuas in view of the recent “provocative developments”, and said it will not hesitate to take firm action against intrusions by Malaysian government vessels in its waters.
There have been 14 intrusions by Malaysian government vessels in Singapore territorial waters in the last two weeks, Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan said at a media briefing on Thursday.
These intrusions came after Malaysia extended its Johor port limits on Oct 25, encroaching into Singapore waters off Tuas.
“For 20 years or more, the Republic of Singapore Navy and Police Coast Guard ships have patrolled our Singapore Territorial Waters at Tuas,” Dr Ng said in his post on Friday.
“Out of nowhere, Malaysian government vessels now claim these waters as theirs and have been continually intruding since November. These are serious violations of Singapore’s sovereignty,” Dr Ng added.
Separately on Friday, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli said that Malaysia’s “sudden unilateral move” to extend its Johor Bahru port limits does not fit with the “collaborative spirit” between the two countries.
“We’ve been clear. We respect international law and all bilateral agreements between Singapore and Malaysia,” said the minister. “If anyone violate these laws and our agreement, threatening our sovereignty, we will defend it firmly.”
Mr Masagos, who spoke in Malay, added that the leaders of Singapore and Malaysia both want positive relations and that there will be much benefit should the two countries work together sincerely and consistently.