SINGAPORE: Escalatory actions like the deployment of Malaysian government vessels into Singapore waters off Tuas West are “unnecessary and provocative”, The Workers’ Party said on Saturday (Dec 8).
In a statement, The Workers’ Party expressed its “grave concern” over Malaysia’s recent intrusions into Singapore waters, which Singapore has said violates its sovereignty and international law.
The opposition party added that Malaysia’s conduct does not set the right tone on Singapore-Malaysia relations for citizens of both nations, and in particular, for the younger generation.
“The Workers’ Party stands by our men and women in all our security and enforcement agencies who have been activated to deal with the incursion of Malaysian vessels into Singapore waters. They have our full support,” the statement added.
READ: Maritime dispute: ‘Risk of escalation cannot be underestimated’, says Chan Chun Sing in call for calm
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.
On Thursday, Singapore also announced it had extended its port limits off Tuas in view of recent “provocative developments” and said it will not hesitate to take firm action against intrusions by Malaysian government vessels in its waters.
The Workers’ Party called Singapore and Malaysia “fraternal neighbours with a wide-ranging bilateral relationship”, saying that both sides cooperate in many areas, including on the military front.
“There is a deep economic relationship between both neighbours with much more to be potentially reaped for both Malaysians and Singaporeans through economic collaboration. The people of both countries are deeply invested in each other through ties of family and friendship,” it said.
The party said that in view of this unique and deep bilateral relationship, any disagreements between both countries can be resolved either through negotiation or through a third-party adjudication process.
Malaysia’s Foreign Affairs Minister Saifuddin Abdullah on Friday proposed that both sides leave the “disputed area” and hold talks, but this was rejected by Singapore which asked Malaysia to cease its “provocative violations of Singapore sovereignty”.
Said Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing on Saturday: “Sending Malaysian government vessels into the area inconsistent with innocent passage, conducting unlawful and unauthorised activities under international law, refusing to leave, then suggesting that Singapore vessels leave the area for talks to happen. That’s not right. Even the layman can see that this cannot be right.”
He also warned that the situation on the ground was tense and the risk of escalation could not be underestimated.
As of Friday afternoon, there were three Malaysian government vessels in Singapore waters.