Singapore vows restraint in maritime row with Malaysia

by Ridzwan Rahmat


        The Republic of Singapore Navy's first-of-class Littoral Mission Vessel, RSS
        Independence
        (right), keeping an eye on Malaysian Marine Department ship MV
        Pedoman
        , off Tuas.
       (Singapore Ministry of Defence)

The Republic of Singapore Navy's first-of-class Littoral Mission Vessel, RSS Independence (right), keeping an eye on Malaysian Marine Department ship MV Pedoman , off Tuas. (Singapore Ministry of Defence)

Vessels from the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) and the Singapore Police Coast Guard (PCG) have been ordered to exercise restraint when dealing with Malaysian government ships in the newly disputed territorial waters of Tuas, in western Singapore.

In his parliamentary address on 15 January, Singapore’s defence minister Ng Eng Hen assured legislators that the country’s security agencies are fully capable of enforcing its maritime territorial claims and can compel Malaysian government vessels to leave the disputed area.

However, these agencies have been advised to not undertake any actions that may escalate tensions with Putrajaya and jeopardise efforts to reach a peaceful conclusion on the maritime disputes.

The minister was responding to questions from members of parliament, who wanted to know how the RSN and the PCG have responded to what the country sees as intrusions by Malaysian government vessels into Singapore’s territorial waters off Tuas.

“Since 3 December 2018, when intrusions by [Malaysian government vessels] began, our security personnel have repeatedly pressed these vessels to withdraw from [Singapore territorial waters off Tuas]”, said Ng.

“We will continue to do so as their presence does not strengthen Malaysia’s legal claims in any way and indeed, as we have said before, can result in mishaps or regrettable incidents,” he added.

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The Republic of Singapore Navy's first-of-class Littoral Mission Vessel, RSS Inde...

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