See More on Facebook

Diplomacy

Singapore-Malaysia relations still ‘good’, says Malaysian Foreign Minister

Ties between Malaysia and Singapore are still “good” despite ongoing air and maritime disputes between the two countries.


Written by

Updated: January 17, 2019

“Our relations with Singapore remain good. There are some issues but we are talking to each other, and that is very important,” said Malaysian Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah on Wednesday (Jan 16),

“Most importantly, the discussions are going on. I am confident the discussions are moving in the right direction.”

He said five senior government officials will meet with their Singaporean counterparts to discuss ongoing issues.

Besides Mr Saifuddin, the others are Transport Minister Anthony Loke, Economic Affairs Minister Azmin Ali, Attorney-General Tommy Thomas and Foreign Ministry secretary-general Muhammad Shahrul Ikram Yaakob.

Both Singapore and Malaysia are currently locked in two separate disputes – over territorial waters off Tuas and airspace management over southern Johor.

The disagreements were the latest in a string of bilateral hiccups since Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad returned as Malaysia’s Prime Minister following an unprecedented change of government in May 2018.

The dispute over maritime boundaries started after Kuala Lumpur, on Oct 25 last year, unilaterally extended the Johor Baru port limits into Singapore’s territorial waters off Tuas.

Daily intrusions into these waters by Malaysian government vessels since November have continued despite the Malaysian Foreign Affairs Ministry declaring that it would take “all effective measures” to de-escalate the situation on the ground.

Malaysia has also objected to the implementation of new landing procedures for Seletar Airport.

Last week, Singapore and Malaysia took steps to defuse their air and maritime tensions, with Mr Saifuddin and his Singaporean counterpart Vivian Balakrishnan reiterating their commitment “to preserving the vital relationship between both countries and to improving bilateral ties, on the basis of equality and mutual respect”.

A day later, however, Johor Menteri Besar Osman Sapian boarded a vessel in the disputed waters off Tuas, an act that resulted in the postponement of the Joint Ministerial Committee for Iskandar Malaysia (JMCIM) meeting, which was originally scheduled to take place on Monday.

Singapore, which has formally protested against the intrusion, said his presence on a Malaysian vessel in Singapore’s territory had rendered holding the JMCIM “untenable”. Malaysia has maintained that he was in Malaysian waters.

Mr Saifuddin said on Wednesday that the channels of communication between the two countries remain open.

This was evident when Datuk Seri Azmin met with Dr Balakrishnan earlier this week despite the postponement of the JMCIM.

“We have always safeguarded our sovereignty and our independence. We just have to continue talking to our Singapore counterparts,” Mr Saifuddin said.



Enjoyed this story? Share it.


About the Author: The Straits Times is Singapore's top-selling newspaper.

Eastern Briefings

All you need to know about Asia


Our Eastern Briefings Newsletter presents curated stories from 22 Asian newspapers from South, Southeast and Northeast Asia.

Sign up and stay updated with the latest news.



By providing us with your email address, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

View Today's Newsletter Here

Diplomacy

Attempts to isolate

Would a re-elected Modi rethink his Pakistan policies. Imran Khan and the military leadership have been expressing a desire for improved relations with India. But India is unlikely to respond anytime soon. And the reasons go beyond its upcoming elections. I recall here a private briefing some of us South Asia hands in Washington got from a close adviser of Narendra Modi soon after he took office as prime minister. Unaware of my identity, he spoke of Pakistan with contempt. “We are going to treat Pakistan as if it were on the other side of a high wall,” he said. Four years on, the adviser is there as is India’s Pakistan policy. How has the policy endured for so long? The search for the answer opens up a vast landscape of policy, politics and ideology in India. Beginning in 1991, India has been on a steady march to foster external relations conducive


By Dawn
February 15, 2019

Diplomacy

Investor Jim Rogers to visit North Korea next month

The famed investor will visit Pyongyang at Kim Jong-un’s invitation. Jim Rogers, a renowned investor and chairman of Rogers Holdings, plans to visit North Korea next month at the invitation of Chairman Kim Jong-un, according to sources Tuesday. The Singapore-based investor, who once said he would “put all of my money” in North Korea if he could, received the US government’s approval for the trip with his wife. The billionaire has touted the impoverished country with a gross domestic product per capita of $1,800 as an attractive investment destination for five years, even before the thawing of inter-Korean relations last year.


By The Korea Herald
February 13, 2019

Diplomacy

China refutes Turkey’s Uighur claims

Turkey called for re-education camps to be closed and accused China of killing a popular musician. China on Monday strongly rejected Turkey’s “absurd lie” about the death of a Uygur folk musician, saying the Turkey’s claim extremely wrong and irresponsible. “China has made solemn representations to Turkey and is firmly opposed to its groundless accusations,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a regular news conference in Beijing. In a statement released on Saturday, the Turkish Foreign Ministry criticized the human rights situation in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region and claimed that Abdurehim Heyit, who was sentenced to eight years in prison, had died. But Heyit appeared in a video released by China Radio International on Sunday. He said, “I’m in the process of being investigated for allegedly violating national laws” and &


By China Daily
February 13, 2019

Diplomacy

China dismisses EU spying charge

Chinese embassy dismisses groundless report about alleged Chinese espionage in Brussels. The Chinese Embassy in Belgium on Sunday dismissed recent local media report about alleged Chinese espionage in Brussels as an outright fabrication. Responding to the news report by some local media alleging that “there are about 250 Chinese spies active in Brussels,” a spokesperson of the Chinese Embassy in Belgium said the report “is an outright fabrication without any evidence.” “China and Belgium now enjoy a steadily growing relationship and fruitful cooperation across all fields. China is committed to developing sound relations and cooperation with Belgium and all other countries on the basis of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefits,” the spokesperson said in a statement. “Some specific irresponsible remarks aimed to maliciously discredit China, mislead an


By China Daily
February 12, 2019

Diplomacy

China, US to talk trade in Beijing next week

Trade talks designed to break deadlock and end tariffs which have slowed down both economies. US President Donald Trump has announced that US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin will head to Beijing for trade talks on Feb 14-15, the White House said Friday morning. The principal-level meetings, following discussions that took place on Jan 30-31 in Washington, will be preceded by deputy-level negotiations that will begin on Feb 11, led by Deputy USTR Jeffrey Gerrish, according to a statement from the White House Press Secretary Office. Carlos Gutierrez, former US Secretary of Commerce, said that trade disputes are bad for both sides. “So I would hope that we have reached the limit in terms of escalation, and that we can continue the dialogue to reach an agreement,” he said in an interview on Wednesday. Last week, top Chinese and US trade


By China Daily
February 11, 2019

Diplomacy

South Korea, US ink provisional defense cost-sharing pact

Getting allies to pay ‘their fair share’ has been a major part of President Trump’s rhetoric. South Korea and the United States signed a provisional agreement Sunday on the sharing of costs to maintain US troops here, with South Korea raising its share by 8.2 percent. Seoul’s negotiator, Chang Won-sam, and his US counterpart, Timothy Betts, met in Seoul to ink the contract. Under the new deal, South Korea will pay about 1.03 trillion won ($890 million) to cover the costs of stationing the 28,500 members of US Armed Forces Korea here throughout 2019. The figure reflects the rate of increase of South Korea’s annual defense budget, according to the Foreign Ministry in Seoul. Last year, South Korea paid about 960 billion won to its ally for the same purpose.


By The Korea Herald
February 11, 2019