The Foreign Ministers of Singapore and Malaysia have taken quick action, following up on their first meeting held on 8th January 2019 in Singapore, by releasing a joint-statement outlining their commitment to resolve the maritime issues surrounding the port limits of both countries by their second meeting at Putrajaya, Malaysia on 14th March 2019.
HE Dato’ Saifuddin Abdullah, and his counterpart, HE Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, discussed a Working Group report on maritime issues surrounding the overlapping Johor Bahru Port Limits off Tanjung Piai and Singapore Port Limits off Tuas. The report was submitted by the Working Group headed by the Secretary General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Malaysia, Dato’ Sri Muhammad Shahrul Ikram Yaakob and the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Singapore, Mr Chee Wee Kiong.
In the Joint Statement, the Foreign Ministers agreed that Malaysia and Singapore shall implement the following five recommendations in the report with effect from 14 March 2019:
– To mutually suspend the implementation of their overlapping port limits and apply their port limits in effect prior to 25 October 2018 and 6 December 2018 respectively
– To not authorise and to suspend all commercial activities in the area
– To not anchor government vessels in the area
– For Malaysia and Singapore vessels to operate in the area in accordance with international law including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). The relevant agencies on both sides will work out practical modalities to avoid untoward incidents in the area
– To establish a committee chaired by the Secretary General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Malaysia, and the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Singapore for boundary delimitation which will ensure implementation of the first four recommendations within one month, and that negotiations for maritime boundary delimitation in the area will commence within one month following such implementation
– These measures taken by both countries shall be without prejudice to Malaysia’s and Singapore’s respective maritime boundary claims in the area. In the event that the committee is unable to reach an amicable solution on delimitation, Malaysia and Singapore may mutually agree to resort to an appropriate international third-party dispute settlement procedure on terms to be mutually agreed by the parties that these measures were vital to de-escalate the situation on the ground, and pave the way for maritime boundary delimitation of the area