Singapore wants border row with Malaysia to stay between both countries

A Malaysian government vessel is spotted within Johor Baru's new port limits December 6, 2018. — TODAY pic
A Malaysian government vessel is spotted within Johor Baru's new port limits December 6, 2018. — TODAY pic

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KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 13 — Singapore said today it would like to resolve the maritime border dispute with Malaysia through direct negotiations first, before any attempts to involve an international third party.

Its Foreign Affairs Ministry said it has consequently filed a declaration under Article 298(1)(a) of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos) to prevent any party, including itself, to unilaterally commence third party arbitration or adjudication.  

“Singapore believes that maritime boundary delimitation disputes are best resolved through negotiations, in order to reach an amicable settlement acceptable to all of the parties,” the ministry said in a statement.

“However, if this cannot be achieved, Singapore is prepared to settle such a dispute by recourse to an appropriate international third-party dispute settlement procedure, on terms mutually agreed to by the parties.”

It said it has informed Malaysia of the declaration, ahead of the bilateral meeting over the issue on the second week of January next year.

“Singapore hopes that by engaging each other, the two governments will reach a swift and amicable resolution, in accordance with international law,” it said.

This comes as Singaporean vessels continue to enter Johor Baru’s new port limits declared on October 25.

Despite the breaches, Singapore Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan also went ahead to caution Putrajaya yesterday against deploying its vessels to the same location, claiming this may prevent a positive outcome from the bilateral talks due next month

Malaysia has already proposed a mutual cease-and-desist over the deployment of any assets into the disputed area by December 9, which Singapore rejected.

Earlier this week, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said Malaysian vessels will remain in the disputed waters along the Malaysia-Singapore maritime border and will stay there until the negotiation process between the two countries is settled.

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