Singapore minister says republic remains committed to resolving bilateral issues with Malaysia

File picture showing Foreign Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah (left) with his Singaporean counterpart Dr Vivian Balakrishnan before a bilateral meeting in Singapore January 8, 2019. — Picture courtesy of Ministry of Foreign Affairs
File picture showing Foreign Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah (left) with his Singaporean counterpart Dr Vivian Balakrishnan before a bilateral meeting in Singapore January 8, 2019. — Picture courtesy of Ministry of Foreign Affairs

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SINGAPORE, March 1 — Singapore remains committed to resolving several bilateral issues with Malaysia in an amicable and constructive manner, according to the republic’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Dr Vivian Balakrishnan.

The issues will also be resolved in strict accordance with bilateral agreements and international law, he said in his speech during the Committee of Supply Debate at Parliament here today.

Both countries are in the midst of solving several bilateral issues that include maritime and airspace.

On maritime issues surrounding the Johor Bahru and Singapore port limits, Balakrishnan said officials had been meeting to discuss measures to de-escalate the situation.

“...and both sides are aware of the urgent need to prevent accidents and untoward incidents,” he said.

During their bilateral meeting on Jan 8, Balakrishnan and his Malaysian counterpart Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah agreed to establish a working group headed by the permanent secretary of the Singapore Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the secretary-general of the Malaysian Foreign Ministry.

“This working group of senior officials is due to submit its recommendations to the two Foreign Ministers in early March, which is now,” said Balakrishnan.

The working group is tasked to study and discuss the legal and operational matters in order to de-escalate the situation on the ground and to provide a basis for further discussions and negotiations.

According to Balakrishnan, the Transport Ministers and the senior officials from both sides had also been meeting to discuss the arrangements for Seletar Airport and the airspace over Southern Johor, including the instrumented approaches into Seletar Airport, and Malaysia’s Restricted Area over Pasir Gudang.

“And again, we look forward to finding a solution that is mutually agreeable,” said Balakrishnan who is also the republic’s Acting Transport Minister.

On January 8, Malaysia and Singapore had also agreed for both sides to immediately and simultaneously suspend Malaysia’s permanent restricted area over Pasir Gudang and Singapore’s implementation of the Instrument Landing System (ILS) procedure for Seletar Airport.

The mutual suspension was later extended up to the end of March from the original one month. — Bernama

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