Singapore and Malaysia Strike Port Truce


Singapore and Malaysia have struck a truce in their territorial port dispute following a summit between their respective foreign ministers on March 14, 2019.

The deal will see both sides cease the implementation of its overlapping port limits and commercial activities in the disputed territory between the ports of Tuas, Singapore, and Johor Bahru, Malaysia.

It will also see the creation of a joint committee to oversee boundary delimitation and ensure all future operations comply with international law.  

In a joint statement, Malaysia and Singapore said: “These measures taken by both countries shall be without prejudice to Malaysia’s and Singapore’s respective maritime boundary claims in the area.

In a recent Q&A, PTI explored the future of Malaysia's maritime industry 

“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.

“Both Foreign Ministers agreed that these measures were vital to de-escalate the situation on the ground, and pave the way for maritime boundary delimitation of the area.

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“These measures also demonstrate the commitment of both countries to work together to preserve a strong and positive bilateral relationship on the basis of equality and mutual respect, and to resolve bilateral issues amicably in accordance with international law.

The dispute arguably dates back to the 1970s when Malaysia published a map of its claimed territorial waters, including a portion of Singapore’s port limit.

Following an agreement in 1995, the dispute reignited in October 2018 when in an official government document Malaysia amended the limits of Johor Bahru port eastward.

This provoked a protest from Singapore, which called for the document to respect its sovereignty. Furthermore, it instructed vessel owners to disregard Malaysia’s amendments.

PTI will continue to report on this story as it develops.

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