Talks over dispute between SG and Malaysia airspace slated Jan 8

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Subsequent to the meeting of Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean and Minister for Finance Heng Swee Keat with Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad last Dec 31, the foreign ministers of Singapore and Malaysia will also meet in the Republic on Jan 8, 2019.

While the parties did not elaborate on what will be discussed, Malaysian Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah was quoted as saying the dispute over airspace would be on the agenda.

“My visit to Singapore is a continuation of the meeting yesterday. There are several issues, but the one that must be given immediate attention is Singapore’s plans for the Seletar Airport which will pass through the airspace over Pasir Gudang, Johor,” Mr. Saifuddin said. “We protested and declared the airspace a restricted area, and this will be a problem to Singapore. I am confident the issue will be discussed well to find a win-win solution for both countries,” he added.

Recently, port limits, most especially airspace, have become a two-pronged issue between the two countries. Malaysia opposed to the latest landing procedures at Seletar Airport slated for enforcement January 3. It asserts that the Instrument Landing System (ILS) procedures will negatively impact developments in Johor’s Pasir Gudang Port and wants to regain management of the airspace, where Singapore has been providing air traffic services since 1974.

Singapore has pointed out that ILS – which will guide pilots landing there with ground instruments instead of relying on their visual assessment – will not pose any safety or security risks to operations at Pasir Gudang Port.

It has also been claimed said that management of the skies has nothing to do with sovereignty but was delegated to Singapore’s management under an agreement with regional states, including Malaysia, in 1973, and which was approved by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

Kuala Lumpur also unilaterally extended the Johor Baru port limits on Oct 25, such that they encroach on Singapore’s territorial waters off Tuas. In response to the expanded Johor Baru port boundaries, Singapore extended its own port limits on Dec 6, a move that drew protests from Malaysia.