In a Facebook post on January 8, Tuesday, Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat expressed his satisfaction at the progress made by Singapore and Malaysia. A meeting between the Foreign Ministers of both countries, Dr. Vivian Balakrishnan (Singapore) and Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah (Malaysia) was held yesterday to begin discussing solutions to recent tensions due to airspace and maritime disputes.
Both sides made concessions in the issue. Malaysia agreed to suspend its permanent Restricted Area over Pasir Gudang, while Singapore is, in turn, suspending the implementation of the Instrument Landing System procedures for Seletar Airport, for one month’s duration.
Moving forward, both countries’ Transport Ministers will also be meeting shortly to continue finding solutions for the disputes, and concerning the maritime dispute over the extension of Port Limits on Malaysia’s part, a working group of senior officials from both parties will be formed to discuss the matter.
Heng also took note that Singapore and Malaysia have agreed that there is a need for both sides to stay calm so that progress may be ensured.
The Finance Minister ended his post with a reminder of the “deep historical, economic, cultural, and people-to-people ties” between the two nations, which is why “win-win solutions” beneficial to both should be sought.
Here is Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat’s post in full:
“Last week, DPM Teo Chee Hean and I met Malaysian PM Dr. Mahathir Mohamad in Putrajaya to discuss the recent disputes between Singapore and Malaysia.
Glad that, today, Minister Vivian Balakrishnan and his counterpart Malaysian Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah reached a common understanding on initial steps to resolve airspace and maritime issues. Both sides will simultaneously suspend Malaysia’s permanent Restricted Area over Pasir Gudang, and Singapore’s implementation of the Instrument Landing System procedures for Seletar Airport, for a period of one month in the first instance. In order to ensure the safety and efficiency of civil aviation in our part of the world, the Transport Ministers from both sides will also meet soon to conduct discussions on these issues. On the issue of the Johor Bahru Port Limits, both sides have agreed to establish a working group of senior officials to discuss issues to de-escalate the situation on the ground and to provide a basis for further negotiations. In addition, both countries agreed on the need to keep the situation calm in order to allow discussions to proceed in a conducive atmosphere.
As neighbours, Singapore and Malaysia have deep historical, economic, cultural, and people-to-people ties. It is important that we have a constructive and peaceful relationship and find win-win solutions that benefit the peoples of both countries.”
Heng also posted a link to the joint press statement from yesterday’s meeting between the Foreign Ministers, which can be found on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website.
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