Wednesday, 12 December 2018

Malaysia opens old and new wounds with Singapore

Air and sea disputes have stoked new tensions between the causeway neighbors, revisiting an earlier era of testy bilateral relations

Air and sea disputes have stoked new tensions between Malaysia and Singapore, driving ties between the neighbors to their lowest point since Malaysian premier Mahathir Mohamad notched a shock election victory in May this year.

Earlier this month, Singapore lodged a “strong protest” over Malaysia’s plans to extend the limits of a port in its southernmost state, Johor, claiming its territorial waters would be encroached upon. The wealthy city-state also accused Malaysian vessels of repeated intrusions, claims that Malaysia’s Transport Minister Anthony Loke Siew Fook has contested.

Loke has maintained that the altered port’s limits are in Malaysia’s territorial sea and do not encroach on any part of Singapore. The maritime boundary tiff comes as the two countries wrangle over another dispute involving control of a flight path that passes over Malaysian airspace to a small secondary airport in Singapore.

Malaysia informed its southern neighbor that it intends to take back control of the airspace, which Singapore has managed since 1974. Malaysia made the announcement after the city-state issued a new instrument landing system at its Seletar Airport without Malaysia’s consent, which Loke said would lead to height limits on building developments and affect shipping operations in Johor.

Read the full story at Asia Times.

Nile Bowie is a writer and journalist with the Asia Times covering current affairs in Singapore and Malaysia. He can be reached at