S’pore warns Malaysia as maritime tensions flare

15 January, 2019 12:00 AM printer

SINGAPORE: Singapore warned Malaysia Monday it was ready to defend its interests after a flare-up of maritime tensions, the latest sign of fraying ties since a change of government in Kuala Lumpur, reports AFP.

The neighbours have had testy relations since Malaysia evicted the island from the Malaysian Federation in 1965, ending a brief and stormy union of the former British colonies.

Ties have gone up and down over the years but have been shaky since Malaysia’s Mahathir Mohamad—who has long had a prickly relationship with Singapore—returned to the premiership with a shock election victory last year.

Tensions rose in recent weeks after purported intrusions by Malaysian vessels into Singapore waters, and the city-state proposed new landing procedures at an airport that Kuala Lumpur claimed would lead to violations of its airspace.

In the latest incident, the chief minister of Johor—the state closest to Singapore—visited a Malaysian ship anchored inside what the city-state claims are its waters. Singapore called off a scheduled meeting of officials from both countries in protest.

In a speech to parliament, Singapore Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan warned: “We will always take appropriate measures to safeguard our interests, and any country dealing with Singapore must not assume that it is cost-free to embark on any adventures or antics against us.