Singapore's Tuas powers on despite dispute

Singapore Singapore’s acting minister for transport has said a territorial dispute between Malaysia and itself will not affect development of the Tuas Terminal. Credit: Google Maps

The territorial dispute between Malaysia and Singapore will not affect the viability of the Tuas Terminal, Singapore’s acting minister for transport Vivian Balakrishnan has said.

Speaking at the Ministry of Transport's Committee of Supply Debate 2019, Mr Balakrishnan was referring to Malaysia’s decision to unilaterally extend the Johor Bahru port limits into Singapore’s territorial waters off Tuas in October 2018.

Answering a question about whether the dispute would affect Tuas Terminal, he said “the answer is ‘NO’.”

He explained: “Development works are proceeding as planned, and there will be no impact to access for ships calling at the terminal in the future.

Singapore has been in talks with Malaysia to find “constructive solutions” to both maritime and airspace issues” and have made “reasonable progress” confirmed Mr Balakrishnan. However, he stressed that “security agencies will continue to be vigilant, and safeguard the sovereignty and security of our territorial waters.”

Discussions between the two countries are amongst a backdrop of mounting tension as Mr Balakrishnan explains the “purported extension” goes beyond Malaysia’s territorial sea claims according to its own 1979 map, “which Singapore has consistently rejected”.

He stated: “The inescapable conclusion is that the new Johor Bahru Port Limits transgress into what are indisputably Singapore Territorial Waters.”

In December, the Government of Singapore lodged a “strong protest with the Malaysian Government over its plan extend the port, arguing the plan encroaches into Singapore Territorial Waters (STW) off Tuas on the Singapore Strait.

Malaysia's transport minister, Anthony Loke Siew Fook, called Singapore's claims inaccurate, saying the altered port limits had not encroached any part of the city state.

The Tuas Terminal will be developed in four phases over a span of 30 years, with Phase 1 scheduled for completion in the early 2020s.

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