KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Marine Department (MMD) has refuted a news portal’s report that its vessel, the MV Pedoman, is currently in Singaporean waters.
The MMD Head of Corporate Communications Unit Yusnan Abdul Rani said the buoy-laying vessel with 22 crew members were within the Johor Baru port limits.
The MV Pedoman replaced the MV Polaris, which left the waters on Jan 5.
“The MV Pedoman is currently where the Polaris was, which is within the Johor Baru port limits.
“The MV Pedoman and Polaris have always remained within Malaysian waters throughout their operations,“ he told Bernama in an e-mail.
On Wednesday, a news portal reported that the MV Polaris had left the disputed waters off Johor and claimed that the Pedoman was now in the waters of the Republic of Singapore.
“The MV Pedoman replaced the Polaris because the latter needed to restock and refuel,“ Yusnan explained, adding that the Polaris was now at the Marine Department’s jetty in Tanjung Pelepas, Johor.
He said that the reason the vessel was deployed was to carry out MMD’s tasks of ensuring the safe voyage of vessels within the Johor Baru port limits, in addition to monitoring the traffic and vessel routes in the area.
The vessel also monitored the security of vessels berthed and operating within the new port limits.
On Dec 6, 2018, Singapore accused Malaysian vessels of repeatedly trespassing into its territorial waters.
Malaysia, however, has refuted the claims. The Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad insisted last month that Malaysian vessels remain in the disputed waters along the Malaysia-Singapore maritime border until the negotiation process between the two countries was settled.
On Tuesday, Malaysia and Singapore agreed to set up a working group to tackle the maritime dispute involving the extension of the Johor Baru port limits.
The working group will be headed by the Permanent Secretary of the Singapore Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Chee Wee Kiong, and the Secretary-General of the Malaysian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Datuk Seri Muhammad Shahrul Ikram Yaakob.
The working group will study and discuss the legal and operational matters in order to de-escalate the situation on the ground, and provide a basis for further discussions and negotiations. The working group is to report to the Foreign Ministers within two months. Translated by Sakina Mohamed. — Bernama