Malaysia-Singapore ties frayed after boat collision

2019-02-11 02:48:40 GMT2019-02-11 10:48:40(Beijing Time) Sina English

A Malaysian government vessel has collided with a ship in waters disputed by Singapore and Malaysia, sparking a fresh flare-up of maritime tensions between the neighbors.

Malaysian authorities impounded the Greek-flagged bulk carrier, the Pireas, and detained its crew after the collision on Saturday with the Malaysian vessel Polaris.

The neighbors 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 returned to the premiership last year.

Maritime tensions began rising late last year when Singapore accused Malaysia of extending its claims in the strait that separates the neighbors into what had long been accepted as the city-state’s territorial waters.

Both sides claimed that Saturday’s collision off Tuas, in western Singapore, had happened in their own waters. The accident did not cause any injuries or lead to an oil spill.

“The collision between MV Pireas and Malaysian government vessel Polaris took place in Singapore territorial waters,” a Singapore foreign ministry statement said yesterday.

“Singapore reiterates its call for Malaysia to withdraw its vessels from the area, as the persistent presence of its vessels clearly poses a threat to safety of navigation in the area.”

In a statement, Malaysia’s foreign ministry said: “Malaysia is committed to taking appropriate measures to safeguard its territorial integrity, interests and safe navigation of vessels.”

(Agencies)

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