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Web Alert: Straits affected by territorial dispute between Singapore and Malaysia

11 December 2018

A recent territorial dispute has occurred between Singapore and Malaysia involving the Straits of Johor.

The Malaysian Attorney General’s Chambers and Marine Department recently altered the port limits for Johor Bahru Port. In response, the Maritime Port Authority (MPA) of Singapore has stated that the purported extension of the Johor Bahru port limits encroaches on Singapore’s territorial waters and the approaches to the Port of Singapore off Tuas (Western Approaches Singapore). Given this, the MPA does not recognise the purported extension of the Johor Bahru port limits. The MPA have stated that masters and owners should disregard the relevant Malaysian gazettes and notices on this alteration. Instead, the MPA requires ships operating west of Singapore’s current port limits around Tuas to continue to comply with Singapore regulations.
Accordingly, it is prudent for masters, owners and operators to be aware of the current positions adopted by both Singapore and Malaysia, especially the overlapping declarations of territorial waters in the same area referred to as Western Approaches Singapore, and/or Outside Port Limits Singapore, Johor Bahru and Tanjong Pelepas (including the Oil Terminal at Tanjong Bin). There are now no international waters in the Straits of Johor given this recent development.
Please see the relevant MPA Port Marine Circular, No. 8 of 2018 and a chart detailing the area that the Malaysian Authorities claim is now part of the port limits for Johore Bahru Port on the right.  

If members have any queries on the above, please contact the club for more information.