SINGAPORE: Singapore will not allow any foreign government vessels to assert authority in Singapore territorial waters, Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan reiterated in Parliament on Tuesday (Feb 26).
"We will not allow any foreign government vessels to assert any authority in our waters," Dr Balakrishnan said in response to Nominated Member of Parliament Walter Theseira’s question on the collision between Malaysian vessel Polaris and Greece-registered bulk vessel MV Pireas on Feb 9.
The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) said then that the Greek vessel was on its way from Singapore to its next port of call at Malaysia’s Tanjung Pelapas when the accident happened.
The minister clarified that the Pireas was not detained by the Malaysian authorities, as Associate Professor Theseira had stated in his parliamentary question, but as the collision was not considered very serious under the International Maritime Organization (IMO) Marine Casualty Investigation Code, the Greek vessel was allowed to proceed to Tanjung Pelapas.
The Polaris belongs to the Malaysian Marine Department and is used to mark territory or safety hazards.
Assoc Prof Theseira then asked if there is any advice for mariners looking to pass through these waters.
"For example ... if they are given instructions from Malaysian government vessels, what should they do? What would our forces do if they observe attempts to give such instructions in the area?" he said.
To this, Dr Balakrishnan reiterated that these are Singapore territorial waters and are now designated Singapore port limits. All vessels passing through these waters should take instructions from the MPA, he said.
“Any foreign government vessels have no locus standi to be issuing any instructions,” the minister said.
“If there are any attempts to assert authority or take any unauthorised actions, our agencies, our vessels and our forces will take appropriate actions.”