Singapore repeats call for Malaysia to withdraw vessels following Pireas-Polaris collision

SINGAPORE – Singapore has reiterated its call for Malaysia to withdraw its vessels from Singapore’s territorial waters off Tuas, following a collision between Greek carrier Pireas and Malaysia government vessel Polaris on Saturday (Feb 9).

“The persistent presence of its vessels clearly poses a threat to safety of navigation in the area,” said the Foreign Affairs Ministry in a statement on Sunday.

“As we have said previously, Malaysia will be responsible for any untoward situations on the ground that arise from continued deployment of its vessels into this area.”

The accident happened at about 2.30pm on Saturday. Pireas was on its way to its next port of call at Tanjung Pelapas in Johor when it collided with Polaris, which was anchored.

The crew members of both vessels were not injured.

In a statement late on Saturday night, Malaysia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the Greek vessel and its crew have been detained.

It said that during communication with Polaris, Pireas had responded that it would steer clear of Polaris.

“Despite the clear communication and definitive instructions given, the collision happened on first contact until both vessels were cleared of each other at 2.36pm,” the statement added.

Polaris, a Malaysian Marine Department vessel, is one of the vessels that trespassed into Singapore’s waters off Tuas last year.

On Oct 25 last year, Malaysia unilaterally gazetted altered port limits that went beyond its past claims.

In response, Singapore extended its port limits off Tuas to the full extent of its territorial waters.

Speaking in Parliament on Jan 14, Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan said Singapore would do its best to discuss all outstanding bilateral issues with Malaysia in a calm, reasonable and focused manner.

“We will always take appropriate measures to safeguard our interests. And any country dealing with Singapore must not assume that it is cost-free to embark on any adventures or antics against us. There will be consequences,” he said.

The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore is currently investigating the incident.

Source: TheStraitsTimes