Malaysia’s Double Standards

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The Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) has accused Indonesian authorities of intruding into Malaysian waters and detaining local fishing vessels in a statement issued on 13 February. MMEA deputy director-general (operations) Vice-Admiral Datuk Mohd Zubil Mat Som said that four Malaysian fishing vessels have been detained since the start of February. He added that “These incidents are an intrusion by a foreign force into Malaysian waters and undermines our nation’s maritime sovereignty. We have sent a diplomatic objection notice to the Foreign Ministry to protest the incidents within our waters.”

Since November last year, Malaysian vessels have been parked illegally in Singapore waters after Malaysia unilaterally extended its port limits into Singapore territorial waters. Despite repeated calls by the Singapore Government to leave our waters, the Malaysian vessels have not moved. The Government has also made attempts at resolving the conflict amicably but negotiations seem to have entered a stalemate. In January, the Chief Minister of Johor visited one of the vessels parked in our waters, presumably to show defiance to Singapore’s position on the issue. Ironically, just a day before that, Malaysia and Singapore had agreed to establish a working group to study and discuss legal and operational matters relating to the maritime dispute.

In the latest turn of events, a Malaysian vessel Polaris parked in our waters collided with a Greek vessel while the latter was passing through Singapore. After the incident, Malaysia’s Marine Department disputed Singapore’s statement that the incident took place in our waters. They continue to insist that the area in which Polaris is parked belongs to Malaysia.

Given how the dispute with Singapore has played out so far, it is ironic that Malaysia should now be crying foul at what they claim to be an encroachment of their waters by Indonesian vessels. Perhaps they could use this incident to “empathise” with how Singapore might feel when they claim our waters to be theirs and park their vessels there for months. The most important lesson here is probably this – do not do unto others what you do not want done unto you.

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