Border crisis between Singapore and Malaysia hinders joint meetings

Samer Allawi - Kuala Lumpur

The Singaporean Foreign Ministry has postponed the annual meeting of the Singapore-Singapore Joint Ministerial Committee scheduled for Monday, a Singaporean foreign ministry spokesman said. The cancellation of the meeting comes in protest against what he described as the January 9, .

Malaysian Minister of Economy Azmin Ali said the postponement of the joint ministerial meeting was meant to give the parties sufficient time to study the topics to be discussed in connection with the issues raised at the meeting of the foreign ministers of the two countries on Wednesday.

The cancellation of the ministerial meeting - which discusses joint cooperation in the massive Iskandar Malaysia project in the border state of Johor with Singapore - indicates that the border dispute between the two countries remains in place despite the parties' agreement last week to stop the border escalation.

The foreign ministers of the two countries met in Singapore last Tuesday, and a joint statement after the meeting said they had agreed to reduce tension and withdraw warships from the disputed area and freeze the actions taken by each country against the other, such as Malaysia's declaration of prohibited zones in exchange for Malaysia's stop-landing system Celitan, which Malaysia says is violating its airspace.

The border dispute between the two countries has escalated due to land expansion projects on the Strait of Johor, which separates the two countries, which began in 2002 with Malaysia's opposition to Singapore's burial of the waters of the Strait. In 2001, an international arbitration committee reduced Singapore's activities in the disputed water reclamation. Modification of the landfill areas according to the agreement of a joint border committee.

The dispute emerged again after Malaysia announced in October its intention to expand its ports on the strait. Singapore protested and said the expansion was taking its territory further and joined it with another protest on December 6 over what it said was a breakthrough for Malaysian warships for Singaporean waters .

On May 10, Malaysia announced that it was holding its warships in the disputed waters in response to the presence of Singapore warships. Singapore agreed to a proposal for dialogue and rejected the international arbitration request unilaterally in accordance with the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.