Question No. 2667:

Assoc Prof Walter Theseira: To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs (a) whether the Malaysian Government's detention of Greek vessel Pireas and crew, which collided with the Malaysian vessel Polaris in Singapore territorial waters, represents an exercise of foreign sovereignty in Singapore territorial waters; and (b) what measures can be taken to ensure that vessels, crew and passengers, particularly Singapore-flagged, will not be subject to foreign authority whilst in Singapore territorial waters or for acts committed in Singapore territorial waters.

Minister: On the 9th of February this year, a Greece-registered bulk carrier named Pireas collided with the Malaysian Government Vessel named Polaris in Singapore Territorial Waters off Tuas. A Singapore Police Coast Guard vessel was on site, observed and recorded the collision. The Maritime Port Authority was therefore notified by both the Maritime Security Task Force and by the Pireas herself. The MPA ascertained that this incident was not classified as a Very Serious Marine Casualty under the IMO Marine Casualty Investigation Code. The ship Pireas was therefore allowed to proceed with its journey to its next port of call, which in this case happened to be Tanjung Pelepas in Malaysia. Pireas was not detained by the Malaysian authorities in Singapore Territorial Waters. We will not allow any foreign government vessels to assert any authority in our waters.

Assoc Prof Walter Theseira: Mr Speaker, thank you. I thank the Minister for Foreign Affairs for that very strong statement that Singapore will not stand for foreign government exercising sovereignty in our waters. I would like to ask if the Minister has any advice for mariners regarding travel or transit through this area. For example, should they take alternate routes and if they are given instructions from Malaysian government vessels, what should they do? And perhaps what would our forces do if they were to observe attempts to give such instructions in the area? Thank you.

Minister: Mr Speaker, these are Singapore Territorial Waters. In fact, these have now been designated Singapore Port Limits. All vessels who are passing or transiting through these waters should therefore take instructions from the MPA. Any foreign government vessels have no locus standi to be issuing any instructions. If there are any attempts to assert authority or take any unauthorised actions, our agencies, our vessels and our forces will take appropriate measures.

Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Government of Singapore