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RESPONSE TO MB JOHOR’S STATEMENT
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs refers to the statement made by Datuk Osman Sapian, the Chief Minister of Johor regarding his visit last week to the Johor Bahru port in Malaysian territorial waters, explaining that an unofficial blessing was obtained from Dato’ Saifuddin Abdullah, the Foreign Minister and his deputy before the planned visit to the area on 9 January 2019.
The Ministry wishes to set the record straight and state that upon learning of the planned visit from a Malaysian enforcement agency on the morning of 9 January itself, Ministry officials, under the advice of the Foreign Minister, immediately and repeatedly contacted the Chief Minister’s office and conveyed a message not to proceed with the visit.
The Ministry was concerned that such a visit would be counter-productive after the positive and constructive outcome of the bilateral meetings between the Foreign Minister and the Foreign Minister of Singapore just the day before. On 8 January, both Ministers agreed to establish a working group that will study and discuss the legal and operational matters in order to de-escalate the situation on the ground, and to provide a basis for further discussions and negotiations.
When contacted, the Chief Minister at the time was already onboard a vessel and heading towards the Johor Bahru port. As a result, the Ministry received a Diplomatic Note from Singapore dated 11 January 2019 protesting his actions, and consequently postponing the 14th meeting of the Joint Ministerial Committee for Iskandar Malaysia (JMCIM), originally scheduled for Monday, 14 January 2019.
Regardless of these recent developments, the Ministry wishes to concentrate its efforts on the working group and looks forward to hosting the first meeting at the end of this month, a testament of its commitment to strengthen bilateral relations with Singapore based on equality and mutual respect.
18 January 2019