The incident which involved Malaysian vessel 'Polaris' and Greece-registered bulk carrier 'Piraeus' colliding, caused discussions on the dispute between Malaysia and Singapore concerning their territorial waters. Yet, Malaysian Marine Department director-general Baharin Abdul Hamid, stated that the incident occurred in Malaysian territorial waters and not Singapore.
The conflict centres on the border line between the port of Tuas, Singapore and the port of Johor Bahru, Malaysia. The two sides have had an on-and-off disagreement over the demarcation between these areas since 1979, and last October, the Malaysian government expanded its claim further east to include waters just off Tuas' docks.
Moreover, on December 2018, the Malaysian Marine Department moved to a change to the port limits of Johore Bahru Port, extending its limits to southernmost state. Yet, MPA Singapore commented that they do not recognise the expansion and the port's limits.
As a result to the conflict, in that time both sides were dispatching patrol boats, government-owned vessels and warships into the disputed area. Last weekend, one of these patrols ended in a collision with a civilian vessel.
In return, Singapore extended Tuas' formal port limits to cover the same area, out to the edge of the Singaporean maritime boundary claim.
In addition, Singapore's Minister Of Transport, Khaw Boon Wan, opposed to the Malaysian claim and commented that Singapore will not give ground.
"Out of the blue, Malaysia is claiming these territorial waters that belong to Singapore. Without any prior consultations, Malaysia is seeking to alter unilaterally the long-standing status quo in the area. This is a blatant provocation and a serious violation of our sovereignty and international law"
After the collision, Singapore supported that the accident occurred in Singaporean waters.
"MPA is deeply concerned that the presence of the unauthorised vessels in our port limits can cause confusion for the international shipping community and threaten navigational safety in our waters."
.. stated the Port Authority.
However, Malaysia claimed that the accident occurred within Malaysian waters off Johor Bahru. Malaysian investigators boarded both vessels to conduct an inquiry, and they detained the Piraeus.