SINGAPORE - Singapore's Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen on Friday (Dec 7) warned Malaysian errant vessels to stay out of the Republic's territorial waters, saying their intrusions are "serious violations of Singapore's sovereignty".
Commenting on the dispute for the first time, Dr Ng said on Facebook: "Our security forces have acted with restraint despite continuing intrusions and provocations."
"Singaporeans are peace-loving, but I strongly caution violators to leave Singapore territorial waters," he wrote.
Dr Ng's statement comes a day after Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan told Malaysian vessels - which have made 14 incursions into Singapore's waters in the past two weeks - to "back off".
Mr Khaw announced on the same day that Singapore has also expanded its own port limits off Tuas, in response to Malaysia's recent extension of its port boundaries, a move which has led to the intrusions by Malaysian government vessels.
As of Friday afternoon, there are still three Malaysian vessels in Singapore's waters, said a source.
Dr Ng, in weighing in on the issue, said: "For 20 years or more, the Republic of Singapore Navy and Police Coast Guard ships have patrolled our Singapore Territorial Waters at Tuas."
"Out of nowhere, Malaysian Government vessels now claim these waters as theirs and have been continually intruding since November," Dr Ng added.
This article was first published in The Straits Times. Permission required for reproduction.