Singapore: Correspondence release in Seletar flight path dispute was to address media queries

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KUALA LUMPUR: In response to Malaysia's charge that it selectively published documents relating to its disputed Instrument Landing System procedures for Seletar Airport, Singapore's Ministry of Transport says the correspondence it released was to address media queries whether The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) had consulted its Malaysian counterparts in December last year.

"The queries arose from Malaysia's inaccurate claim earlier in the day that this matter had only come to their attention two months ago (October 2018)," said Singapore's Ministry of Transport in a statement tonight.

It was responding to Malaysia's Ministry of Transport's accusation in a statement issued earlier today that Singapore wanted to influence public opinion with its "partial and selective" public release on Dec 4 of documents relating to consultations held with Malaysia on the proposed flight path for the Seletar Airport.

In the statement, Malaysia told Singapore to also release letters from the Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia to CAAS, dated Oct 9, Nov 15, Nov 21, and Nov 28 this year. "Failing to do so, we are prepared to release them for full disclosure of such information for the public's comprehension of our stand on the same," it said.

To this, Singapore said its view is that negotiations should be kept confidential to facilitate frank and constructive exchanges, which is why it has not released any other correspondence between Singapore and Malaysia on the matter. "The Malaysia Minister for Transport, Anthony Loke, had expressed a similar view on Dec 4, 2018," it said.

"Nonetheless, we have no objection if Malaysia feels the need to release correspondence on this matter. However, we observe that the Malaysia Ministry of Transport has only mentioned its letters from October and November 2018.

"For transparency, Malaysia should ensure that all correspondence and records of discussions between Singapore and Malaysia be published, including the record of discussion of the latest meeting between the two countries on Nov 29-30, 2018," it added.

The dispute over the ILS, which is a landing navigation aid to guide aircraft to a runway, arose after Singapore broadcast the ILS in its Aeronautical Information Publication (AIP) on Dec 1 without Malaysia's agreement. The broadcast is the outcome of Singapore’s earlier decision to transfer chartered business jets, private jets and turboprop operations from its Changi Airport to Seletar Airport beginning December this year.

The published ILS noted that aircraft’s flight approach to Seletar Airport would be from the north, over Pasir Gudang, Johor, which Loke had argued would encroach into Malaysian airspace. Loke had also claimed that the Singaporean authorities had “never spoken to CAAM” on the matter.

The correspondence Singapore released, dated between Dec 5, 2017 and Nov 30, 2018, included e-mails sent by CAAS to CAAM, and an extract of the minutes of a meeting between the two parties.