Singapore minister: Ties with Malaysia face ‘downward spiral,’ hopes for amicable resolution

Singaporean foreign minister Vivian said his country remains ‘committed to finding an amicable resolution through dialogue’ in its ongoing dispute with Malaysia. (AFP)
Updated 14 January 2019
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Singapore minister: Ties with Malaysia face ‘downward spiral,’ hopes for amicable resolution

  • ‘Singapore remains committed to finding an amicable resolution through dialogue’
  • Singapore was once part of Malaysia but the two separated acrimoniously in 1965

SINGAPORE: Singapore’s ties with neighboring Malaysia could face a “downward spiral” over a series of maritime and airspace disputes, the wealthy city-state’s foreign minister said on Monday, adding that he hoped they could be resolved amicably.
The disputes are the latest development in the neighbors’ long-running spat over part of the Singapore Strait, one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes.
Vivian Balakrishnan’s comments came after Singapore protested to Malaysia on Sunday over a state minister’s presence on a Malaysian vessel the island said was in its territorial waters illegally, and called off a planned meeting on commercial cooperation.
Malaysia’s recent actions have upset the status quo that had been in place for years, said Balakrishnan, who held a meeting last week with his Malaysian counterpart, Saifuddin Abdullah, where they agreed on steps to defuse the tension.
“These actions did not bode well for our bilateral relationship,” Balakrishnan told parliament. “They created the risk for a dangerous downward spiral of measures and countermeasures.
“Singapore remains committed to finding an amicable resolution through dialogue,” he said, adding that if negotiations failed to produce an acceptable solution, Singapore was prepared to seek international dispute settlement.
In December, Singapore pushed back against a move by Malaysia to extend the limits of a port in its southern state of Johor, saying the new boundary encroached on its territorial waters, a statement the Malaysians called inaccurate.
Earlier, Malaysia told Singapore it intended to take back control of airspace over a part of Johor that Singapore had managed since 1974, following the introduction of a new landing system at Singapore’s Seletar airport.
The landing system required aircraft flying into the small Singapore airport to take a flight path over Malaysian airspace, to which Malaysia objected.
Singapore was once part of Malaysia but the two separated acrimoniously in 1965, clouding diplomatic and economic dealings for years.


British lawmaker calls for Asma Assad to be stripped of British citizenship 

Updated 20 February 2019
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British lawmaker calls for Asma Assad to be stripped of British citizenship 

  • The MP of the Liberal Democrats, Tom Brake, wrote to the Home Secretary Amber Rudd, urging her to use her powers to deny Asma Assad of her citizenship
  • Asma used social media to support her husband’s leadership after a global condemnation of his alleged role in a chemical weapons attack on civilians

A prominent British politician has called for Asma Assad, the British wife of the Syrian President, Bashar Assad, to be stripped of her UK citizenship. 

The foreign affairs spokesman of the centrist party, the Liberal Democrats, Tom Brake, wrote to the Home Secretary Amber Rudd, urging her to use her powers to deny Asma Assad of her citizenship after her social media posts in support of her husband’s regime.

 “The first lady of Syria has acted not as a private citizen but as a spokesperson for the Syrian presidency... Boris Johnson has urged other countries to do more about Syria, but the British government could say to Asma Assad, either stop using your position to defend barbaric acts, or be stripped of your citizenship,” Brake was cited by British daily the Guardian as saying.  

Asma used social media to support her husband’s leadership after a global condemnation of his alleged role in a chemical weapons attack on civilians.

She posted a message saying: “The presidency of the Syrian Arab Republic affirms that what America has done is an irresponsible act that only reflects a short-sightedness, a narrow horizon, a political and military blindness to reality and a naive pursuit of a frenzied false propaganda campaign.”

Conservative MP, Nadhim Zahawi, also joined the call to revoke her British nationality, calling Asma “very much part of the propaganda machine that is committing war crimes.”

Asma was born and raised in London to Syrian parents and left the UK in 2000 to live in Syria where she married Assad.