Incursion? No, Singapore says its planes flew low over Johor as part of multilateral military exercise

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The Singapore clarification follows yesterday’s call by Pasir Gudang MP Hassan Abdul Karim on the Malaysian and Johor governments to investigate supposed incursions by Singapore military aircraft into Malaysian airspace. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri
The Singapore clarification follows yesterday’s call by Pasir Gudang MP Hassan Abdul Karim on the Malaysian and Johor governments to investigate supposed incursions by Singapore military aircraft into Malaysian airspace. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 20 — Singapore’s Defence Ministry today sought to assuage alarm here after its jets were spotted flying low in Johor airspace recently, saying it was part of an authorised five-nation military exercise hosted by Malaysia.

Citing the republic’s Defence Ministry, the Straits Times today reported that the exercise was part of the Five Power Defence Arrangements (FPDA) established in 1971 consisting of Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, New Zealand, and Britain.

“This was during the Exercise Bersama Gold, a Five Power Defence Arrangements (FPDA) exercise held from October 4 to 18,” the Singapore ministry was quoted as saying.

The Singapore-owned newspaper also reported that the flypast and a naval vessel display off Marina South on October 18 were to mark the FDPA’s 50th anniversary this year.

It said the Malaysian and Singaporean Civil Aviation Authorities had issued early notice of the exercise on September 9 and 10.

According to the newspaper, the exercise involved 2,600 military troops from all five countries, six maritime helicopters, three maritime patrol aircraft, and up to 25 fighter planes.

The Singapore clarification follows yesterday’s call by Pasir Gudang MP Hassan Abdul Karim on the Malaysian and Johor governments to investigate supposed incursions by Singapore military aircraft into Malaysian airspace.

Hassan had said he received many complaints concerning these low flying aircrafts from the public, especially local residents from the Pasir Gudang and Tebrau parliamentary constituencies this month.

He also claimed the frequency of these sightings appeared to increase after calls for a review into the ownership of Pulau Batu Puteh, or Pedra Branca.

Checks showed that the Exercise Bersama Gold took place on October 5.

Other news reports quoted the Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia saying the FPDA exercise on October 5 included maritime drills off the southern and east coast of peninsular Malaysia.

Malaysia was represented by Lieutenant-Gen Datuk Yazid Arshad of the Royal Malaysian Air Force at the Butterworth-based Headquarters Integrated Area Defence Systems in Penang.

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