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The collision between Malaysian government vessel Polaris and Greek vessel Piraeus in the disputed waters off Tuas on Saturday (9 Feb). Source: Singapore Police Force

MPA refutes Singapore Herald’s “false online allegations” regarding the Singapore government’s role as the “chief culprit” in the Polaris-Pireaus collision

Singapore's Port and Maritime Authority (MPA) has issued a rebuttal against the "false online allegations" made by online publication Singapore Herald regarding the recent collision between Malaysian government vessel Polaris and Greek vessel Piraeus in the disputed waters off Tuas, insisting that "there is neither a ‘chief culprit’ nor an ‘arranged’ incident" as claimed by the blog.

SH, formerly known as States Times Review, claimed in a post on Sunday (10 Feb) that "According [to] sources in the shipping industry, preliminary investigations are now pointing to the Singapore government being the chief culprit arranging for the incident as a case to drive Malaysia out of the disputed Johor Straits waters".

"It is no coincidence, Greece is a bankrupted country with 178.6% of its GDP in government debt.

"Likely chances are that the Singapore dictatorship could have deliberated the sea incident on Saturday (Feb 9), as a form of debt payment," it added.

SH further alleged: "In the incident at the disputed waters, the first respondent was the Singapore state media who had their cameras prepared for the incident.

"A video was uploaded by the Singapore state media, Straits Times, almost immediately after the incident at 2.26pm.

"The Singapore government also issued an inaccurate press release stating the time of collision at 2.28pm - which is likely an arranged ETA time for the "incident" arranged between the Singapore government and its debtor.

"The Singapore authorities, after all, were the first respondent and even had a video: how could they get the time wrong then?" SH posited.

MPA addressed the alleged discrepancy in the timing reported by The Straits Times and the Singapore government's press release as claimed by SH, stating the following:

Here are the facts:
1428hrs: PIREAS collided with POLARIS on its way from Singapore to Tanjung Pelepas. The incident was witnessed by PCG patrolling in the vicinity. PIREAS also reported its collision with POLARIS to MPA’s Port Operations Control Centre, and indicated that it had not sustained any damage.

1902hrs: After the facts had been established, MPA released a media statement, along with a photo of the incident.

1903hrs: The Straits Times posted the statement and carried the picture on its online site. It then followed up with a Facebook post at 1907hrs.

2000hrs: Videos of the collision were provided to the media.

SH also alleged that the crew onboard the Piraeus "have taken bribes to arrange the crash as the ship set off in Polaris's direction, and timing the crash by differing its sailing speed".

"A check with the vessel speed revealed that the Greek ship informed the Malaysian ship that they will steer clear.

"The Greek crews slowed down the vessel 50 minutes before, but they did not change the course - ostensibly to minimise damage on the deliberate contact," it charged.

The blog further speculated: "The Singapore authorities, who claimed that the incident took place in their waters, did not attend to the incident - as if they already knew that the crash is nothing serious and there would be no injuries or life-threatening mishaps".

"Investigators are now looking up finances of the Greek ship owner, Chronos Shipping, and the interactions of the crews at the Singapore harbour," it concluded.

Consequently, MPA reiterated that investigations are still ongoing, and "strongly urges the public to avoid spreading deliberate online falsehoods".