Monday, May 26, 2008

Pulau Batu Puteh in History

KUALA LUMPUR, May 26 — There was no support in Parliament today for the official position that the decision by the International Court of Justice on Pulau Batu Puteh was a win-win for Singapore and Malaysia. Instead, it was a day of regret, recrimination and some republic-bashing.

As expected, the MPs from Johor had much to say about the loss of the outcrop of rocks to Singapore. Dr Mohd Puad Zarkashi cut through all the fluff and said that sovereignty fell to the republic as a result of Malaysia failing to keep a proper record of its historical documents.

He noted that the government could not locate a letter from the British seeking permission from the Johor government to build a lighthouse on the island. The letter was a piece of “valuable evidence” which could have swung the case in Malaysia’s favour.

“As a Johorean I am disappointed. We lost simple as that. I don’t believe in the win-win situation as claimed by the government. This is the end result of not placing a premium on historical documents,” he declared.

To remedy this situation, Puad called on the government to create a centre to cater specifically for the storage and documentation of important national documents.

Hamim Samuri (BN-Ledang) said that the loss of Batu Puteh should make Malaysia more vigilant. “We must watch Singapore’s activities on our territory. We have to monitor Pulau Merambung which is near Tuas in Singapore,” he said, adding that the government had to ensure that Pulau Pisang remains in Malaysian hands.

“The Singaporeans fly their flag on the lighthouse there. It gives the impression that they have sovereignty over the island. We must ensure the island does not go the way of Batu Puteh,” he said.

Parti Islam SeMalaysia are going to table a motion tomorrow to debate the ICJ decision and party firebrand Mahfuz Omar gave an indication of its plan of attack.

He blamed Attorney-General Tan Sri Gani Patail for the loss of Batu Puteh to Singapore. “The way I see it, the attorney-general has failed in giving sound advice to the government,” he said.

Since Friday, the Opposition including Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim have tapped into the rich vein of dissatisfaction against Gani and blamed him for the poor handling of the case. The AG has also come under attack for the dismal track record of his prosecutors in major criminal cases.

Independent MP Datuk Ibrahim Ali (Ind) said that the government had to be wary of Singapore, and expanded the scope of concern beyond the ICJ decision.

Singaporeans had a water treatment plant in Gunung Pulai which was run by the republic. “No one can go near Gunung Pulai. I have been made to understand that the the plant is big and if it was to burst half of Johor will be submerged in a flood,” he said. - The Malaysian Insider

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