Puad accuses Tun M of dodging participation in RCI on Pulau Batu Puteh sovereignty issue

UMNO Supreme Council member Datuk Dr Puad Zarkashi alleged that former premier Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad is finding excuses to avoid participation in the royal commission of inquiry (RCI) concerning the sovereignty of Pulau Batu Puteh due to committing an “unforgivable sin”.

According to Puad, Dr Mahathir’s objection to former Chief Justice Tun Md Raus Sharif leading the RCI indicates his reluctance to confront his past decisions.

“Dr Mahathir’s objection should not be entertained. The rakyat want to know why he withdrew two review applications against the International Court of Justice’s (ICJ) rulings that Singapore had sovereignty over Pulau Batu Puteh.

“It (the decision) is mysterious. Why was the decision not discussed in the cabinet? Why was the decision rushed, and the then-attorney-general put on forced leave?

“Dr Mahathir is looking for excuses to avoid the RCI. He knows that the ‘sin’ of losing one’s territory is severe and cannot be forgiven for generations to come,” Puad penned on his Facebook page.

Moreover, Dr Mahathir’s lawyer Rafique Rashid has suggested that Dr Mahathir may decline participation in the RCI if Raus continues to chair it due to a conflict of interest.

The RCI was established to review matters related to the government’s decision in 2018, during Dr Mahathir’s tenure as prime minister to withdraw two review applications against the ICJ’s rulings in 2008.

The ICJ ruled in 2008 that Singapore had sovereignty over Pulau Batu Puteh while Malaysia had sovereignty over Middle Rocks. Additionally, ownership of South Ledge would be determined based on the maritime boundaries of the country that controls it.

The conflict between Dr Mahathir and Raus dates back to 2017 when the former contested Raus’s appointment as an additional Federal Court judge. Puad criticised Mahathir’s record on appointments, alleging conflicts of interest during his tenure.

Moreover, Puad also criticised Dr Mahathir’s credibility on the issue of conflict of interest, citing controversial appointments made during his tenure including those of Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) chief commissioner Datuk Seri Mohd Shukri Abdul and Richard Malanjum as the chief justice.

“He appointed Shukri Abdul, who was already retired, as the MACC chief commissioner. Later, Latheefa Koya (a politician) replaced Shukri.

“The appointment of Richard as the chief justice to replace Raus was also controversial. In fact, appointing Tan Sri Abdul Hamid Bador as the inspector-general of police on a contract basis was also questionable,” said the Johor state assembly speaker. – Feb 21, 2024


Main photo credit: NSTP

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