PENANG DAP deputy chairman Prof P. Ramasamy has applauded Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim for taking a fresh approach in dealing with outstanding matters with neighbouring countries, including the Pulau Batu Puteh controversy.
In a news conference yesterday afternoon (Dec 14), Anwar mentioned that the maritime dispute will be dealt with in a meaningful way by emphasising bilateral diplomatic ties with Singapore.
In 2008, the ICJ decided that Pulau Batu Puteh, or Pedra Branca, belonged to Singapore, Middle Rocks to Malaysia and South Ledge to the state in the territorial waters of which it is located.
In June 2017, Malaysia applied to the ICJ to request an interpretation of the judgement.
In 2018, the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government under the leadership of then prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad withdrew an application to overturn the ICJ’s ruling awarding legal jurisdiction of Pulau Batu Puteh to Singapore even before the hearing of the case.
On this matter, Ramasamy said making another review application might be an “exercise in futility”, adding that Malaysia might have already exhausted the possibility of a review when Mahathir had withdrawn the appeal four years ago.
“It is just that the Malaysian government under former prime minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob could not accept the painful decision that the country had lost its sovereignty over the island,” he opined.
“This was why a task force was hastily established to ascertain why Malaysia lost the island to Singapore and who was responsible.”
Ramasamy noted that the task force was very political in nature and intended to cast the blame on Dr Mahathir for withdrawing the appeal in the first place, and this is why Anwar might be seen as taking the right and more sensible approach to the case.
“Rather than harping on the theme of trying to get back the island by appealing to the ICJ, Anwar has decided to take a more sensible diplomatic initiative in strengthening ties with Singapore instead,” he pointed out.
“Of course, there is no guarantee that such an approach might bring Batu Puteh back to Malaysia but such a move might improve relations between the two neighbouring countries for the resolution of outstanding problems, including on Batu Puteh.” – Dec 15, 2022