THE crucial move by the government to establish a Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) is viewed as a timely and ongoing commitment to uphold the nation’s dignity and sovereignty, in relation to Batu Puteh, Batuan Tengah, and Tubir Selatan.
Penawar state assemblyman Fauziah Misri said that the RCI would provide a transparent platform to discuss, scrutinise and unravel the issue.
“I hope everyone called by the authorities to provide evidence can do so transparently. This way, people can know the true and accurate facts of what happened and gain a better understanding of the situation.
“In addition to the RCI, I think that all discussions and decisions should be referred to the Sultan of Johor first. I also suggest this issue should be discussed in Parliament,” she said when met at the Sungai Musoh fishermen’s jetty, here on Thursday (Jan 25).
Tanjung Surat assemblyman Aznan Tamin expressed his dismay and grief after Malaysia lost Batu Puteh as a result of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) decision that handed over the sovereignty of Batu Puteh to Singapore in 2008.
“The RCI should have been established a long time ago. Especially to examine why the previous government withdrew or missed opportunities to demand a review of the Batu Puteh issue,” he said.
Aznan also expressed hope that the RCI would consider the need to map Malaysian and Singaporean waters, which is viewed as essential in addressing the fishing territory issue around Batu Puteh and Batuan Tengah.
He said the fishermen feel disappointed and there are claims of them being driven away from the area despite having fished there for decades.
“Their fishing grounds are now shrinking,” he said when asked to comment on the establishment of RCI.
Yesterday, during the Cabinet meeting, an agreement was reached to establish an RCI tasked with examining the management of issues related to the sovereignty of Batu Puteh, Batuan Tengah, and Tubir Selatan.
Chief Secretary to the Government, Tan Sri Mohd Zuki Ali said the RCI was established under the Commission of Inquiry Act 1950 (Act 119), with the proposed members of the commission to be approved by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.
He emphasised that the appointment of RCI members will take into account experts with vast experience in the judiciary, legislation, and public administration, who can conduct investigations in a transparent, fair, and impartial manner to avoid conflicts of interest with related parties.
On Dec 14, 2022, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim was reported as saying the government wants the Batu Puteh claim issue to be reviewed to facilitate immediate and more meaningful negotiations with Singapore.
On May 23, 2008, the ICJ decided that Singapore had sovereignty over Batu Puteh or Pedra Branca, while Batuan Tengah or Middle Rocks, an outcropping of rocks located about one kilometre from Batu Puteh, belonged to Malaysia.
The ICJ, however, did not decide on the sovereignty over Tubir Selatan (South Ledge), ruling that Tubir Selatan belonged to the state in whose territorial waters it lies.
On Feb 2, 2017, the Malaysian government applied for a review of the 2008 ICJ decision.
Malaysia filed the application based on three key documents, which revealed that Singapore’s top officials never considered themselves as having sovereignty over Batu Puteh from Johor.
Two of the documents, which only became public after the ICJ issued its judgment, also showed British Navy officials acknowledging that the territorial waters around the island belonged to Johor.
However, in May 2018, the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government under the leadership of Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad withdrew the application for review, two weeks before the case was scheduled to be heard at the ICJ on June 11, 2018. – Jan 25, 2024
Main pic credit: Utusan Malaysia