Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Lee: Issues will be resolved

LANGKAWI: Singapore yesterday hinted that outstanding bilateral issues with Malaysia will be resolved through international arbitration.

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said the issues would have to be resolved “at some point.”

“They are not easy matters to be resolved, otherwise we would not have inherited them from our predecessors.

“So we ought to deal with them in a way that is acceptable to both sides and at the same time it must not affect our bilateral relations.

“These are specific issues, let’s tackle them in a way that is completely acceptable,” he told reporters after a get-together with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi here yesterday.

Lee used the overlapping claims over Pulau Batu Putih as an example of dealing with bilateral problems. The matter is in the International Court of Justice.

“Whichever way the judgement goes, Singapore will accept, Malaysia will accept. I think we will move on from there and that’s one possible model on how we can deal with other issues as well.”

Malaysia and Singapore are disputing the sovereignty of the tiny island 7.7 nautical miles from Johor and 25 nautical miles from Singapore. Singapore administers the lighthouse on Pulau Batu Putih.

In 1994, both agreed to take the matter to the International Court of Justice in The Hague and have made written submissions. Public hearings are scheduled to start on Nov 6.

Malaysia and Singapore Cabinet ministers attended the get-together. On the Malaysian side, they included Works Minister Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu, Transport Minister Datuk Seri Chan Kong Choy and Johor Mentri Besar Datuk Ghani Othman.

Abdullah later said Malaysia agreed that while outstanding issues were hard to resolve, “we don’t want to get bogged down by these issues while there are other things we would like to do”.

The outstanding bilateral issues are the price of water sold to Singapore, the use of Malaysian airspace by the Singapore air force, the development of KTM Bhd land in Singapore, the new bridge to replace the Causeway and the early withdrawal of Central Provident Fund contributions by Malaysians working in Singapore - The Star

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