Sunday, June 01, 2008

Malaysia not giving up hope on Batu Puteh yet


KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia has renewed the search for evidence to stake its claim on Batu Puteh, whose sovereignty was deemed to be under Singapore by the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim said although the ruling by the ICJ at The Hague on May 23 was final and not subject to appeal, there was a specific provision in the court’s rules that allowed for a judicial review of a case within 10 years if new evidence was adduced.

As such, he said he had directed Wisma Putra to try again to trace the ancient letter written by British Governor William T. Butterworth to the Temenggong and Sultan of Johor seeking permission to build the Horsburgh Lighthouse on Batu Puteh.

During the hearing, Malaysia had contended that it was on the basis of the consent of the Temenggong and Johor Sultan via a reply dated Nov 25, 1844 (this letter was produced to the ICJ) that Great Britain built and then operated the lighthouse on the island.

“If we can gain sight of that letter, the gate can be opened again. There is a maximum 10-year period but preferably it should be done within six years.

”The letter could be in London, the British being too good at archiving. We have searched with them but it has not been conclusively proven that they don’t have it.

“Probably it is in Singapore. That would be a double jeopardy,” Dr Rais said in an interview.

It is learnt that the initial search for the letter covered 40 institutions in 11 countries – Britain, India, Australia, New Zealand, the United States, the Netherlands, Portugal, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia.

In 1994, Malaysia requested Singapore to furnish a copy of the governor’s letter if it was in its possession but the republic did not respond.

Ambassador-at-large Tan Sri Abdul Kadir Mohamad, who was Malaysia’s agent at the ICJ hearing, had told the court that if the letter still existed, it was likely to be in Singapore’s archives in the file named “Letters to Native Rulers” which Malaysia did not have access to.

Dr Rais explained that Malaysia could introduce a separate motion to the ICJ if the letter was found.

The ICJ awarded sovereignty of Batu Puteh to Singapore in a 12-4 decision, mainly on the basis that Malaysia had not done anything to invoke its rights on the island, which Singapore calls Pedra Branca, for over 100 years.

The ruling on Middle Rocks was 15-1 in Malaysia’s favour. On the other disputed territory of South Ledge, the ICJ ruled that it belonged to the country in whose territorial waters the outcrop was located.

The ICJ’s “split” decision brought to a close the 28-year-old territorial dispute between both countries. Singapore first laid claim to Batu Puteh through a diplomatic note protesting the inclusion of the island as part of Malaysia in a 1979 map.

Dr Rais, who heads the technical committee for Malaysia set up to determine the South Ledge issue, said Wisma Putra secretary-general Tan Sri Rastam Mohamed Isa had led a team of officials to the republic on Wednesday to get things going.

The minister said he agreed with views by law experts that the crucial thing for both countries to do now was to demarcate the waters in the area to avoid problems and confusion.

He said he would propose to Singapore that the waters off Batu Puteh, Middle Rocks and South Ledge be opened to fishermen from both countries and also Indonesia.

Glimmer of hope burns brightly

Despite the May 23 International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruling on Batu Puteh, Malaysians are still asking questions about its loss to Singapore. However, Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim tells Paul Gabriel there’s hope yet.

His point of view: Rais says not many people appreciate the fact Malaysia won Middle Rocks.

You described the ICJ judgment as a “win-win” situation for Malaysia and Singapore. But many criticised the way you deemed it as we lost the crux in contention – Batu Puteh.

I still maintain my stand that we have half the victory, and half the failure. All are rocks anyway, there is no mempelam (mango) there, nothing, not even a blade of grass. But people like to rub it in. But let's face it. Malaysia did not lose all. Whoever says that, either he or she does not understand the international law result, or they are playing belukar politics.

There are those who say that Malaysia lost out to Singapore in terms of legal expertise, as they also had the Chief Justice in their team. How do you respond?

It is a subjective assessment, of course. The fact that Batu Puteh is not with Malaysia now, I think that is the nagging problem. The fact that we have Middle Rocks, not many people appreciate.

We had a good legal team. Luminaries in international law were with us. Elihu Lauterpacht, James Crawford, these are big names. Singapore did not have big names, but they got the failure of history to be noted ie why the maps of Malaysia were put forward to be the principle document to be exhibited. Which means we ourselves recognised that Batu Puteh was not under the jurisdiction of Malaysia. This is as much as saying the island did not belong to us, so it is not on our maps.

And then the letter of Sept 12, 1953 (written by the Acting State Secretary of Johor that the Johor government did not claim ownership of the island) which was obtained by the British, was vital. Coupled with the fact that for over 100 years, Johor or the Federation of Malaya did not do anything to supervise or administer Batu Puteh. Of course, we were saying other things, but this were the primary evidence that the court held.

We did put up very strong arguments on certain other aspects, but these were not evidenced by proper documents.

You were appointed Foreign Minister only in March this year. So, you did not have any part to play on the course of the case?

Yes, I came in at the tail end. I was the Foreign Minister in 1986 for a year. I am suffering the backlash, while the others (previous foreign ministers involved in the case) are bersiul-siul (whistling). I wish I was there at the beginning.

What would you have done differently then?

I would have told the Prime Minister then (Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad) not to agree to go to the ICJ. That would have been one. The other is, to leave no stone unturned in terms of documentary evidence. Thirdly, the ministerial satisfaction should have been one of the factors to be determined before asking the PM to say “yes” or “no” to go to the ICJ.

But what I don't like is that after the case has been done, we like to lament. I'm not in that frame of mind. I like to look forward. There's nothing to be gained by criticising what we did not do, what we ought to have done. The power-that-be at that time should have thought about that. I'm now actually cleaning the dishes after the meal.

We must gear up and say this (Batu Puteh) is gone, we'd like to see what we can do for Middle Rocks, which could be bigger than Batu Puteh if Malaysia knows how to play its role.

There is an ancient letter written by the British Governor to the Johor Temenggong and Sultan, seeking permission for Britain to build the Horsburgh Lighthouse on Batu Puteh, which could not be located. How damaging was this?

If we can gain sight of that letter, the gate can be opened again. There is a maximum 10-year grace period for us to seek a judicial review of the case if we can get new evidence, but preferably it should be done within six years.

The letter could be in London. We have searched with them but it has not been conclusively proven that they don’t have it.

Probably it is in Singapore. That would be a double jeopardy. I have directed Wisma Putra to renew the search for the letter.

What impact would the letter have on the case if retrieved?

I can only anticipate that it would show sovereignty of the island never ceased to be Johor's despite the fact that the Horsburgh Lighthouse was built. But of course when you introduce (new) evidence, there could be other strong, compelling reasons under international law to rebut it.

Which means although we find the letter, it might cease to be of operation if we are shown not to have been operating in the island for 100 years. It could be that way too. Of course, we'll have to notify Singapore of any new evidence. This is in the rules of the game.

What could we do with Middle Rocks and South Ledge if we get that, too?

We must regard the rocks as gems, because international law will give us territorial rights. We can erect something notable like a research post and let fishermen go there.

You head the technical committee for Malaysia to determine the South Ledge issue. What will you propose?

Actually, my idea is to propose to Singapore to let fishermen from both countries have access to the entire area. That would be the humane thing to do. Indonesian fishermen should also be allowed in as South Ledge is southward looking. This has never been proposed. But of course, I don't mean trawler fishermen. I will visit the area with my Singapore counterpart George Yeo soon - The Star

Ruling the people, not the land

By Huzir Sulaiman

Has anything changed in 500 years?

THE May 23, 2008 judgment of the International Court of Justice was interesting, but for reasons I didn’t expect. Never mind the little white rock; it made me see Malaysian society in a whole new way.

In declaring who had sovereignty over the contested granite island of Pulau Batu Puteh, the Court summarised and evaluated the arguments that had been presented to them in the five years it took the case to be heard. One of the minor lines of argument advanced by Singapore had an unusual anthropological twist.

To quote paragraph 76 of the ICJ judgment: “Singapore, in support of its assertion that the Sultan of Johor did not have sovereignty over Pedra Branca/Pulau Batu Puteh, advances another argument based on what it describes as ‘the traditional Malay concept of sovereignty.’”

“Thus it contends: ‘Malaysia has glossed over . . . the traditional Malay concept of sovereignty. This concept undermines Malaysia’s claim to an original title. It is based mainly on control over people, and not control over territory. Traditional Malay sovereignty is people-centric and not territory-centric.’”

Now, the Court swiftly rejected this argument, saying that Malaysia had indeed shown that Johor owned Pulau Batu Puteh in the distant past.

Of course, the Court ultimately held that sovereignty had passed to Singapore, essentially because from 1953 onwards the Republic had acted as though it owned Pulau Batu Puteh, and had not been challenged by Malaysia.

But while politicians have been fixated on Malaysia’s failure to respond to Singapore’s acts of sovereignty, I find it intriguing to explore the ramifications of the rejected anthropological argument.

What would lead one to believe “traditional Malay sovereignty is people-centric and not territory-centric”? And more importantly, if it is indeed a justifiable notion, what does it then permit us to say about contemporary Malaysian society?

Going back to Singapore’s written submission of 25 Jan 2005 (“The Counter-Memorial of the Republic of Singapore”, to use the Court’s evocative phrase), we find the academic evidence set out in section 3.4, which I shall quote in full:

“The consensus among modern scholars of Malay history is that, unlike modern European States, the concept of 'sovereignty' in traditional Malay polities was based, not on the control of territory, but on the allegiance of inhabitants.

“For example, historian Nicholas Tarling wrote (in Nation and States in Southeast Asia): ‘The idea that the ambit of a state was geographically fixed was rarely accepted. What counted in Southeast Asia, sparse in population, was allegiance. Whom, rather than what, did the state comprise?... What concerned a ruler was the people not the place.’

“Historian Leonard Andaya has also written (in Writing a History of Brunei): ‘Historians have long accepted the truism that in Southeast Asia it is not the control over land but people which is the crucial element in statecraft.’

“The number of historians who have made the same point in one way or another is formidable. Their conclusions are further reinforced by the findings of Malay specialists in other disciplines such as sociology and anthropology.

“A useful summary of their findings is provided by Jane Carsten in her study of boundaries in Malaysia (Borders, Boundaries, Tradition and States in the Malaysian Periphery): ‘The traditional Southeast Asian state, or negeri, was a different kind of entity from the modern nation-state. Its borders were shifting and permeable... Anderson, Tambiah (1976), Wolters (1982), Errington (1989) and others have discussed the nature of the traditional Southeast Asian polity. In Southeast Asia the traditional state was defined by its centre not by its boundaries... control over people was of greater significance to the ruler than control over land....’”

What happens if we mentally divorce these excerpts from their recent use as part of a high-stakes legal argument, and put them back in their original, unemotional academic context?

The traditional Malay notion of sovereignty, these scholars are saying, is characterised by two things: A lack of concern about land, and a great deal of concern about the allegiance of the people.

But has anything changed in 500 years? Contemporary Malaysia still appears to conform to those two characteristics.

Our elected rulers do not have a very good track record in “controlling the land”, in all senses of the term: Malaysia does not adequately protect the environment. Illegal logging has taken a huge toll. Our water supply is not yet clean. We are not agriculturally self-sufficient. Illegal factories and developments abound. Land scams are a frequent occurrence. Landslides are a seemingly constant threat. And we cannot protect our territorial integrity: our borders are notoriously porous. Illegal immigrants are a source of social and economic tension in many parts of the country.

Meanwhile, the Government clearly shows that “control over people is of greater significance”, with the rhetoric of allegiance paramount: Critics are accused of sedition. Non-Malays are subject to accusations of disloyalty. Malays who do not support Umno are accused of betraying the Malay race. Academics must sign the “Aku Janji” loyalty pledge. Media are urged to display enthusiasm for government policies under implicit threat of revocation of licence. Charismatic politicians from Khairy to Anwar are accused of being agents of foreign powers. And our best-loved patriotic song: Setia.

Suddenly, everything that I find frustrating about our country becomes understandable in light of this paradigm. Malaysia simply doesn’t add up if you look at it as a modern nation-state, but it functions beautifully as a traditional 16th century one.

Perhaps it’s time to recalibrate our expectations. Vision 2020? Let’s try Vision 1520.

Huzir Sulaiman writes for theatre, film, television, and newspapers.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Check documents before signing, Negri MB says

NEGRI Sembilan Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan wants all state employees to be more than thorough when signing agreements on behalf of the state government or its agencies.

He said the state government had been involved in several legal tussles because the employees representing it were not meticulous when perusing the agreements entered into.

“Over the years, we have had several legal problems because of this. Some of these cases involving land and other issues were taken to court.

“We have managed to settle some out of court, but several more are still pending,” he said after chairing the state executive council meeting at Wisman Negri.

Mohamad was responding to the decision of the International Court of Justice that handed ownership of Pulau Batu Puteh to Singapore, among others, because the acting Johor state secretary then had said that the state was not claiming ownership of the island.

“This decision on Pulau Batu Puteh is a valuable lesson to all government employees. They must know the implications of not being extra careful when signing official letters,”
he said.

Mohamad said employees entrusted with such tasks should always take the trouble to check and verify facts with other experts if necessary.

On a separate matter, Mohamad said the state government was selective in allowing new investors to set up operations here.

“We do not want to boast of being able to bring in billions of ringgit in investments at the expense of our environment,” he said.

The state received RM2.6bil in foreign investments last year compared to RM1.6bil in 2006.

He said the state government hoped to get RM1bil in new investments every year to attain a five per cent growth. The state has been achieving this in the past four years.

Mohamad said there were plenty of opportunities for investments here particularly in Kuala Pilah and Jelebu districts.

“We also have plenty of granite, particularly green granite, in the state and we welcome investors in this industry,” he said.

On the development of the new township of Bandar Seri Sendayan, he said of the 2,118ha, 616ha had been given to former settlers of Felda LBJ.

“We plan to turn another 400ha into an industrial area, 100ha for a new township, 260ha for housing and another 260ha for higher learning institutions.

“The remainder would be used foran administrative centre and left as green lungs,” he said.

He said the projects would take some 15 years to be completed and would eventually house more than 60,000 people.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Rais wants all islands ‘noted’

THE Survey and Mapping Department has been directed to take note of the location of each island in Malaysian waters in the wake of the recent loss of Batu Puteh to Singapore.

Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim said the department had also been asked to determine if an island was inhabited and whether it was being viewed in an “administrative and legal manner” by any country.

“A technical committee has also been set up to go to the South Ledge area with Singaporean authorities.

“The committee will determine the area of territorial waters belonging to Malaysia. I will make an announcement when this is completed,” he said when replying to points raised during debate on the Supplementary Supply Bill.

He said there was also a need to expand the international law department in the ministry.

“At this moment, we have to depend on legal expertise on international law from Cambridge,” he said.

On May 23, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) awarded Batu Puteh to Singapore and the Middle Rocks to Malaysia but could not decide on the ownership of South Ledge.

Dr Rais said Malaysia had taken nearly 29 years to prepare for its claim on Batu Puteh before the ICJ.

“The Attorney-General’s Chambers submitted various advice papers to Wisma Putra on our claim. Research was also conducted by archival experts.

“There were 55 officers involved in researching old maps and historical documents,” he said.

Dr Rais said one reason ICJ decided to award Batu Puteh to Singapore was because the maps of Malaysia of 1962, 1965, 1970 and 1975 had all shown the Horsburg lighthouse as belonging to the republic.

“When these maps were submitted as evidence, the A-G tried to argue that these were just maps but the ICJ accepted them,” he said, adding that Middle Rocks was awarded to Malaysia based on an “ancient title”.

On Pulau Pisang, off the coast of Pontian, Dr Rais said the ministry would study what kind of development it could carry out on the island and was negotiating with the Johor state government on this.

On the Philippines’ renewed “claims” on Sabah, he said the country’s foreign minister had told him the matter was merely a political tool for a small group of politicians - The Star

Please hang on to historical documents

IT is no use blaming one another for our failure to keep proper historical documents which led us to lose Pulau Batu Puteh.

What has the National Archives Department got to say regarding the documentation of Pulau Batu Puteh? The function of the National Archives Department is to keep all historical documents and I understand that the documents are kept in microfilm under great security.

Why should we then set up a Historical Documentation Centre and duplicate the function of the National Archives?

The most important thing now is to ensure that all documents are intact pertaining to the other islands in the straits as well as the South China Sea. Let’s not be caught napping again!



Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Let’s not lose more of our islands

WE have just lost Pulau Batu Puteh to Singapore and I hope it will be the last. The Malaysian Government must ensure that all islands, outcrops and atolls that belong to us in the South China Sea, the Straits of Malacca and around Sabah and Sarawak are properly marked and documented to be known to the world that they belong to us. We cannot afford to lose any more land to foreign countries.

Besides ascertaining the locations of islands, outcrops and atolls that belong to us, we must do more than just claiming they belong to us and leave them as they are. If they are large ones they must be inhabited and developed on a permanent basis.

Some of them could be far away but efforts must be made to encourage Malaysians to live and develop these places.

Another immediate effort is to look into all ancient agreements that the British made with our rulers like the one on Pulau Batu Puteh. These agreements must be revoked as they were made when Malaysia (or Malaya at that point of time) had no formal government and the rulers were at the beck and call of the British.

This is modern time and Malaysia has an elected government and any agreement made by the British must be looked into and if need be, revoked. We cannot have foreigners administering or governing even an inch of our land.

If lighthouses must be operated, then it should be done by us and not by foreigners like at Pulau Pisang, off Pontian.

As a mark of ownership and loyalty to the country, non-governmental organisations and corporate entities should be encouraged to erect flag poles and fly the Jalur Gemilang on all the islands, outcrops and atolls.


Ministry can help take over lighthouse on Pulau Pisang


PETALING JAYA: The Foreign Ministry will negotiate with all parties concerned if Johor is interested in developing Pulau Pisang, said Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim.

The Foreign Minister said there was no question that the history and ownership of the 154ha island was under Johor although the lighthouse was currently manned by four Singaporean guards.

Johor and the British government signed a treaty in 1900, which gave ownership of the island to Johor and allowed the British to build the lighthouse, which guides ships into Singaporean Straits.

“Pulau Pisang’s situation is different from Batu Puteh. Some Johoreans are angry that we have not taken over the lighthouse.

“There is a big possibility to do this but all this while, there has been no application asking for the lighthouse to be taken over by Malaysia.

“If we don’t ask, how to give?” said Dr Rais last night when appearing on RTM1’s talk show Bersemuka Dengan Media: Isu Semasa dan Polisi Negara.

The Star’s assistant news editor Paul Gabriel and New Straits Times’ foreign editor Kamarulzaman Mohd Salleh fielded questions to Dr Rais together with the host, Sabaruddin Ahmad Sabri.

Dr Rais said the agreement between Johor and British could be re-looked and a diplomatic note could be sent to Singapore to express Malaysia’s intentions over the lighthouse.

Over the last few days, politicians and the public had suggested that the Government take over the operation of the lighthouse to ensure the island did not suffer the same fate as Batu Puteh.

On May 23, the International Court of Justice awarded Batu Puteh to Singapore partly because it had consistently shown acts of sovereignty over the tiny island for more than 100 years compared to Malaysia which showed no action for over a century.

Malaysia, however, was awarded Middle Rocks while the ownership of South Ledge was undetermined.

“Our win on Middle Rocks is significant as something we have never touched for hundreds of years is now ours. We need to appreciate this,” he added.

Dr Rais said one must not react emotionally to the Batu Puteh decision without knowing the facts or knowledge of international laws.

“What will happen if all three went to Singapore? We didn’t win all or lose all. It is not right to say we didn’t win as Middle Rock is very strategic for future research and monitoring,” he said.

Dr Rais said Singapore had shown positive attitude towards the joint technical committee, which would look into matters of territorial waters and rights of fishermen when carrying out ICJ’s decision - The Star

Najib: It’s straight to hospital for sick NS trainees

KUALA LUMPUR: All national service camp commandants have to immediately send trainees to the nearest hospital the moment they show signs of being sick, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said.

He said this would enable the programme to strive towards minimal incidents of deaths, or “zero deaths” in NS camps.

“If there are sick trainees, they (camp commandants) must take action immediately and send them to the nearest hospital.

“Even if it’s found to be just a normal fever, it doesn’t matter. It’s better for them to do that than to have something regrettable happen later,” the Deputy Prime Minister told reporters after a meeting with 80 NS camp commandants here yesterday.

Najib said that camp commandants “have to be more proactive and hands-on”.

“Parents place a very high responsibility on the Government to care for their children, which is why I stress that they (camp commandants) need to take their responsibilities very seriously. It’s more than just a normal job,” he said.

In Parliament last week, Najib said there have been 16 deaths since the NS programme started in 2004, with 11 trainees dying in camps and five during breaks.

On the search for other islands and marine features which could be eyed by neighbouring countries, Najib said necessary measures have to be taken to ensure Malaysia's sovereignty “will not be eroded”.

“We have to draw lessons from what has happened (with Batu Puteh). It is incumbent upon the departments concerned to take whatever measures to ensure Malaysia’s sovereignty will not be undermined,” he said.

On the ban on petrol stations from selling fuel to foreign-registered vehicles in border states, Najib the move should not hurt the tourism industry.

“Why should it hurt tourism? They have to buy petrol from their own country anyway.”

When asked how much this move would save the Government, he replied: “We can calculate the savings but most importantly it’s the question of principle.

“You’re talking about taxpayers money which is being used to subsidise those who are not entitled to receive the subsidy, and the level of subsidy is very high.”

When asked if new fuel prices would be announced on June 1, he replied: “We will have to wait for the Cabinet to decide." - The Star

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Usul tergempar bahas Batu Puteh ditolak

KUALA LUMPUR: Dewan Rakyat hari ini menolak usul bagi membahaskan kedaulatan Batu Puteh yang diputuskan milik Singapura oleh Mahkamah Keadilan Antarabangsa (ICJ) yang dibawa Salahuddin Ayub (Pas-Kubang Kerian).

Speaker Dewan Rakyat, Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia, berkata usul berkenaan ditolak kerana ia tidak perlu disegerakan kerana Malaysia sudah bersetuju dengan keputusan ICJ.

Beliau berkata sebelum menolak usul berkenaan ia sudah diteliti terlebih dulu dan perasaan Salahuddin adalah perasaan semua anggota dewan.

"Jadi keputusan itu (mengenai Batu Puteh) hendaklah kita ambil sebagai iktibar. Kita turut bersedih dan kekalahan (di ICJ) mungkin atas perkara teknikal sahaja.

"Saya mohon maaf kerana tidak dapat melayan usul yang dibangkitkan. Saya dah timbang dengan baik. Tak cukupkah dengan perkataan iktibar itu Yang Berhormat (merujuk kepada Salahuddin),” katanya.

Salahuddin kemudian bangun dan membangkitkan Peraturan Mesyuarat 18(3)(b) yang menyatakan bahawa 15 orang boleh bangun menyokong usul berkenaan sekiranya Speaker tidak menerimanya.

Seketika kemudian hampir semua anggota pembangkang yang berada di dalam persidangan bangun menyokong usul yang dikemukakan oleh Salahuddin berkenaan.

Bagaimanapun, Pandikar berkata peraturan mesyuarat itu tidak berbangkit kerana dia sudah menolak usul berkenaan.

"Adakalanya saya berpuas hati misalnya isu beras (baru-baru ini). Kalau ada peluang nanti boleh bertanyakan semasa menteri menjawab pada penggulungan,” katanya.

Salahuddin dua kali merayu supaya Pandikar menimbangkan semula keputusannya dan mengatakan jika ia dibawa mengikut Peraturan Mesyuarat 43 kesegeraannya akan hilang.

"Saya merayu atas nama rakyat, atas nama negara supaya ia dibahaskan. Kita mahu kesegeraan ini diambil segera. Perlu ditulis dalam sejarah dan hansard bahawa negara ini sedih dengan kehilangan pulau itu,” katanya — Bernama

Bid for island debate rejected

AN Opposition MP’s attempt to table an emergency motion to debate the loss of Batu Puteh to Singapore was rejected by Speaker Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia.

Salahuddin Ayub (PAS - Kubang Kerian) had sought permission to discuss the weaknesses of the Malaysian legal team in handling the case and the possible consequences to other overlapping claims by Malaysia and other outstanding issues with Singapore.

Pandikar Amin said while the matter was specific and of public interest, it was not urgent because Malaysia had agreed with the International Court of Justice's decision - The Star

Island lost because of weak team, says PAS

PAS has expressed dissatisfaction with the “weak” arguments of the Malaysian lawyers over the claim of Batu Puteh at the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

Its vice-president Nasharuddin Mat Isa said the weak arguments had resulted in Malaysia’s sovereignty of the island being taken over by Singapore.

“There was a lack of evidence to prop up our claims. Singapore, being awarded the island, will certainly bring a lot of hardship for our fishermen in Johor waters.

“We had a weak team of lawyers to fight our case,” he told reporters at the Parliament lobby here yesterday.

PAS, he added, would be explaining this issue to its members and rakyat all over the country.

Nasharuddin said PAS Youth chief Salahuddin Ayub would attempt to table an emergency motion under 18(1) of the Parliament Standing Orders on the issue.

On another matter, Pontian MP Ahmad Maslan urged the Government to move into another island, where Singapore still maintains a lighthouse, and develop it.

This, he added was to avoid “banana trees from fruiting twice” as Singapore could move to stake a claim to Pulau Pisang, located some 5km from the coast of Pontian, Johor.

“Why should Singapore be allowed to keep the lighthouse there? Wisma Putra told me that under the present agreement, Singapore is allowed to maintain the lighthouse as long as it is still being used and for as long as there are stars and moon.

“But in this day and age, no ship uses a lighthouse and all of them now rely on global positioning system and radar to guide them. So what’s the use of the lighthouse?” he said - The Star

Ghani: Malaysia has proof of Pulau Pisang ownership

JOHOR BARU: There is no danger of losing Pulau Pisang to Singapore as Malaysia clearly has sovereignty over the island.

Johor Mentri Besar Datuk Abdul Ghani Othman said that this was despite Singapore operating a lighthouse on the 154ha island.

He said the ownership of the island was based on a treaty between Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Abu Bakar and the British in 1900, which clearly stated that Malaysia had sovereignty over the island.

Malaysian territory: This August 1998 file picture shows former Pontian MP Datuk Dr Hasni Mohammad pointing at Pulau Pisang.

“Our land office records show that Pulau Pisang belongs to Johor,” he said.

Abdul Ghani was responding to a suggestion made by Pontian MP Ahmad Maslan that the Government should conduct a study on taking over the operation of the lighthouse.

Ahmad said Pulau Pisang might suffer a similar fate as Batu Puteh where the International Court of Justice ruled in favour of Singapore.

Abdul Ghani said the lighthouse, which guided ships into the Singapore Straits, was manned by four Singaporean guards.

“The guards are relieved by another team once a fortnight and are required to report to the marine department, Customs and immigration in Kukup every time they arrive and depart from the island,” he said.

He added that Malaysians were allowed to enter the island but were prohibited from entering the lighthouse.

Abdul Ghani said there were also 82 farmers who tend to orchards on the island.

“They are only given permission to work on the land but are not granted ownership of the land,” he said.

The island is about 12km from Pontian Kechil and 5km from Benut.

Meanwhile, Johor PAS officials lodged a police report against former foreign minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar, Abdul Ghani and Attorney-General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail, accusing them of causing Malaysia to lose Batu Puteh.

Johor Baru (South) OCPD Asst Comm Zainuddin Yaakob confirmed that the report had been received.

Perak Puteri Umno chief Dr Wan Norashikin Wan Noordin, meanwhile, said Malaysia must take the necessary steps to ensure she irrefutably owned all her islands and territories.

She said the steps were crucial in view of the recent decision on Batu Puteh.

DAP chairman Karpal Singh said the Malaysian Government was “foolhardy to have placed the case before ICJ” without the necessary evidence.

He was referring to Malaysian ambassador-at-large Tan Sri Abdul Kadir Mohamad’s statement that he could not locate a letter sent by a British governor in Butterworth to the Johor Temenggong seeking permission to build the Horsburgh Lighthouse on Batu Puteh.

Abdul Kadir led the Malaysian team to The Hague.

“Discovery of the letter now or in future cannot restore Malaysia’s sovereignty over Batu Puteh,” he said - The Star

Apathy made us lose Pulau Batu Puteh

AS mature nations Malaysia and Singapore have earned the respect of the international community for accepting the International Court of Justice (ICJ) decision on Singapore’s claim to Pulau Batu Puteh made on May 23. The decision was accepted in good faith with no untoward incident by citizens of both countries.

Nevertheless, for Malaysia it is a lesson well learnt that should not be repeated. Due to carelessness, apathy and goodwill Malaysia inadvertently handed Pulau Batu Puteh on a silver platter to Singapore.

My short stint at our country's Ministry of Foreign Affairs handling the Singapore desk has given me an insight into the psychological psyche of how Singapore operates or rather tick with precision as follows:

  • The siege mentality strengthens their will for survival. Being an island republic, they have to expand physically outward and upward. Any unoccupied landmass, island or coral reef provides an opportunity for expansion.

  • Their will to survive have made their leaders very focussed in projecting and planning for the future. Their diplomats are handpicked and well trained in the art of diplomacy and they don’t take bilateral relations for granted.

I once had an outing with Singapore diplomats at the Press Club. Over drinks they casually brought up the topic of Pulau Batu Puteh. I remembered vividly the conversation:

“What’s the situation on Pedra Branca?” asked my Singapore counterparts. I responded humorously “Are you referring to the Portuguese lady?” And all of us had a good laugh.

The moral of the story is that Singapore diplomats are well trained to gather information at all occasions. To them any outing is business and has great implication to Singapore’s survival.

I hope the ICJ decision has opened the eyes of Malaysian leaders and officials in not taking the country’s sovereignty for granted. Being nice, accommodating and tidak apa has its limits.

I sympathise with the fishermen of Tenggarang, Johor who have now forever lost their traditional resting place at Pulau Batu Puteh.

Gombak, Selangor.

Debate diverted to loss of island


DEBATE on a motion to re-distribute allocation from two defunct departments got sidetracked after both backbenchers and the Opposition voiced their dissatisfaction over the outcome of the Batu Puteh case.

It is our failure to keep proper historical documents that has led us to lose Pulau Batu Puteh - DR PUAD ZARKASHI (BN - BATU PAHAT)

Leading the pack was Dr Puad Zarkashi (BN – Batu Pahat), who decried the lack of proper documentation on the part of the Government leading to the loss of the island to Singapore.

“We must make sure that each department under the Unity, Culture, Arts and Heritage Ministry receives fair attention.

“For instance, on the question of heritage, it is our failure to keep proper historical documents that has led us to lose Pulau Batu Puteh. It’s such an important task but we neglected to do so.

“We have to set up a historical documentation centre so this does not happen again,” he said.

On Friday, the International Court of Justice decided that Singapore had ownership of Pulau Batu Puteh while Malaysia had sovereignty over Middle Rocks which lies to the south.

Ambassador-at-large Tan Sri Abdul Kadir Mohamad had voiced his frustration over his failure to find a letter said to be from the British governor in Butterworth to the Johor Temenggong seeking permission to build the Horsburgh Lighthouse on the island.

Dr Puad said as a Johorean, he felt very disappointed by the decision, urging the Government not to continue “bowing” to Singapore’s pressure over certain unresolved issues such as the Central Provident Fund contributions, the use of air space and water treaties.

Datin Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail (PKR – Permatang Pauh) said the Government should be careful of referring overlapping territorial claims to the ICJ.

“The decision is most often not based on justice but on the current world political climate. Let this be a lesson to us,” she said.

Mahfuz Omar (PAS – Pokok Sena) said the Attorney-General’s chambers should have done its research properly before laying their case before the ICJ.

“How can this be a win-win situation for us? How does this guarantee the safety of our fishermen?” he said.

Hamim Samuri (BN – Ledang) said the Government should be more wary of Singapore’s actions in the future.

In his reply, Deputy Finance Minister Datuk Ahmad Husni Hanadzlah said the Government had indeed learnt its lesson from the Pulau Batu Puteh incident and had started monitoring activities on islands in its waters.

“The National Archives Department has also set up a special unit to collect our historical documents. However, it depends on government agencies to provide it with these documents,” he pointed out.

The motion, which was to re-disburse a total of RM1.12bil allocation meant for the defunct Internal Security Ministry and the Unity Department under the Prime Minister’s Department, was passed - The Star

Ambil iktibar keputusan kes Batu Puteh: TPM

Oleh Magendran Rajagopal dan Srihanasham Noordin

KUALA LUMPUR: Semua agensi kerajaan perlu menjadikan keputusan Mahkamah Keadilan Antarabangsa (ICJ) memberi Singapura hak kedaulatan ke atas Batu Puteh minggu lalu sebagai pengajaran dan memastikan Malaysia tidak lagi kehilangan mana-mana kawasan miliknya pada masa depan.

Timbalan Perdana Menteri, Datuk Seri Najib Razak, berkata pihak bertanggungjawab harus mengambil iktibar daripada kehilangan Batu Puteh dan bertindak proaktif bagi memastikan kedaulatan negara tidak lagi terhakis dengan apa cara sekalipun pada masa depan.

"Apa yang berlaku di Batu Puteh adalah kerana kealpaan dan apa yang tidak kita lakukan bagi mempertahankannya selama ini.

"Kini menjadi tanggungjawab semua agensi kerajaan memastikan kejadian seumpama ini tidak berulang dan kedaulatan kita tidak dicabar," katanya dalam sidang media selepas mengadakan perjumpaan dengan kem komandan Pusat Latihan Khidmat Negara (PLKN), di sini semalam.

Penghakiman ICJ Jumaat lalu memberikan Singapura hak kedaulatan terhadap Batu Puteh dan Malaysia sebagai pemilik Batuan Tengah manakala kedudukan terumbu karang ketiga yang dikenali Tubir Selatan tidak ditentukan oleh ICJ.

Sehubungan itu, orang ramai yang menyuarakan kebimbangan akan ada pulau lain yang selama ini dianggap milik negara akan menerima nasib sama seperti Batu Puteh, umpamanya Pulau Pisang dan Pulau Merambong di Johor.

Penyelidik kanan Institut Maritim Malaysia (MIMA), Kapten Rakish Suppiah, berkata negara mungkin kehilangan kira-kira 100 pulau, batuan serta struktur-struktur maritim yang lain jika tiada tindakan diambil untuk mengesahkan kedaulatannya.

"Kita perlu sentiasa memantau dan melakukan rondaan di kawasan ini bagi memastikan tiada negara lain cuba mendirikan apa-apa struktur atau menjalankan sebarang kegiatan dan menjadikannya asas untuk menuntut hak di masa depan," katanya ketika dihubungi semalam.

Setakat ini, negara mempunyai lima pulau dengan keluasan melebihi 200 kilometer (km) persegi, 68 pulau di bawah 200 km persegi yang mempunyai penempatan manusia, empat pulau yang ditakrif taman laut atau kawasan perlindungan marin.

Selain itu, ratusan lagi terumbu karang atau pulau kecil yang tidak berpenghuni belum ditentukan milik siapa kerana sempadan perairan tidak jelas atau terletak dalam kawasan perairan antarabangsa - Berita Harian

Bumburing: Act fast to solve illegal immigrant issue

THE GOVERNMENT must quickly solve the problem of illegal Filipino immigrants in Sabah especially in the light of a challenge made by the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) to contest the ownership of Sabah in the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

Datuk Wilfred Bumburing (BN-Tuaran), said with so much focus on the Batu Puteh case in the ICJ, it would be wise for the Government to be seen to be doing something about the problem in Sabah.

“If we are not careful, we will lose a much bigger piece of land than Batu Puteh or the Middle Rocks,” he said when responding to Ibrahim Ali’s (Ind-Pasir Mas) comments about the ICJ’s recent decision when debating the Supplementary Supply Bill.

“Sabah MPs have raised this problem time and again and the Government must take note of the immigrant issue,” he said, adding that the Philippine’s claim to Sabah is still there.

Bumburing said that Malaysia was still paying the Sultan of Sulu a certain amount of money every year.

Outside the Dewan, Bumburing said some of the immigrants have become entrenched in Sabah, adding that the number of Filipinos in Sabah was unknown.

“This is why we need a Royal Commission of Inquiry,” he said.

Reports in Philippine online news portals quoted Moro leader Nur Misuari as saying on Saturday that the amount of money (about RM5,000) paid by Sabah to the heirs of the Sultan of Sulu was “pittance”.

Misuari said the Sabah issue should be brought to the ICJ for resolution - The Star

Monday, May 26, 2008

Keputusan ICJ kurang jelas: MIMA

Oleh Magendran Rajagopal

Sempadan kawasan perairan perlu dilakar semula, ambil kira pertindihan sempadan

KUALA LUMPUR: Keputusan Mahkamah Keadilan Antarabangsa (ICJ) memberikan hak Batu Puteh kepada Singapura turut merangkumi hak meneroka hasil galian dan sumber mineral asli dalam perairan republik itu.

Ketua Pengarah Institut Maritim Malaysia (MIMA), Datuk Cheah Kong Wai, berkata Undang-Undang Laut menetapkan sempadan perairan membabitkan kawasan sehingga 12 batu nautika atau 22.2 kilometer dari pesisiran pantai atau mana-mana bidang hartanah milik sesebuah negara.

"Berdasarkan perundangan itu, saya secara peribadi amat kecewa dengan keputusan ICJ yang jelas memihak kepada Singapura kerana Malaysia kini seolah-olah tidak mempunyai kedaulatan di perairan berkenaan.

"Keputusan ini seharusnya memberikan penjelasan terperinci mengenai maksud penghakiman itu dari segi hak, kuasa dan sempadan perairan membabitkan kedua-dua negara serta kesannya terhadap pihak yang berkepentingan seperti nelayan selain pengendali pelabuhan.

"Namun, saya menganggap penghakiman memihak kepada Malaysia berhubung kedaulatan Batuan Tengah sebagai keputusan yang saksama kepada kedua-dua pihak,"
katanya ketika dihubungi semalam.

Cheah berkata Tubir Selatan terletak berhampiran Batuan Tengah milik Malaysia dan Batu Puteh milik Singapura, sekali gus mewujudkan pertindihan tuntutan sempadan perairan.

Sehubungan itu, sempadan kawasan perairan perlu dilakar semula dengan mengambil kira pertindihan sempadan.

Pada masa sama, beliau berkata Batu Puteh serta Batuan Tengah turut menghadapi dilema kerana kedudukannya yang berdekatan dan memerlukan sempadan sedia ada dilakar semula dengan memperincikan benteng sempadan masing-masing.

Beliau menganggap keputusan ICJ agak kabur dalam isu terbabit kerana Tubir Selatan hanya kelihatan ketika air surut dan sewajarnya tidak dianggap sebagai sekeping tanah.

Rabu lalu, ejen Singapura, Prof Tommy Koh dipetik sebagai berkata republik itu akan menekankan kebebasan dan keselamatan laluan kapal menjadi kepentingan utama republik itu.

Pada masa sekarang, selain memiliki dan mengendalikan Rumah Api Horsburgh, Singapura memasang Sistem Maklumat Trafik Perkapalan (VTIS) pada menara di Batu Puteh yang menjadi elemen penting bagi menguruskan laluan kapal di perairan berkenaan.

Di bawah Konvensyen Pertubuhan Bangsa-Bangsa Bersatu mengenai Undang-Undang Laut (UNCLOS) yang diiktiraf dan diterima pakai Singapura serta Malaysia, sesebuah negara boleh menuntut hak sempadan sehingga 12 batu nautika daripada pesisiran pantai masing-masing.

Dalam sempadan perairan sendiri, sesebuah negara bebas menentukan undang-undang menetapkan penggunaan dan meneroka atau melombong apa-apa sumber asli.

Bagaimanapun, dari segi trafik perairan pula, kapal bebas menggunakan laluan terbabit dengan percuma tanpa berhenti di mana-mana atau melakukan sebarang tindakan yang boleh menggugat kedaulatan dan keselamatan negara yang berkuasa di perairan berkenaan.

Namun, UNCLOS tidak memberi penakrifan mengenai hak nelayan bagi menggunakan atau memasuki sempadan perairan negara lain, terutama di sekitar Batu Puteh dan Batuan Tengah.

Berikutan itu, Malaysia dan Singapura masih perlu berunding mengenai isu sempadan, tidak kira apa penghakiman ICJ, kerana kedudukan kedua-dua negara yang begitu hampir menyebabkan banyak pertindihan sempadan - Berita Harian

Malaysia pecah monopoli Singapura

Oleh Khirul Bahri Basaruddin

Keputusan ICJ beri hak kedaulatan Batuan Tengah jejas perancangan Kota Singa

RAMAI kecewa dan sedih apabila Mahkamah Keadilan Antarabangsa (ICJ) memutuskan Batu Puteh menjadi milik Singapura. Kita hanya berasa sedikit kelegaan apabila kedaulatan Batuan Tengah diberikan kepada Malaysia serta Tubir Selatan akan ditentukan mengikut persempadanan perairan negara yang menguasainya.

Dilaporkan, lebih 2,000 nelayan terutama berpusat di Pengerang kecewa dengan keputusan itu apabila mereka didakwa tidak boleh lagi menangkap ikan di kawasan perairan itu yang difahamkan mempunyai banyak khazanah laut yang belum diterokai.

Kekecewaan mereka itu tidak boleh dinafikan kerana selama ini tumpuan kes tuntutan itu lebih kepada hak kedaulatan Batu Puteh yang menempatkan Rumah Api Horsburgh sejak 1850 dan amat sedikit disentuh mengenai Batuan Tengah serta Tubir Selatan.

Batuan Tengah dan Tubir Selatan, iaitu bentuk bumi maritim secara geologi tidak bersambung dengan Batu Puteh. Batuan Tengah dipisahkan dari Batu Puteh oleh saluran kira-kira 0.6 batu nautikal, manakala Tubir Selatan kira-kira 2.2 batu nautikal daripada pulau berkenaan serta masing-masing kira-kira 8 serta 7.9 batu nautikal dari tanah besar Malaysia.

Kawasan Batuan Tengah mengandungi batu yang secara tetap berada di atas paras air laut serta mempunyai ketinggian kira-kira 0.6 hingga 1.2 meter, manakala Tubir Selatan dapat dilihat melalui proses air pasang surut.

Bagaimanapun, penghakiman setebal 81 halaman itu memberi kesan positif kepada Malaysia yang sebenarnya mendapat manfaat lebih dari Singapura yang kehilangan status qou, terutama membabitkan Batuan Tengah.

Selain itu, jika kita berpegang kepada Konvensyen Undang-Undang Laut Pertubuhan Bangsa-Bangsa Bersatu (UNCLOS), Tubir Selatan berada dalam genggaman Malaysia berpandukan persempadanan maritim kira-kira 12 batu nautikal, di mana jarak bentuk muka bumi maritim itu kira-kira 0.6 batu nautikal dari Batuan Tengah.

Keputusan memberi hak kedaulatan Batuan Tengah kepada Malaysia dapat dilihat memecah monopoli Singapura di kawasan perairan berkenaan kerana kini republik itu mempunyai jiran yang dipisahkan kira-kira 0.6 batu nautikal saja.

Malah, jika dilihat reaksi delegasi Singapura diketuai Ejen Prof Tommy Koh ketika keputusan diumumkan negara itu tidak mendapat semua tuntutan dapat menggambarkan mereka tidak gembira kehilangan dua bentuk muka bumi maritim itu.

Singapura mungkin boleh mendabik dada kini mereka memiliki sepenuhnya Batu Puteh, tetapi pada masa sama terpaksa menelan kepahitan kerana segala perancangan untuk menjadi jaguh di kawasan perairan itu terbantut serta perlu berfikir dua kali sebelum melakukan sesuatu ke atas kawasan perairan bersempadan Batuan Tengah.

Malaysia menerusi ejennya, Tan Sri Abdul Kadir Mohamad pernah menyuarakan kebimbangan berhubung tindak-tanduk Singapura di kawasan Batu Puteh serta rancangan negara itu untuk menjadi sebuah wilayah maritim yang berpengaruh berdasarkan kepada kehadirannya di Batu Puteh sebagai pengendali rumah api.

Kehadiran republik itu di Batu Puteh hanya sebagai pengendali rumah api dan tidak pernah timbul isu berhubung wilayah perairan atau pelantar laut di sekeliling pulau itu. Bagaimanapun, republik berkenaan mempunyai dasar aktif berhubung penambakan laut dan dalam tuntutan bertulis ada dinyatakan cadangan menambak laut sekeliling pulau berkenaan. Melalui dokumen dalaman iaitu Laporan Penilaian Tender 1978 ditunjukkan cadangan pulau buatan manusia seluas 5,000 meter padu hampir dengan Batuan Tengah.

Kita tahu Singapura tidak memerlukan pulau besar untuk mengendalikan rumah api, tetapi kenapa negara mempunyai rancangan untuk membesarkan kawasan itu melalui proses penambakan. Jika diteruskan, ia mungkin merosakkan keadaan alam semula jadi serta sistem pelayaran di situ. Lebih menakutkan tindakan itu boleh menjejaskan persetujuan keselamatan yang di kawasan perairan pintu masuk di timur Selat Singapura.

Malaysia pernah membawa kes penambakan laut dengan Singapura di Tribunal Antarabangsa Mengenai Undang-Undang Laut (ITLOS) dan perkara itu dalam pengetahuan ICJ.

Dalam pada itu, untuk menguatkan cengkaman ke atas Batu Puteh, Singapura secara agresif menunjukkan penguasaan negara itu menerusi beberapa tindakan antaranya, pada 1986, iaitu tarikh pertikaian berhubung tuntutan Batu Puteh, Singapura menghantar kapal perang di kawasan itu untuk membuat rondaan 24 jam sehingga hari ini.

Tindakan itu menimbul kegelisahan dan berbahaya, nelayan dari Malaysia yang sudah beratus-ratus tahun menangkap ikan serta berteduh di situ dihalau pasukan keselamatan negara itu.

Tentera Malaysia dan kapal perangnya tidak boleh lagi pergi ke kawasan berdekatan perairan itu kerana pasukan tentera negara itu akan bertindak menghalang. Pada 1977, republik berkenaan memasang peralatan komunikasi tentera di pulau itu, sekali gus melanggar persetujuan awal berhubung pembinaan dan operasi rumah api.

Kini, kebimbangan Malaysia itu seolah-olah difahami panel hakim ICJ yang membuat penghakiman secara adil membahagikan kawasan perairan kepada dua negara jiran Asean itu. Jika mahkamah memutuskan memberi semua tuntutan Singapura, kita tidak tahu apa yang akan berlaku di kawasan perairan itu, kita tidak hairan akan wujud gugusan pulau baru di situ.

Difahamkan, Singapura mempunyai rancangan menjadikan kawasan berkenaan sebagai markas tentera yang boleh menempatkan kapal selamnya.

Semua rancangan yang diatur di kawasan pulau itu kini tidak boleh dilaksanakan tanpa mengambil kira kepentingan Malaysia sebagai jiran baru berdaulat. Kehadiran Malaysia di situ diiktiraf ICJ sebagai pewaris Kesultanan Johor sejak lebih 150 tahun lalu. Jika Singapura mendakwa ia menggunakan haknya untuk melaksanakan pelbagai rancangan di kawasan pulau itu, Malaysia juga boleh berbuat demikian.

Jika negara itu bercadang menambak kawasan laut, kita juga boleh berbuat demikian, bila mereka membina menara, kita juga boleh bina menara dan pelbagai kemudahan lain.

Bagaimanapun, Malaysia sejak dulu lagi dan Abdul Kadir sendiri pernah membuat kenyataan terbuka di depan hakim ICJ bahawa negara ini mengamalkan dasar berbaik-baik dengan negara jiran dalam menyelesaikan pelbagai isu.

Kita mahu republik itu menggunakan pendekatan sama dan menjadikan kawasan itu bebas daripada kegiatan ketenteraan. Kita mahu kawasan itu dijadikan kawasan penyelidikan kedua-dua negara dan tidak salah membina menara kaji cuaca atau sistem tsunami, selain menara untuk kegiatan ketenteraan.

Keputusan mahkamah itu banyak menyedarkan Singapura bahawa kini negara itu tidak boleh lagi bertindak sesuka hati ke atas kawasan terbabit, malah republik itu perlu berhati-hati dengan setiap tindak tanduknya kerana mereka sebelum ini pernah memberitahu mahkamah bahawa negara itu menghormati undang-undang antarabangsa.

Sehubungan itu, apabila mahkamah memberi keputusan undi 15-1 Malaysia mempunyai hak kedaulatan ke atas Batuan Tengah, manakala undi 12-4, Singapura memiliki Batu Puteh, kita sebenarnya bukan berada di tempat orang yang kalah.

Jika dulu lebih 150 tahun, kita tidak boleh menjejak kaki di kawasan pertikaian itu, kini kita boleh menegakkan dengan megah tiang serta mengibarkan Jalur Gemilang. Nelayan Pengerang tidak perlu kecewa lagi kerana kini mereka boleh melebarkan jaring untuk menangkap ikan di kawasan perairan itu.

Kita tidak kalah kerana apabila kita membawa kes mahkamah secara moralnya kita sudah menang 50 peratus dan hasilnya sudah diketahui ramai. Kita perlu memberi tumpuan kepada Batuan Tengah dan Tubir Selatan, pada masa sama melupakan Batu Puteh kerana ia sah bergelar Pedra Branca - Berita Harian

Diplomat aka spy Singapura peka cari maklumat

MALAYSIA dan Singapura mendapat pujian daripada masyarakat antarabangsa kerana menghormati keputusan Mahkamah Keadilan Antarabangsa (ICJ) mengenai isu tuntutan bertindih Batu Puteh pada 23 Mei 2008.

Tiada kejadian yang tidak diingini berlaku di antara rakyat kedua-dua negara.

Namun, kita berasa kecewa dan kesal ICJ memutuskan Batu Puteh adalah hak Singapura. Sikap 'tidak apa' dan berbaik hati negara diambil kesempatan Singapura untuk memiliki Batu Puteh.

Pengalaman saya yang singkat di Kementerian Luar berurusan dengan Singapura menunjukkan bahawa kita tidak boleh terlalu berlembut dengan negara jiran itu. Hal ini kerana:

  • Wujud mentaliti kepungan - mereka hidup dalam keadaan tertekan di kelilingi negara Melayu.

  • Sebagai republik pulau, mereka akan sentiasa mencari kawasan, pulau dan terumbu yang tiada penghuni untuk disewa atau dimiliki.

  • Pemimpin mereka tegas dan berpandangan jauh menentukan 'survival' negara.

  • Diplomat yang bertugas adalah terbaik dan terlatih.

  • Tidak teragak-agak menggunakan kekerasan.

Saya masih ingat bagaimana pada satu majlis beberapa diplomat Singapura secara bersahaja bertanya: "Bagaimana kedudukan Pedra Branca? Lantas saya menjawab secara berseloroh: "...maksud kamu Pedra Branca itu ialah wanita Portugis ke? Dan kami semua ketawa.

Moral cerita ini menunjukkan diplomat Singapura tidak membuang masa dalam apa keadaan pun. Mereka dilatih untuk mencari maklumat demi kepentingan negara mereka.

Semoga peristiwa ini membuka mata kepada pemimpin kita dan agensi kerajaan yang berkenaan agar lebih peka dan serius dalam menjaga kedaulatan dan maruah negara dalam hubungan dengan negara jiran, khususnya Singapura.

Gombak, Selangor.

Wisma Putra kena sedia terima penyelidik

SELEPAS Mahkamah Keadilan Antarabangsa (ICJ) membuat keputusan mengenai status Batu Puteh/Pedra Branca yang menjadi rebutan Malaysia-Singapura sejak 29 tahun lalu, kita harus memandang ke hadapan untuk melihat isu Pulau Pisang dan Kepulauan Spratly pula.

Selain Batu Puteh menjadi hak Singapura, ICJ Jumaat lalu juga memutuskan Middle Rock (Batuan Tengah) diberikan kedaulatan kepada Malaysia, manakala status South Ledge belum diputuskan.

Keputusan berkait isu Batu Puteh ini yang memihak kepada Singapura memberikan banyak iktibar kepada Malaysia, terutama apabila memperkatakan mengenai soal kedaulatan.

Keadaan ini dilihat lebih kritikal kerana Malaysia mempunyai sempadan daratan dan maritim dengan beberapa negara lain yang dilihat mampu membawa kepada masalah jika tidak diselesaikan dengan berhemah dan memerlukan tindakan segera.

Kejayaan Malaysia mendapatkan Pulau Sipadan dan Ligitan beberapa tahun lalu seolah-olah menjadikan kita leka dengan isu yang bersabit dengan pertindihan wilayah yang menghantui negara kita selama ini.

Malah, selepas mendapatkan kedua-dua pulau itu, negara dikejutkan lagi dengan isu pertindihan wilayah yang berlaku di Ambalat antara Malaysia dan Indonesia sekitar 2005.

Di samping itu, kita juga tidak seharusnya terlepas pandang dengan isu pertindihan wilayah yang masih berlaku sehingga hari ini.

Malah, dalam beberapa keadaan didapati bahawa isu ini jika tidak ditangani segera akan memberikan kerugian besar kepada negara, lebih-lebih lagi apabila memperkatakan soal kedaulatan, keuntungan ekonomi terutama sumber dan sebagainya.

Satu daripada isu utama pertindihan wilayah ini yang sudah berlarutan adalah isu di Kepulauan Spratly yang membabitkan beberapa negara lain termasuk China, Vietnam dan Filipina.

Di samping itu, isu berkait Pulau Pisang turut perlu diketengahkan kerana jika silap percaturan dan tidak ada sebarang langkah awal diambil, ia juga mungkin boleh jatuh kepada Singapura.

Bukan setakat itu saja, malah banyak lagi isu yang perlu dilihat dengan serius oleh kerajaan berkaitan dengan pertindihan wilayah ini, misalnya isu Limbang yang turut dituntut kerajaan Brunei Darussalam.

Beberapa pendekatan perlu diambil kerajaan. Antaranya usaha mengumpulkan semua maklumat berkait dengan pulau atau wilayah yang dilihat 'bermasalah' ini. Penumpuan harus difokuskan kepada data dan sumber, sama ada yang berada di Malaysia atau di luar negara, terutama di London, Belanda dan India.

Bukan setakat itu, beberapa kajian perlu dibuat penyelidik, ahli akademik dan pelajar di negara ini perlu diberikan perhatian segera. Hal ini kerana tesis yang dikaji dan ditulis mengenai pulau dan wilayah ini boleh diperoleh di perpustakaan di negara ini .

Di samping itu, Wisma Putra patut mengubah sikap terhadap ahli akademik, penyelidik dan pelajar yang seolah-olah dilihat sebagai cabaran selama ini.

Hal ini cukup bertentangan dengan kaedah yang dilaksanakan White House di Amerika Syarikat yang memberikan layanan kepada ahli akademik, khususnya dalam bidang hubungan antarabangsa dan bidang berkaitan dalam menasihati pemimpin Amerika Syarikat berhubung sebarang isu antarabangsa, apatah lagi yang ada kaitan dengan kepentingan nasional.

Sebaliknya sikap Wisma Putra misalnya yang tidak memberikan kerjasama penuh jika ada ahli akademik, penyelidik atau pelajar yang mahu membuat kajian mengenai isu seperti ini atau sebarang isu yang berkait dengan dasar luar.

Hal ini sudah tentu sangat dikesali kerana Wisma Putra patut memberikan galakan kepada mereka untuk membuat kajian mengenai dasar luar Malaysia kerana dengan adanya kajian yang dilakukan akan membolehkan input mengenai sesuatu isu yang diperlukan terutama yang berkaitan dengan kepentingan nasional kita.

Jabatan Hubungan Antarabangsa, UMS, Kota Kinabalu.

Stay Away From Middle Rocks For A While - Najib

PUTRAJAYA, May 25 - Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak Sunday advised Malaysians to stay away from Middle Rocks for a while until further advice from the government.

He said the country's technical committee was still preparing the recommendations, following the International Court of Justice ruling on Friday that Malaysia had sovereignty over Middle Rocks and the recommendations were expected to be ready in two weeks' time.

"The best thing is, wait for the technical committee to come up with its recommendations and then we will advise accordingly.

"Otherwise, there will be some confusion on the ground," he told reporters after launching the national-level Unity Month Celebration at the Putrajaya International Convention Centre here.

Najib was asked to comment on conflicting news reports that local fishermen could now operate freely in the waters off Middle Rocks while another news report advised them to stay away from Middle Rocks for the time being.

The first news report quoted senior lecturer with the Malay World and Civilisation Institute, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia Prof Dr Nik Anuar Nik Mahmud while the second quoted Federal Marine Police Commander Senior Assistant Commissioner II Isa Munir.

Both made their comments, following the ICJ judgement in which 15 judges were in favour of Malaysia while one judge was favour of Singapore for the disputed maritime feature - Bernama

Jauhi sementara Batuan Tengah

PUTRAJAYA 25 Mei - Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak menasihatkan nelayan-nelayan di Johor supaya tidak menjalankan sebarang aktiviti tangkapan ikan di perairan Batuan Tengah (Middle Rocks) dalam tempoh dua minggu ini.

Timbalan Perdana Menteri berkata, mereka perlu menunggu keputusan yang bakal dicapai dalam mesyuarat Jawatankuasa Teknikal Malaysia-Singapura bagi memperincikan kawasan perairan antara Batu Putih dengan Batuan Tengah serta Tubir Selatan (South Ledge).

Beliau berkata, semua pihak perlu menunggu keputusan jawatankuasa kerana ia amat penting bagi mengelakkan keraguan antara Kerajaan Malaysia dan Singapura.

"Langkah yang terbaik, tunggu Jawatankuasa Teknikal memberikan cadangan dan kita akan mengumumkannya nanti. Proses ini tidak akan mengambil masa panjang.

"Menurut Datuk Seri Dr. Rais Yatim (Menteri Luar) ia mengambil masa dalam dua minggu, bila sudah siap Wisma Putra akan buat pengumuman pertengahan Jun nanti," katanya kepada pemberita di sini hari ini.

Terdahulu beliau merasmikan majlis sambutan Bulan Perpaduan Peringkat Kebangsaan anjuran Kementerian Perpaduan, Kebudayaan, Kesenian dan Warisan di Pusat Konvensyen Antarabangsa Putrajaya (PICC) di sini.

Sehubungan itu, Timbalan Perdana Menteri meminta para nelayan supaya menunggu sehingga pengumuman rasmi dikeluarkan oleh pihak kerajaan.

ICJ dalam keputusannya kelmarin, menetapkan kedudukan Tubir Selatan ditentukan menerusi rundingan antara Malaysia dan Singapura bagi menentukan perairan negara mana ia terletak.

Sejak 1986 selepas timbulnya pertikaian ke atas Batu Putih, Singapura telah menghantar kapal tentera lautnya ke situ dan menjalankan rondaan tetap 24 jam di perairan ketiga-tiga bentuk maritim tersebut.

Situasi itu telah mencetuskan ketegangan dan bahaya apabila nelayan-nelayan Johor telah dihalau oleh pasukan peronda laut Singapura daripada perairan tradisional serta tempat pelindungan mereka di sekitar Batu Putih.

Kapal peronda Malaysia serta para pegawai-pegawainya juga tidak boleh mendekati bukan sahaja Batu Putih malah Batuan Tengah dan Tubir Selatan kerana dihalang oleh kapal peronda Singapura.

Semalam, Ejen Bersama, Datuk Noor Farida Ariffin dipetik sebagai berkata, nelayan-nelayan di Johor terutamanya kawasan Pengerang yang dihalang selama 22 tahun daripada mendekati perairan Batuan Tengah, kini bebas menangkap ikan di kawasan terbabit berikutan keputusan ICJ mengekalkan kedaulatan bentuk maritim itu kepada Malaysia.

Menurutnya, Singapura yang sebelum ini bertindak mengawal perairan di Batu Putih, Batuan Tengah dan Tubir Selatan sejak tahun 1986, tidak lagi mempunyai kebebasan untuk berbuat demikian kerana bidang kuasa mereka kini terhad kepada Batu Putih semata-mata - Utusan Malaysia

Nelayan boleh ke Batuan Tengah mulai Jun: Najib

Oleh Azrina Ahzan dan Johan Afandi

PUTRAJAYA: Nelayan tempatan dijangka boleh mula menangkap ikan di perairan Batuan Tengah yang dipercayai kaya dengan hasil maritim, selepas Jawatankuasa Teknikal Malaysia-Singapura mengeluarkan garis panduan rasmi mengenai kegiatan itu, pertengahan bulan depan.

Timbalan Perdana Menteri, Datuk Seri Najib Razak, berkata perkara itu penting untuk mengelak timbul masalah dengan Singapura jika nelayan tempatan menangkap ikan di perairan itu selepas ia disahkan menjadi milik Malaysia oleh Mahkamah Keadilan Antarabangsa (ICJ) Jumaat lalu.

Katanya, walaupun ICJ sudah mengesahkan perairan Batuan Tengah adalah milik Malaysia, nelayan tempatan dinasihatkan menunggu keputusan dan cadangan jawatankuasa teknikal itu bagi mengelak timbul sebarang salah faham.

"Ia tidak akan mengambil masa lama kerana saya difahamkan mereka memerlukan hanya dua minggu lagi dan Kementerian Luar dijangka membuat pengumuman mengenainya pertengahan bulan depan," katanya selepas melancarkan majlis sambutan Bulan Perpaduan Peringkat Kebangsaan 2008, di sini, semalam.

Najib mengulas kenyataan beberapa pihak berhubung keputusan ICJ menyerahkan hak kedaulatan Batuan Tengah kepada Malaysia, sekali gus membolehkan nelayan Malaysia menangkap ikan di perairan itu tanpa bimbang diganggu pihak berkuasa Singapura.

Ejen Bersama Malaysia dalam isu tuntutan Batu Puteh, Datuk Noor Farida Ariffin, berkata kini tidak timbul halangan untuk rakyat Malaysia pergi ke kawasan perairan Batuan Tengah yang tidak sampai satu kilometer dari Batu Puteh untuk mencari rezeki atau membuat penyelidikan.

Noor Farida yang juga bekas Duta Malaysia ke Belanda berkata, kapal Tentera Laut Diraja Malaysia (TLDM) dan Tentera Udara Diraja Malaysia (TUDM) serta agensi penguat kuasa maritim lain juga boleh meronda di perairan berkenaan yang dipercayai kaya dengan khazanah laut.

Sementara itu, Menteri Dalam Negeri, Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar, berkata kerajaan belum bercadang menghantar agensi penguat kuasa mengawasi perairan Batuan Tengah walaupun ia sudah sah milik negara kerana tidak mahu disifatkan cuba bertindak agresif di kawasan berkenaan.

Kementerian itu berpendapat adalah lebih baik untuk kerajaan kedua-dua negara menunggu keputusan jawatankuasa teknikal bagi menyelesaikan perkara berbangkit seperti sempadan maritim Malaysia dan Singapura di perairan itu.

"Tidak elok untuk kita menimbulkan sebarang tindakan yang boleh disifatkan agresif dengan menghantar kapal agensi penguat kuasa meronda walaupun jelas Batuan Tengah milik kita kerana Malaysia serta Singapura perlu bekerjasama," katanya di Kota Tinggi, semalam.

Syed Hamid berkata, rakyat tempatan terutama nelayan dinasihatkan menunggu garis panduan jawatankuasa teknikal mengenai isu itu sebelum pergi ke sana walaupun ICJ sudah memutuskan Malaysia berhak ke atas Batuan Tengah.

"Jawatankuasa berkenaan perlu berbincang dan menterjemahkan keputusan ICJ itu dengan mendalam bagi mengelak sebarang perselisihan faham dan tiada keputusan unilateral boleh diambil kedua-dua negara tanpa perbincangan.

"Adalah lebih baik jawatankuasa berkenaan memulakan perbincangan untuk memastikan keselamatan maritim di kawasan Batuan Tengah dan Batu Puteh dengan mengambil kira konsep 'Eye in the Sky', yang digunakan bagi mengawasi Selat Melaka," katanya.

Beliau berkata, walaupun Batuan Tengah dan Batu Puteh berkait rapat dengan keselamatan dua negara di perairan berkenaan, faktor jarak yang terlalu hampir antara kedua-duanya menyebabkan kerajaan Malaysia dan Singapura tidak boleh bertindak sendirian.

Selain itu, kedua-dua negara juga perlu menyelesaikan segera isu berhubung kedudukan Tubir Selatan kerana terumbu itu akan tenggelam apabila air pasang dan hanya kelihatan ketika air surut.

"Singapura mahu ketiga-tiga kawasan itu tetapi ICJ menolaknya. Kesannya, Singapura kini tidak lagi sendirian di perairan itu selepas hampir tiga dekad tidak membenarkan Malaysia menghampirinya kerana kita juga sudah diberikan hak berkenaan," katanya.

Sementara itu, polis marin meminta nelayan Malaysia supaya tidak mengunjungi perairan Batuan Tengah sehingga keputusan rasmi mengenainya diumumkan kerajaan, bagi mengelakkan salah faham dengan pihak berkuasa Singapura - Berita Harian

Call for joint maritime patrols

JOHOR BARU: Maritime patrols around Pedra Branca and Middle Rocks should be conducted jointly with Singapore as the two features were close to each other, Home Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar said.

Details of the security arrangement will be worked out by the technical committee set up to study the implications of the International Court of Justice's decision, which ruled that Pedra Branca belonged to Singapore while Malaysia had sovereignty over Middle Rocks.

Syed Hamid said Malaysia would not adopt an aggressive posture by cordoning off the area around Middle Rocks.

"Though Singapore got Batu Puteh, Middle Rocks belongs to us and our fishermen and vessels should not be hindered from going to the area.

"The technical committee must sit down and figure out the security arrangement and navigation in the area," Syed Hamid said.
Following the decision by the court on Friday, the government said a bilateral technical committee would be formed to draw up the two countries' maritime borders around Pedra Branca and Middle Rocks.

The committee would also determine which country possessed South Ledge, an outcropping southwest of Pedra Branca and Middle Rocks that is only visible at low tide - NST

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Pulau Batu Puteh decision: Fishermen can access Middle Rocks

By V. Anbalagan from the The Hague

MALAYSIAN fishermen can now operate freely in the waters off Middle Rocks following the International Court of Justice's ruling, which awarded the uninhabited outcropping to Malaysia, an academician said.

Pulau Batu Puteh is a granite island 137m long, with an average width of 60m and covering 8,560 sq metres at low tide. It is situated at the eastern entrance of the Straits of Singapore. It lies 25.5 nautical miles to the east of Singapore, 7.7 nautical miles to the south of Johor and 7.6 nautical miles to the north of the Indonesian island of Bintan. The Horsburgh lighthouse in Pulau Batu Puteh was built in 1851. Middle Rocks and South Ledge are the two maritime features closest to Pulau Batu Puteh. Middle Rocks is located 0.6 nautical miles to the south and consists of two small rocks about 250 metres apart that are above water and stand 0.6m to 1.2m high. South Ledge, at 2.2 nautical miles to the southwest of Pulau Batu Puteh, is a rock formation only visible at low tide.

Professor Dr Nik Anuar Nik Mahmud, senior lecturer with The Malay World and Civilisation Institute, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, said the navy and marine police could patrol the area without hindrance.

He said the air force would also have access to the airspace.

"We have been denied entry to that locality since 1986 after Singapore took control of Pulau Batu Puteh (PBP) and the two maritime features. The republic has lost that exclusivity now," he told Malaysian journalists.

Nik Anuar was one of the researchers who assisted the Malaysian legal team to prepare its case before the ICJ.
The dispute over PBP started in 1980 when Malaysia published a map with the island lying within its territory.

In 1993, Singapore extended its claim to PBP by including two clusters of rocks nearby, Middle Rocks and South Ledge, after both nations failed to resolve the issue through bilateral means.

On Friday, the ICJ, in a 12-4 majority ruling, held that sovereignty over the island belonged to Singapore.

In a 15-1 majority ruling, the court held that Malaysia had ownership of Middle Rocks.

The court, in a 15-1 majority ruling, also stated that sovereignty over South Ledge belonged to the "state in the territorial waters of which it is located".

South Ledge is a rock formation only visible at low tide.

The court said it could not decide on the status of South Ledge because Malaysia and Singapore had only asked it to arbitrate on the matter of sovereignty separately for each of the three maritime features.

"The court observes that it has not been mandated by the parties to draw the line of delimitation with respect to the territorial waters of Malaysia and Singapore in the area in question," it said.

Nik Anuar said a careful reading of the judgment would imply that sovereignty over South Ledge also belonged to Malaysia. This was because South Ledge is only 1.7 nautical miles south of Middle Rocks.

"It is within the internationally held 12 nautical miles radius limitation to be part of Malaysian territorial waters."

Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Rais Yatim said it would appear that Malaysia would have sovereignty over South Ledge.

Co-agent and former Malaysian ambassador to the Netherlands Datuk Noor Farida Ariffin said the ruling had contained Singapore from undertaking any activities unilaterally.

"She has a neighbour now because the court has recognised that Malaysia has sovereignty over Middle Rocks."

She expressed hope both nations could resolve the outstanding issues.

During the oral hearing last November, Malaysia's agent, Tan Sri Abdul Kadir Mohamad, said Singapore wanted to redefine her status from being a mere "lighthouse operator" by claiming sovereignty over PBP and the two maritime features.

The ruling by the ICJ affirmed Malaysia's stand that the Johor sultanate had the undisputed title over PBP and the surrounding areas from time immemorial - NST

'People sad but accept ruling'

KUALA LUMPUR: Singapore has to ensure that the people of Malaysia, especially fishermen, will not be adversely affected by the ruling awarding Pulau Batu Puteh to the republic, Umno vice-president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said yesterday.

He said while the people of Johor were saddened by the decision, Malaysians had to accept the court's decision.

Muhyiddin distanced himself from the statement by Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim that the court had given a "win-win" ruling.

"We lost it (Pulau Batu Puteh). I will not say it is a win-win situation," he said after a closed-door briefing with Umno members on the party's ethics.

Muhyiddin disagreed with those who blamed the past administration for the loss. "We are collectively responsible."

Asked whether the party's constitution should be amended to prevent members from demanding a leader to step down, he said such a move would be seen as undemocratic.

He said every member had the right to voice his views.

"We are a democratic party. It is a matter of how and the kind of language used when they express their views."

On the possibility of mass resignations from the party, Muhyiddin said he believed that 99.99 per cent of Umno members would remain in the party because they had faith in Umno fighting for Malay rights and Islam.

He urged members to behave in accordance with the ethics set by the party.

"We are under the scrutiny of the Malays as well as the non-Malays. We must behave properly and ensure our actions do not tarnish the party's image."

Johor wants maritime boundaries drawn up fast

JOHOR BARU: Now that the legal dispute over Pulau Batu Puteh has been settled, the state government wants clear maritime boundaries to be drawn around the island and the Middle Rocks.

Menteri Besar Datuk Abdul Ghani Othman urged the technical committee studying the implications of the International Court of Justice ruling to swiftly convene a meeting and set the boundaries.

The ICJ has ruled that Singapore has sovereignty over Pulau Batu Putih while it gave Malaysia ownership of the Middle Rocks.

"The boundaries are important for fishermen. Many problems with regard to territorial rights can be resolved once the boundaries are drawn," Abdul Ghani said after opening a Massif Design Sdn Bhd showroom here yesterday. The company specialises in landscaping work.

The ICJ ruled that South Ledge will belong to the state in the territorial waters of which it is located.

In George Town, DAP chairman Karpal Singh said the party was disappointed with the decision to award Pulau Batu Puteh to Singapore.

He questioned how Pulau Batu Puteh could be awarded to Singapore when it was much nearer to the tip of Johor compared with Singapore.

Karpal also expressed doubts on whether the government had taken proper legal advice.

"Malaysia should not have been judged by the ICJ unless it was confident of a win. The decision may lead to other disputes of a maritime nature between Malaysia and Singapore."

He also called on the government to compensate the fishing community in Johor Baru affected by the ICJ decision - NST

Doing it the Asean way

By NST Editorial

IT was seen live on television and the official score now, so to speak, is level, with the venerable judges of the International Court of Justice ruling for Singapore in the case of Pulau Batu Puteh, giving Malaysia the Middle Rocks, and the South Ledge to be decided in extra time, which will be played out from now.

The live telecast from The Hague may not have had the worldwide audience that the live telecast from Moscow of the pulsating Champions League final between Manchester United and Chelsea commanded, extra time penalty shoot-out and all.

Nevertheless, the implications of the ICJ ruling could be far reaching for the two nations regarding the customary 12-nautical-mile territorial sea limit and the 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone which involves the question of oil and mineral rights, fishing and right of passage, considering that tiny Pulau Batu Puteh is about 14.3km from Johor and 46.3km from Singapore.

And it gets more complicated with Middle Rocks, the two rocks situated about half a nautical mile south of Pulau Batu Puteh, and 1.7 nautical miles from South Ledge, a low tide elevation, which, according to the ICJ, "belongs to the state in the territorial waters of which it is located", not exactly Solomon's justice, but the court was "not mandated to draw the line of delimitation with respect to the territorial waters of Malaysia and Singapore in the area in question".

And these complicated little bits of territories lie at the eastern entrance of the very busy Straits of Singapore, which provides the deepwater passage to the Port of Singapore. But complicated as it may be, both countries chartered the right course, referring the dispute, which arose in 1980, to the ICJ, whose finding is binding on both countries.

Malaysian Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim declared the decision "a win-win outcome for both sides"; and continued that on South Ledge and other related matters, both countries would set up a committee and future announcements would be made through it.

Singapore's Foreign Ministry said the country would "put this issue behind us and move on to strengthen our bilateral and regional co-operation". This is the Asean way to solving disputes, with respect for international law and a commitment to settling disagreements in an amicable manner, like the way Malaysia and Indonesia went to The Hague over Pulau Ligitan and Pulau Sipadan, with the court ruling in favour of Malaysia in 2002, a decision that was accepted by Indonesia - NST

After The Hague, it's time to move on

By Abdul Ghafur Hamid

IT was a suspenseful time for both Malaysian and Singaporean delegations to the Hague when the International Court of Justice (ICJ) delivered its judgment on Friday. The judgment was not a winner-take-all but a split one, adjudging Pulau Batu Puteh (PBP) to Singapore, Middle Rocks to Malaysia, and South Ledge to the state in the territorial waters of which it is located.

PBP is a small granite rocky island, 137m by 60m (roughly half the size of a football field), which is located 7.7 nautical miles to the south of Johor and approximately 24 nautical miles to the east of Singapore.

The island is called Pulau Batu Puteh (White Rock Island) by Malaysia and Pedra Branca by Singapore.

The dispute arose on Feb 14, 1980, when Singapore protested against the 1979 map published by Malaysia showing PBP as part of Malaysian territory. Singapore claimed the Middle Rocks and South Ledge, two marine features near the island, in February 1993.

After exhausting a few years of bilateral consultations, the two countries submitted their dispute to the ICJ on July 24, 2003.
According to the Malaysian argument, PBP, the two marine features, and other islands in and around Singapore Strait were part of the Johor Sultanate before 1824.

This situation was confirmed by the Crawfurd Treaty of 1824, which ceded to Great Britain the Island of Singapore and all islets and rocks within 10 geographical miles off Singapore, but otherwise left the territory of Johor unaffected.

Therefore, Malaysia primarily invoked the original title over the island and two marine features by the Sultan of Johor from time immemorial. The main Malaysian stand before the ICJ was that PBP was not a no man's land (terra nullius) when the British East India Company constructed the Horsburgh Lighthouse on the island and sought and obtained the permission of the sultan and Temenggong of Johor to build the lighthouse on the island. Malaysia argued that Singapore's presence on the island was merely as lighthouse administrator. Neither Great Britain nor Singapore ever exercised sovereignty over the three features.

The main Singaporean contention was that the island and two marine features were terra nullius when the British constructed the lighthouse. They argued that the construction of the lighthouse and the authorisation of the British Crown constituted a classic taking of possession of a territory as a sovereign.

Title was acquired by the British in accordance with the legal principles governing the acquisition of territory in 1851. The title acquired in 1851 has been maintained by the British and its lawful successor, Singapore, for about 150 years and during such a long period Malaysia did not make any protests apart from the first assertion of sovereignty in 1979.

Singapore, therefore, primarily relied on the taking of possession of a territory not owned by any state and the continuous, peaceful and effective exercise of state authority over it.

From the perspective of international law, this case is a competition between a claim based on original title (Malaysia) and one invoking title by means of taking possession of a terra nullius and "peaceful and continuous exercise of state authority" (Singapore).

Malaysia maintains a track record of peacefully settling differences with neighbouring countries. It is a consistent practice of Malaysia to resort to international dispute resolution only when diplomatic means such as negotiation and consultation are exhausted.

A tremendous effort was made in the preparations for the Pulau Batu Puteh case. The Malaysian legal team was led by Malaysia's Agent Tan Seri Abdul Kadir Mohamad, and Co-Agent Datuk Noor Faridah Ariffin.

Counsel and advocates for Malaysia included the (then) foreign minister of Malaysia, the attorney-general of Malaysia, and eminent international law experts such as professors James Crawford and Sir Elihu Lauterpacht QC from Cambridge University and Professor Nicolaas Jan Schrijver from Leiden University.

Head, deputy head and a strong team of federal counsel from the International Affairs Division of the A-G's Chambers were also part of the team.

The Malaysian legal team established a case that was the result of a thorough research for nearly 30 years, conducted by experts from various ministries and government departments, including academia.

The preparations for the case were the co-ordinated efforts of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the A-G's Chambers, the National Archives of Malaysia, the Department of Survey and Mapping and the Johor government, to mention only a few.

Based on this research, the legal team prepared one of the most compelling arguments to the ICJ, consisting of Written Memorials of 172 pages, Counter Memorials of 306 pages, and Reply of 213 pages, a number of documents and maps, together with oral submissions by counsel.

Now the much awaited judgment has come out. As far as PBP itself is concerned, the ICJ first of all accepted the Malaysian contention and concluded that the Sultanate of Johor had sovereignty over the island by means of original title from time immemorial.

The ICJ, however, found that the following acts and omissions of the parties since 1953 had decisively changed the legal position:

(1) the reply by the acting state secretary of Johor to the Singaporean government that the "Johor Government does not claim ownership of Pedra Branca"; [Refer HERE]

(2) the investigation of shipwrecks by Singapore within the island's territorial waters;

(3) the permission granted or not granted by Singapore to Malaysian officials to survey the waters surrounding the islands; and,

(4) the absence of protest from Malaysia to the flying of the Singapore ensign on the island, the installation of military communications equipment on the island in 1977 and the proposed plans by Singapore to extend the island as well as a few specific publications and maps.

The ICJ concluded that sovereignty over PBP had passed to Singapore due to peaceful and continuous display of sovereign acts on the part of Singapore since 1953 and acquiescence on the part of Malaysia.

Middle Rocks and South Ledge are maritime features located at 0.6 and 2.2 nautical miles respectively from PBP. Middle Rocks consist of some rocks that are permanently above water whereas South Ledge is a low-tide elevation.

In the absence of proof to the effect that the ancient and original title of the Sultan of Johor over Middle Rocks had passed to Singapore like in the case of PBP, the ICJ adjudged that sovereignty over Middle Rocks remained with Malaysia.

Since South Ledge is a low tide elevation and not an island, a specific legal principle applies. A low tide elevation is owned by the state in the territorial waters of which it is located.

South Ledge now falls within the overlapping territorial waters of the main land Malaysia, PBP and Middle Rocks.

The ICJ was not asked by the parties to delimit their territorial waters and as there are overlapping territorial waters in the area, the ICJ left open the question of sovereignty over South Ledge, which is to be determined by the parties themselves in future by delimiting their overlapping territorial waters.

The judgment of the ICJ is based on facts and evidence and in accordance with its consistent jurisprudence.

In any legal case, a party can only prepare the best case for it. Once the judgment has come out, it is the obligation of each party to abide by it no matter what the judgment is if supremacy of law is to be observed.

Since Malaysia owns Middle Rocks, which is only 0.6 nautical miles from PBP, Singapore cannot make any unilateral decision or work to reclaim land around the island.

It is also an urgent need for the two countries to negotiate the delimitation of territorial waters in the area. Now is the time for the two countries to fully co-operate in a spirit of the utmost friendliness.

In any case, let us give credit to those who deserve it - the Malaysian legal team and those who assisted in one way or another in preparing the Malaysian case - for their hard work and a wonderful job done.

Dr Abdul Ghafur Hamid @ Khin Maung Sein is professor of international law at the International Islamic University Malaysia. He may be contacted at

Soal Jawab: Kita terlepas Batu Puteh kerana cuai

PELBAGAI reaksi diberikan banyak pihak selepas Mahkamah Keadilan Antarabangsa (ICJ) di The Hague, Belanda, memutuskan bahawa Singapura mempunyai hak kedaulatan terhadap Pulau Batu Puteh (Pedra Branca), manakala Malaysia berhak terhadap Batuan Tengah (Middle Rocks). Kedudukan Tubir Selatan (South Ledge) pula bergantung kepada persempadanan perairan negara yang menguasainya. Ada pihak melihat keputusan ICJ lebih menyebelahi Singapura dan merugikan Malaysia. Bagaimanapun, ada yang berpendapat negara tidak tewas sepenuhnya. Bagi menilai keputusan di ICJ secara menyeluruh, wartawan Berita Minggu, Ziauddin Sharuddin dan Rohaniza Idris, mendapatkan penjelasan pakar sejarah dari Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM), Prof Dr Nik Anuar Nik Mahmud, yang menganggotai pasukan Malaysia di The Hague dan penganalisis politik, Dr Ahmad Nidzammuddin Sulaiman, juga dari UKM.

Adakah keputusan ICJ berhubung hak kedaulatan Pulau Batu Puteh yang memihak kepada Singapura sudah dijangka berdasarkan bukti dan penghujahan?

Dalam kes Pulau Batu Puteh, saya sudah menjangka kita akan menghadapi masalah untuk mempertahankannya sejak awal lagi.

Pertama sekali kerana ialah kelemahan kita dari segi pentadbiran dan surat Setiausaha Kerajaan Negeri pada 1953. Dari segi sejarah, pulau itu dan pulau lain sebenarnya adalah milik Johor. Mahkamah memperakui hak itu bersandarkan Perjanjian 1819, Mac 1824, Perjanjian Ogos 1824, Perjanjian 1927 dan sebagainya.

Bagaimanapun pada 1953, kerajaan Johor apabila ditanya oleh pihak Singapura mengenai status pulau itu menjawab bahawa pulau itu bukan milik negeri itu. Ini yang menyebabkan mahkamah menjadikan surat itu sebagai hujah untuk mengesahkan bahawa Johor sudah menyerahkan hak kedaulatan pulau itu kepada Singapura.

Adakah penghakiman ini adalah keputusan sama menang atau hanya menguntungkan sebelah pihak?

Keputusan itu adalah sesuatu yang tidak dijangka. Boleh saya katakan bahawa keputusan itu sebagai 'Blessing in Disguise' (perkara baik yang pada awalnya tidak diketahui). Kita kehilangan Pulau Batu Puteh, tetapi menang di Batuan Tengah.

Ia membolehkan nelayan Johor menangkap ikan di kawasan sekitar pulau itu yang sebelum ini adalah kawasan non grata (tidak diterima atau dialu-alukan) kepada nelayan kita.

Apakah faktor penting dalam penghakiman ICJ?

Mahkamah mengiktiraf Pulau Batu Puteh dan semua pulau di sini sebagai milik Johor. Dalam kes Pulau Batu Puteh, kita kalah kerana kecuaian kerajaan Johor dulu yang membiarkan Singapura mengurus rumah api dan pulau itu.

Kemudian pada 1953, tanpa berfikir panjang, Setiausaha Kerajaan Negeri Johor mengesahkan kepada Singapura bahawa Pulau Batu Puteh bukan milik Johor
. Pengesahan itu dibuat secara hitam putih.

Kecuaian ini menyebabkan kita kehilangan pulau itu. Pengajaran penting daripada penghakiman ini kepada setiap pihak ialah belajarlah daripada sejarah. Kita perlu berhati-hati apabila membuat keputusan agar generasi akan datang tidak menanggung kerugian penderitaan.

Siasat betul-betul asal-usul sesuatu perkara dan tidak membuat keputusan dalam keadaan tergesa-gesa.

Prof sebagai sebahagian anggota pasukan Malaysia. Bagaimana situasi di kalangan anggota pasukan selepas ICJ membuat keputusan?

Saya nampak semua anggota delegasi Malaysia gembira dengan keputusan itu. Sebab itu, saya katakan keputusan mahkamah adalah `Blessing in Disguise'.

Apakah kesan penghakiman kes ini terhadap pelbagai aspek membabitkan kedua-dua negara seperti persempadanan?

Seperti saya katakan, keputusan ini adalah kejayaan yang besar ertinya kepada kita. Singapura terpaksa mengakui bahawa kawasan yang dipertikaikan itu juga hak Malaysia. Nelayan kita bebas untuk menangkap ikan di kawasan itu. Dulu nelayan dihalang dan diugut, malah ditangkap.

Sekarang mahkamah membebaskan kepungan itu. Sudah tentu isu sempadan antara Malaysia dan Singapura berikutan keputusan itu akan dikaji oleh Jawatankuasa Teknikal kedua-dua kerajaan.

Adakah sebarang pulau atau wilayah lain yang berpotensi menimbulkan pertikaian hak kedaulatan antara Malaysia dan negara jiran pada masa depan?

Pertikaian di Kepulauan Spratly masih belum selesai. Saya percaya negara yang terbabit dalam pertikaian gugusan pulau ini akan menyelesaikannya secara damai melalui proses undang-undang dan tolak ansur demi kestabilan serantau dan kesejahteraan penduduk di rantau ini.

Apakah merujuk pertikaian membabitkan wilayah atau sempadan ke ICJ adalah suatu perkembangan yang positif atau sebaliknya dalam soal perhubungan antara Malaysia dan negara jiran?

Ini adalah suatu tindakan bijak oleh pemimpin kedua-dua negara untuk mengelakkan berlaku konfrontasi bersenjata yang boleh menjejaskan keselamatan serantau.

Akhir sekali, saya ingin mengucapkan syabas kepada pasukan Malaysia atas kejayaan di ICJ. Kita terlepas Pulau Batu Puteh, tetapi mendapat Batuan Tengah (Middle Rocks). Sesungguhnya keputusan itu suatu 'Blessing in Disguise'.

Apakah kesan penghakiman ICJ yang memberikan Pulau Batu Puteh kepada Singapura dan Batuan Tengah kepada Malaysia, manakala Tubir Selatan kepada negara yang memiliki perairannya kepada hubungan antara Malaysia dan Singapura?

Kesan hubungan antara dua negara adalah tidak ketara. Hubungan Malaysia dan Singapura selama ini pun selalu pasang surut. Ada masa panas dan ada masa sangat harmoni. Isu ini akan termasuk dalam pelbagai isu yang membuatkan hubungan pasang surut itu seperti isu bekalan air, Tabung Simpanan Pekerja (CPF), Jambatan Indah dan Tanjung Pagar.

Bagaimanapun, jika dilihat dari aspek persempadanan negara dan hak perairan, ia sudah tentu sedikit sebanyak kesan yang tidak memihak kepada Malaysia atau kita tidak begitu senang. Pulau Batu Puteh kini menjadi milik Singapura sepenuhnya.

Sempadan perairan keliling pulau itu juga menjadi milik republik itu. Jika membuat penambakan tanah, pulau sebesar dua padang bola boleh menjadi 20 padang bola dan sudah tentu boleh digunakan untuk pelbagai tujuan seperti pangkalan polis marin atau tentera dan sebagainya mengikut kehendak dan kepentingan mereka.

Benarkah keputusan itu adalah sama menang, sedangkan tumpuan utama dalam kes ini ialah Pulau Batu Puteh dan bukan dua pulau lain yang lebih kecil?

Pandangan sama menang dinyatakan oleh Menteri Luar, Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim. Saya fikir kenyataan diplomatik ini mudah difahami kerana beliau mengucapkannya sebagai Menteri Luar dan bukan sebagai Dr Rais Yatim.

Beliau memiliki tanggungjawab moral dan diplomatik serta mewakili rasmi negara ini vis a vis (berdepan secara langsung) rakan sejawat dari Singapura. Bagaimanapun, sudah tentu pandangan ini tidak dapat dikongsi sepenuhnya rakyat Malaysia. Sekurang-kurangnya dari sudut sentimennya.

Pada saya sama menang hanya berlaku jika Malaysia dan Singapura berebut pulau yang tidak menjadi milik mana-mana pihak. Apabila ada dua dan diagih, setiap pihak dapat satu, barulah dianggap sebagai sama menang, tetapi semua tahu bahawa pulau itu milik Malaysia (dulu Johor) dan semua dokumen lengkap, sejarah juga membuktikannya.

Malaysia tidak membuat tuntutan, tetapi berusaha mengekalkan haknya. Singapura kemudian membuat 'tuntutan’ hasil usaha, perbelanjaan, komitmen dan sebagainya yang diberikan terhadap pulau itu selama ini.

Tiba-tiba keputusan memihak kepada Singapura dengan kelebihan ia menguruskan dan mengendalikan pelbagai alat yang ada di pulau itu dan dibenarkan oleh Malaysia. Tuntutannya berjaya. Ini yang menyebabkan saya berpandangan ia bukan keadaan sama menang, tetapi terlepas sebuah pulau milik kita akibat kealpaan sendiri.

Kita lihat juga analogi ini, umpama seorang ibu bapa yang ada banyak anak. Seorang anaknya diberi kepada seorang lain untuk dipelihara walaupun dia menyatakan bukan untuk selama-lama. Apabila sudah sampai satu peringkat umur, penjaga itu membawa ke mahkamah menuntut hak penjagaan kekal terhadap anak itu.

Sudah tentu ia menjadi satu kes yang panas. Ibu bapa asal akan kecewa dan berusaha untuk mengekalkan haknya. Ia memberi semua dokumen bahawa itu adalah anaknya seperti surat kelahiran, laporan hospital, bukti DNA, saksi bidan yang menyambut anaknya dulu dan sebagainya.

Penjaga pula akan memberi bukti seperti dia yang membesarkan anak itu. Surat tadika dan sekolah, kos penjagaan, semua bil yang sudah dijelaskan bagi pemeliharaan, kesihatan dan sebagainya. Mahkamah sudah tentu membuat keputusan demi kepentingan kanak-kanak.

Apa lagi kalau dokumen bapa asal memberi hak penjagaan itu wujud dan dapat ditunjuk di mahkamah. Dalam kes seperti ini, saya berpendapat penjaga itu yang boleh menang. Apa lagi kalau ibu bapa asal ada ramai anak dan tidak terpelihara dengan baik.

Demikianlah kes Pulau Batu Puteh itu, kita ada 10 peta bersejarah pun, ia hanya menjelaskan keadaannya dulu. Sekarang tidak lagi. Ia dipelihara oleh siapa dan komitmen yang ditunjukkan itu nyata dan tidak dapat dipersoalkan.

Malaysia sebagai sebuah negara maritim mempunyai beberapa isu pertindihan tuntutan dengan negara jiran seperti kepulauan Spratly di Laut China Selatan dan perairan Ambalat di Laut Sulawesi. Bagaimana Dr melihat setiap kes tuntutan berkenaan?

Persaingan merebut sumber ekonomi, terutama minyak dan menguasai jalan laut serta ketenteraan.

Dalam kes Spratly, Malaysia memang membuat tuntutan. Saya tidak fikir (pendapat peribadi) kita pernah mendudukinya atau ada kampung lama milik rakyat Malaysia di situ. Cuma kita berasakan kepulauan itu berada dalam zon kita dan berhak membuat tuntutan.

Perairan Ambalat memang seperti berada antara Malaysia dan Indonesia. Ia juga perlu dibawa ke pengadilan. Sudah tentu semua pulau ini penting bagi kita, sekurang-kurangnya dari sudut kedaulatan, maruah dan sempadan kita. Selain itu, dari sudut keluasan sempadan, sumber alam, perikanan dan sebagainya.

Ia menyulitkan apabila kita berdepan jiran tetangga, bukan pihak lain yang asing. Apabila ia juga menjadi tuntutan dengan jiran ini, kita terpaksa menghadapinya. Seharusnya Batu Puteh menjadi pengajaran untuk tuntutan ini. Tidak semestinya bertindak agresif seperti negara lain.

Apakah keputusan penghakiman kes ini akan mendorong Malaysia atau negara lain terus menggunakan pendekatan undang-undang untuk menyelesaikan isu persempadanan?

Malaysia bukan negara yang mengamalkan dasar konfrontasi atau kekerasan. Sejak zaman konfrontasi dengan Indonesia dulu, masalah pengganas komunis di sempadan Thailand, isu Sabah dengan Filipina, Pulau Batu Puteh dan lain-lain, semuanya dilalui dengan cara diplomatik dan perundangan.

Saya percaya Malaysia akan menggunakan cara ini seterusnya kelak. Berdasarkan pengalaman kes Batu Puteh dan Sipadan-Ligitan, saya percaya negara jiran juga akan menggunakan kaedah ini. Cuma cara mendekatinya berbeza.

Ada negara yang bertindak agresif dulu, meletakkan tentera, menghalau rakyat lain mendekatinya dan kemudian baru bersetuju pergi ke Mahkamah Keadilan Antarabangsa. Pendekatan Machiavellian seperti ini nampaknya membuahkan hasil kepadanya dengan penggunaan tenteranya.

Apakah yang mungkin berlaku jika negara yang terbabit dalam tuntutan bertindih tidak memilih pergi ke ICJ?

Jika sesebuah negara kuat dari segi ketenteraan dan mendapat sokongan kuasa besar, negara begini akan mempunyai kelebihan. Negara ini akan mengekalkan dan sanggup bertindak secara ketenteraan sekali gus merugikan negara yang lebih lemah dan enggan bertindak cara ini.

Negara lain akan terus mengecam, menggesa dan mendesak, tetapi sudah tentu ia tidak menyelesaikan masalah. Banyak negara besar yang menguasai pulau kecil menggunakan kekuatan tentera untuk mengekalkan pulau seperti Pulau Falklands.

Di kawasan tuntutan bertindih yang berpotensi memiliki banyak sumber minyak, bolehkah negara yang bersaing bekerjasama?

Idealnya begitulah. Berkongsi usaha dan hasil, tetapi kita tidak hidup dalam dunia yang ideal seperti itu. Apabila berada dalam kedudukan bertindih dan mengetahui sumbernya lumayan, sudah tentu ia direbut oleh pihak yang mendekatinya.

Cuma kerjasama yang diharapkan ialah untuk bersetuju menyelesaikan secara rundingan atau membawa ke pengadilan antarabangsa. Kalau dapat berunding secara aman dan mengambil keputusan secara sama menang, ini adalah lebih baik berbanding ke mahkamah. Belanja pun banyak dapat dijimatkan dan hubungan dua hala dengan negara berkenaan juga terus harmoni - Berita Harian