Tuesday, May 27, 2008

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It is our failure to keep proper historical documents that has led us to lose Pulau Batu Puteh - DR PUAD ZARKASHI (BN - BATU PAHAT)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“For instance, on the question of heritage, it is our failure to keep proper historical documents that has led us to lose Pulau Batu Puteh.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

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