Wednesday, May 28, 2008

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

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