Saturday, May 24, 2008

Pulau Batu Puteh Issue, Malaysia Praised For Solving It Amicably

KUALA LUMPUR, May 23 - Malaysia has been praised for solving the 28-year-old Pulau Batu Puteh issue peacefully and amicably through the International Court of Justice (ICJ) which today awarded sovereignty over Pulau Batu Puteh to Singapore and the Middle Rocks to Malaysia.

Head of the Department of Political Science, International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM), Assistant Professor Dr Wahabuddin Ra'ees said the decision would help both Malaysia and Singapore to move ahead in solving other outstanding issues between them.

Despite being a country very much larger than Singapore, Malaysia had been sincere from the beginning to solve the issue peacefuly and amicably, he told Bernama in an interview here Friday.

He said that in the larger context of the Asean spirit, Malaysia had once again proved to the world that it always pursued a `very friendly and good neighbourly policy based on mutual respect towards its neighbours and other countries'.

"Eventhough Malaysia deserves a better decision given the historical and geographical facts...I think the judgement should be viewed in a positive way... for future relations...other countries should follow the example of Malaysia and Singapore in solving problems through peaceful means," he said.

University of Malaya senior lecturer, Department of International and Strategic Studies K.S.Balakrishnan said Malaysia-Singapore relations was always a "managed relations" in any situation, although there might be minor problems and differences on and off.

He said the ICJ judgement showed that in this kind of situation, international law took into consideration the adiministration aspect and not history alone in deciding the sovereignty of a disputed area or islands.

"This is like the Sipadan and Ligitan Island issue," he said in reference to the two islands where the ICJ awarded their sovereignty to Malaysia.

The president of the International Movement for a Just World (JUST), Dr Chandra Muzaffar said that it was significant that both sides had agreed even before the case came to hearing to accept whatever the outcome of the case.

"So I hope both will accept the outcome of the ICJ as they said before and with an open heart," he said.

Dr Chandra said that Pulau Batu Puteh was at the heart of the dispute.

"And if one looks at some of the argument put by the ICJ (on Batu Puteh) on strictly legal perspective...those arguments make sense.

"On many instances, we seem to have ceded our sovereign rights by not exercising our sovereignty on Pulau Batu Puteh on numerous occasions," he said.

"I hope that the Singapore government will not regard the decision on Batu Puteh as an opening for them to ride rough shot over Malaysia's sovereign rights on other bilateral issues," said the political scientist - Bernama

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