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“There were 55 officers involved in researching old maps and historical documents,” he said.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

No comments: