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