Malaysia unlikely to sign pact with S'pore this month


  • Nation
  • Wednesday, 01 Jan 2003

By MERGAWATI ZULFAKAR and SIM LEOI LEOI

PUTRAJAYA: Malaysia is unlikely to sign the special agreement with Singapore this month to refer the Pulau Batu Putih dispute to the International Court of Justice as there is no official communication from the republic. 

“There is nothing on the plate so far as the agreement is concerned. 

“We have not received any communication, either official or unofficial. Suddenly they (Singapore) are saying that they are going to sign the agreement with Malaysia in Brussels. I am not even sure whether I am going to be in Brussels or not,” Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar told The Star here yesterday.  

“They (Singapore) are conducting diplomatic relations through the media. All the dates I have suggested for this year (2002) have not been taken up.  

“They should send us back the dates they are interested in through the diplomatic channels or any optional dates back to us,” he added. 

Syed Hamid was commenting on a proposal by Singapore Foreign Minister S. Jayakumar that the special agreement be signed at a multilateral meeting in Brussels this month, where Asean foreign ministers were scheduled to meet their European Union counterparts. 

Jayakumar had also described as “absurd” for Malaysia to allege that Singapore was delaying the signing of the agreement and that it was “ready to do so anytime.” 

Accusing Singapore of playing the “blaming game,” Syed Hamid claimed he was always the first person to approach his Singapore counterpart over the signing of the agreement. 

“They (Singapore) cannot just simply spring a surprise through the newspapers on the signing. They have conducted foreign relations through the newspapers, and then expect us to react. Singapore is putting us in a spot,” he added. 

On the statement by Singapore that the country was prepared to go to the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague over the prolonged water price negotiation, Syed Hamid said the agreements provided for the matter to be resolved in accordance to local laws of Johor and Malaysia. 

“Why should we take a national matter to an international venue? There is no single party which can bring this case up to the PCA,” he said, adding that Singapore was desperate as “they knew that the water issue is a local issue.” 

“This is because our local laws govern the supply of water and the land in which the pipelines run through is in our country. This is within our jurisdiction,” he said. 

Similarly, Syed Hamid said should Singapore disagree with Malaysia's right to review the water price – which the republic had rejected – it could only challenge the matter through local courts. 

“Singapore has always taken the interpretations that suited them, whether it is right or wrong,” he added.  

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