PEKAN: Malaysia will continue to patrol the waters close to Pulau Batu Puteh although the status of the disputed island has been referred to the International Court of Justice.
Defence Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said Malaysia’s military presence would continue as sovereignty over the island had yet to be decided.
He said the Royal Malaysian Navy would continue patrolling the area over the next three years until the decision from the court favoured Singapore.
Najib said the country had to “look after” its natural resources and therefore it was within Malaysia’s right to patrol the area.
“It is a disputed island. Singapore and Malaysia therefore have the right to patrol and look after it,” Najib told reporters after meeting members of 115 branches under the Pekan Umno division held at Tan Sri Yahya College here yesterday.
Najib said the Government would not make any sudden moves that would jeopardise its interest in the eyes of the court.
“Pending the decision from the court, we have to patrol the area and hope it will not cause a conflict,'' he said.
In Kuala Lumpur, Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar said commercial contracts, including water agreements with Singapore, have no role in restricting Malaysia from amending its legislation to protect its national assets, interests and sovereignty.
“We are looking into drafting domestic laws to protect water and natural resources because there is a need to safeguard important assets of the country.
“It has nothing to do with Singapore, we feel it is timely to come up with long-term plan to protect our national interest through legislation,” he told reporters after appearing in a live interview on Radio Television Malaysia yesterday on the preparation for Non-Aligned Movement Summit.
Syed Hamid said no one had the right to question Malaysia’s sovereignty in exercising its legislative powers even if the amendment had an impact on existing commercial contracts.
“The water agreement with Singapore is a commercial contract based on willing buyer and willing seller. The agreement cannot come into the way of our sovereignty in exercising our rights,” he said.
The idea of enacting law on water and natural resource protection was mooted last year by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim, who proposed the setting up of a committee to study laws in other countries.