Syed Hamid: We’ll study S’pore letter


  • Nation
  • Sunday, 19 Oct 2003

BY MERGAWATI ZULFAKAR AND DEVID RAJAH

PUTRAJAYA: Malaysia will not respond hastily to a letter from Singapore on taking the KTMB land issue to an international court, said Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar. 

“Wisma Putra has received the letter and we will look into it. 

“We will consider at the appropriate time the questions being raised,” he said when contacted yesterday. 

Singapore has said it wanted to resolve the long-standing dispute either by adjudication before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) or by international arbitration at the Permanent Court of Arbitration. 

Its Foreign Minister S. Jayakumar said on Thursday the republic had sent a letter on the matter to Kuala Lumpur on Sept 26 and was awaiting a reply. 

A Points of Agreement was signed in 1990 between the then Singapore Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew and Tun Daim Zainuddin as Finance Minister on the development of KTMB land in Singapore. 

The issue of KTMB land became a controversy when Singapore announced its decision to relocate its Customs, Immigration and Quarantine (CIQ) facilities from Tanjung Pagar to Woodlands on Aug 1, 1998 while the Malaysian authorities maintained their CIQ facilities in Tanjung Pagar. 

Subsequently, the KTMB land matter became one of the issues negotiated as a package between the two countries, which included water supply from Malaysia to Singapore, use of Malaysian airspace by Singapore’s air force, withdrawal of Malaysians’ money from Singapore’s Central Provident Fund and relocation of Malaysia’s CIQ facilities in Singapore. 

Malaysia decided to tackle the issues individually due to failure in negotiations, especially on the review of the price of water.  

The two countries have outstanding issues which have been referred for international arbitration. They are the dispute over the sovereignty of Pulau Batu Putih and the effects of Singapore’s reclamations works in the Straits of Johor. 

Malaysia has also said it is willing to go for arbitration on the water issue.  

Speaking later at a high tea he hosted for newsmen involved in the Organisation of the Islamic Conference Summit, Syed Hamid said not all issues which could not be solved had to be taken to the ICJ. 

He said the republic, which had submitted several notes along with the letter, had claimed that Malaysia wanted the matter referred to the ICJ by using several quotations from the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s speeches and press statements. 

“I feel decisions should be made if they are appropriate and press quotations should not be used,'' he said.  

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