JOHOR BARU: The Pulau Batu Puteh issue just would not go away, leaving Johor Mentri Besar Datuk Abdul Ghani Othman to explain to the state assemblymen at the Johor State Assembly Tuesday various issues concerning the case.
One of the issues was on why it was not possible to appeal the decision by the International Court of Justice and reclaim the land.
He said that according to Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim, an appeal may be possible if a letter that was written by the then British Governor William Butterworth in 1844 was found.
“The letter was lost and could not be traced,” he told Ng Lam Hua (DAP-Mengkibol) who wanted to know if an appeal was possible.
He said the inability to locate the letter was the reason the country lost the island to Singapore.
He added that this served as an important lesson that such historical documents should not be taken lightly and should be kept well.
Abdul Ghani also said that Johor owned 73 islands and there were no sovereignty questions about it. He also said that 66 of the islands were named with seven yet to be named.
“An agreement was signed between the British and the then Johor Sultan in 1928 stating that an imaginary line had been drawn along the straits at the sea’s deepest point where the borders between the two countries lay,” he explained.
“That is why Pulau Ubin belongs to Singapore,” he said.
He added that thus Pulau Pisang clearly belonged to Johor even though Singapore has a lighthouse on the island.
He also said that the regular patrols were carried out by the Marine Department to ensure the safety of the islands.
Abdul Ghani was responding to several questions asked by Ja’afar Hashim (BN-Senggarang), Ng See Tiong (BN-Parit Yaani), Datuk Abd Aziz Sapian (BN-Nusajaya), Datuk Tee Siew Kong (BN-Pulai Sebatang), Lau Chin Hoon (Pemanis) and Lim Kee Moi (BN-Yong Peng) on the islands in Johor and their sovereignty.