Johor govt to seek legal advice on STS hub

JOHOR BARU: The state government will seek legal advice on the plan to build the world’s biggest ship-to-ship (STS) hub, some 3.5 nautical miles from its shores, says Jimmy Puah.

The State International Trade, Investment and Utilities Committee chairman said this following an article on a portal quoting KA Petra Sdn Bhd executive chairman Datuk Shahrul Amirul as saying that the hub was outside of the state’s territory.

Puah described the statement as “wholly irresponsible” and lacked knowledge and legal background on the issue.

“Two key components of the Territorial Sea Act 2012 are found in Section 3(1), which basically endorse the definition of Territorial Sea as defined by the 1982 Law of the Sea at 12 nautical miles and Section 3(3), which seeks to limit the state jurisdiction to three nautical miles.

“Article 2 of the Federal Constitution stipulates that Parliament may, by law, alter the boundaries to any state, but a law altering the boundaries shall not be passed without the consent of that state in a state legislature and the Conference of Rulers,” he said.

Puah said as far as he was aware, no such motion or enactment was ever passed in the Johor state legislative assembly, nor did it receive any royal assent from the ruler.

“Hence, similar to land jurisdiction, the state water jurisdiction runs parallel with that of Malaysia and shall be 12 nautical miles, in view that Section 3(3) of the Act, is in direct violation of the Constitution unless and until the state approved it under the existing legal mechanism.

“It must also be noted that this is not a novel issue, as previously Sabah, Sarawak and Kelantan have also challenged this part of the Act,” he said.

Puah said land and water jurisdictions were sacrosanct to the state, as enshrined under the Constitution.

State Public Works, Infrastructure and Transportation Committee chairman Mazlan Bujang said they would discuss the state’s sovereign rights and its legal implications on the STS transfer hub next week.

“The state legal adviser will also be present to give his advice to the government,” he said.

“Any decision on the matter will be made by Mentri Besar Datuk Osman Sapian.”

State Housing and Rural Development Committee chairman Dzulkefly Ahmad said the STS transfer hub was a viable project and the state government did not see a problem to accept it but needed more details from the Federal Government.

According to reports, KA Petra and world-renowned Hutchison Ports Holdings Ltd signed an agreement to develop the hub, which can accommodate the berthing of 30 vessels for the transfer of petroleum-based products and liquefied natural gas.

The project cost is estimated at US$150mil to US$180mil (RM612mil to RM735mil) and construction is expected to be completed by 2021. It came into the spotlight after Tunku Mahkota Johor Tunku Ismail Ibrahim shared a posting on his Facebook page, criticising the project.