Batu Puteh loss calls for legal action

ISKANDAR PUTERI: The Johor Mentri Besar has taken aim at the previous Pakatan Harapan government over the country’s loss of Batu Puteh to Singapore, saying that legal action should be taken against those responsible.

Datuk Onn Hafiz Ghazi said the then Pakatan government had erred when it withdrew the application for a review of the International Court of Justice’s (ICJ) decision on Batu Puteh.

“The move under Pakatan’s administration had not only left a negative precedent but also created a dark mark in the history of our country and our sovereignty.

“It is hoped that legal action would be taken against those responsible,” he said in his winding-up speech at the state assembly sitting here yesterday.

Onn Hafiz explained that Batu Puteh, despite its size of just a football field, was strategically located on the main route for merchant ships passing through the Straits of Malacca to the South China Sea.

“It is located 14.3km away from Tanjung Penyusop, Johor, compared to 46km from Changi, Singapore,” he said, adding that it had strategic maritime position.

He said that losing Batu Puteh had impacted Malaysians, especially fishermen whose source of income was affected.

“We have received reports that many of our fishermen have been chased out from the area surrounding Batu Puteh, which is being monitored by Singapore coastguards,” Onn Hafiz added.The ICJ ruled in 2008 that Batu Puteh or Pedra Branca belonged to Singapore, while sovereignty over the nearby Terumbu Karang Tengah or Middle Rocks was awarded to Malaysia.

In 2017, Malaysia under the Barisan Nasional government filed an application for a review of the ICJ decision.

The following year, the then Pakatan administration withdrew the application before the case was scheduled to be heard.

On a separate matter, Onn Hafiz said the state government was prepared to have a bipartisan relationship with the state Opposition for the benefit of Johoreans.

“However, this must be done sincerely by both parties. Do not say one thing in this hall and another on social media,” he said.

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