Legal actions should be taken against betrayal involving Batu Puteh - Onn Hafiz

26 Jun 2022 05:48pm
Pulau Batu Puteh. FILE PIX.
Pulau Batu Puteh. FILE PIX.

ISKANDAR PUTERI - Johor Menteri Besar Datuk Onn Hafiz Ghazi today said legal actions should be taken against the betrayal that has caused the country to lose Batu Puteh.

He said the decision by the then Pakatan Harapan (PH) government to withdraw a review application over the International Court of Justice's (ICJ) decision on the Batu Puteh claim was a mistake that not only set a bad precedent but also created a dark moment in the history of this sovereign nation.

"As a sovereign country, there is no room for its leaders to take the matter of defending the country's sovereignty lightly or carelessly, no matter how tiny the size of the disputed area, we have to protect and defend every inch (of the area).

"Legal actions should be taken against this betrayal," he said when winding up the debate on the opening speech of the Sultan of Johor Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar at the Johor State Assembly sitting here today.

He said the ICJ had clearly stated that Batu Puteh had once been part of the Johor sultanate.

"The decision not to proceed with the claim on Batu Puteh or Pedra Branca had also been made by Pakatan Harapan leaders. This is a matter of national sovereignty and dignity.

"The question now is, who advised the government to make such reckless decisions when the Attorney General was on leave at that time. Malaysians, especially the people of Johor are very concerned and take this matter seriously," he said.

Onn Hafiz said Batu Puteh, which is about the size of a football field, might not have significant economic importance to some people, but it was a strategic maritime position crucial to the country, adding that it was located about 14.3 kilometres from Tanjung Penyusop, Johor compared to 46 kilometres from Changi, Singapore.

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He said losing Batu Puteh, which was located on the main route for merchant ships through the Straits of Melaka and the South China Sea, hurt the people, especially fishermen who complained that their source of income was affected.

"We have received reports that many of our fishermen have been told to leave the surrounding areas near Batu Puteh by the Singapore coast guard.

"Given that Batu Puteh now belongs to Singapore, this will lead to disputes over overlapping claims for maritime areas, not to mention that Malaysia's Batuan Tengah is only about one kilometre from Batu Puteh," he added.

He said the dispute was now becoming more serious when there were reports that Singapore was carrying out reclamation work on the island, even though the decision on the maritime border was still under negotiation and had not been finalised.

On June 16, Sultan Ibrahim Almarhum Sultan Iskandar in his opening speech at the First Session of the 15th State Legislative Assembly expressed disappointment with the federal government's decision to withdraw its application for a judicial review on Batu Puteh in 2018.- BERNAMA