JOHOR BARU, Jan 16 — Youth group Dewan Muda Johor (DMJ) today urged Johor Mentri Besar Datuk Osman Sapian to explain and provide evidence on the allegation by Singapore that his entourage had entered the island republic’s waters last week.
DMJ Security, Legal, Integrity and International Committee chairman Onn Mahathir Md Nasir said the issue should be resolved immediately with Osman himself clarifying, if he was on the right side.
“If he (Osman) thinks he is being maligned and persecuted by the Singapore government, he has to present immediate evidence of the latitude and longitude reports indicating that he did not cross into Singapore’s waters.
“But if it is true that Wisma Putra did not give its blessing to his action at the time, it needs to be urgently settled diplomatically so that relations between the two countries would not be affected.
“And if it is true that it is his mistake, it is better for him to apologise for the sake of harmony to the people and stability of Johor,” said Onn Mahathir in a statement today.
The statement comes as Singapore has sought to blame Osman for trespassing into its waters in a provocative act last week.
Last Wednesday, Osman had visited MV Pedoman which was anchored within Johor Baru’s new port limits, but Singapore is disputing the limits claim and has since expanded its own port limits to overlap Johor Baru’s.
Onn Mahathir said Singapore's action in deferring the 14th Joint Ministerial Committee for Iskandar Malaysia due to the allegations that the Johor menteri besar had infiltrated Singapore's waters may also have long-term impact for about 400,000 Malaysians who enter the island republic for work daily.
He said DMJ believes Osman is facing a blow to his leadership when Pasir Gudang MP Hassan Karim expressed disappointment yesterday when Putrajaya did not defend the embattled mentri besar.
“Disputes over the Singapore-Malaysia air and maritime space is opening another new crisis between the administration of the federal and Johor state governments,” he said.
Onn Mahathir added that this follows Hassan’s statement that he was disappointed due to Putrajaya's silence in not defending the Johor mentri besar.
“If it is true what is being said, it is a blow to the leadership of the Johor mentri besar,” he said.
However, Onn Mahathir said, the people of Johor will continue to provide support if Osman is on the right side, but will never defend him if it was a negligent act on his part.
“There is no benefit in becoming a hero by the proliferation of unproductive polemics.
“On the other hand, focusing on developing the state, safeguarding the welfare of the people, focusing on fulfilling the manifesto and safeguarding the state's honour is one way to be remembered as a people's hero,” he said.
Yesterday, Hassan was the first Pakatan Harapan (PH) leader who defended Osman against Singapore’s claims of provocation into its waters last Wednesday.
He also criticised the ruling PH leadership for staying silent after Singapore described Osman’s visit as trespassing, saying it was unfair to see the Johor menteri besar being “bullied” by the republic’s leaders over the allegations.