Johor to study STS transfer hub’s impact on state sovereignty, says exco

Mazlan Bujang (2nd left) and Dzulkefly Ahmad (3rd left) conduct a walkabout at the PPR Desa Mutiara flats in Tebrau, Johor Baru April 5, 2019. — Picture by Ben Tan
Mazlan Bujang (2nd left) and Dzulkefly Ahmad (3rd left) conduct a walkabout at the PPR Desa Mutiara flats in Tebrau, Johor Baru April 5, 2019. — Picture by Ben Tan

JOHOR BARU, April 5 — The implications of the proposed ship-to-ship (STS) transfer hub on Johor’s sovereign rights will be discussed at the state exco meeting next week, said Johor Public Works, Infrastructure and Transportation Committee chairman Mazlan Bujang.

“We will look into the claims and discuss it before we can come to any decision. There is no rush and we have to look at every detail first before reaching a conclusion,” he told reporters after visiting PPR Desa Mutiara flats in Tebrau here with Housing and Rural Development Committee chairman Dzulkefly Ahmad.

Mazlan said the state government was still awaiting further details on the STS transfer hub from the federal government.

Following that, he said the state legal adviser will also be present to advise the government during the meeting and any decision on the matter will be made by Johor Mentri Besar Datuk Osman Sapian.

Meanwhile, Dzulkefly said the transfer hub was a viable project and the state government does not see a problem with welcoming it, but needed more details from the federal government

“In principle, we don’t see a problem with cooperating with the federal government on this as we are also from the same Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition.

“We have also shown our commitment to the federal government in the past and this issue will not be a barrier for both governments to cooperate,” said Dzulkefly.

Earlier today, state International Trade, Investment and Utility Committee chairman Jimmy Puah sought to assert the state’s rights over the transfer hub here, maintaining that Johor’s legal consent was needed under the Federal Constitution.

He noted that Section 3(1) of the Territorial Sea Act 2012 endorses the definition of territorial sea as set by the 1982 Law of the Sea at 12 nautical miles, whereas Section 3 (3) limited the state’s jurisdiction to three nautical miles.

Despite the transfer hub operating 3.5 nautical miles from the coast, however, he argued that Article 2 of the Federal Constitution stipulates that while Parliament may legally alter the boundaries to any state, this was not effective without the state legislature and Conference of Rulers’ consent.

“Land and water jurisdictions are sacrosanct to the state as enshrined under the Federal Constitution and we are reminded to always be vigilant and defend our state’s right should any party seek to challenge our sovereignty,” said Puah in a statement today.

The transfer hub is built via a collaboration between KA Petra and the world’s largest shipping company, the Hong Kong-based Hutchinson Port Holdings Limited.

It is expected to cost between US$150 million and US$180 million (RM612.60 million and RM735.109 million).

The agreement was signed by both parties in Putrajaya on Tuesday and witnessed by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

The issue emerged after Johor Crown Prince Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim, on his Facebook page, criticised the federal government for not consulting the state over the matter and alleged links between unnamed government leaders and cronies.

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