KUALA LUMPUR, June 25 — Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad today reminded Asean community members about the need for cooperation on the principles of shared well-being to ensure peace and prosperity.
In his speech at the 33rd Asia-Pacific Roundtable at the Hilton Hotel here, Dr Mahathir also shared how despite still feeling strongly about Malaysia’s stake on Pulau Batu Puteh, the government accepted the decision handed down by the International Court of Justice (ICJ).
“Member states do not need to agree on everything to work well together. What counts is that we share basic principles of mutual respect, cooperation, sovereign equality and common regional prosperity and well-being.
“When there is a dispute, we go to the table and discuss and negotiate. If we fail we resort to arbitration or go to the International Court of Justice. We abide by the decisions.
“Malaysia won in our overlapping claims of territory with Indonesia but lost in another with Singapore. All parties accepted the decision though we still feel strongly about our rights to the disputed territory that we lost,” Dr Mahathir said.
He then pointed out another case of an overlapping claim with neighbouring Thailand on oil extraction, which via a mutual agreement later, led to both nations profiting greatly.
“Fifty-two years on, Asean has become a thriving community in a stable and peaceful region. As I’ve pointed out earlier, disputes have been managed though a few have not been resolved,” he added.
Pulau Batu Puteh, or Pedra Branca as it is now known, was a disputed island claimed by Malaysia and Singapore since 1979, when Malaysia published a map indicating the island to be within the country’s territory.
This led to a nearly three-decade dispute with Singapore that was finally resolved when the island was ruled to be Singaporean territory by the International Court of Justice in 2008.
The court, however, refrained from awarding South Ledge, also to the south of Pedra Branca, to either Malaysia or Singapore.
However, during Barisan Nasional’s (BN) governance, then attorney general Tan Sri Mohamed Apandi Ali attempted to again stake a claim on the island by seeking a revision of the 2008 judgement in favour of Singapore.