KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 15 — Lawyer Muhammad Rafique Rashid Ali today alleged that the setting up of a special task force to scrutinise and recommend necessary options on the Pulau Batu Puteh case was merely to place the blame on former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
Malay daily Utusan Malaysia quoted Muhammad Rafique as saying that the appointment of former attorney general Tan Sri Mohamed Apandi Ali as the head of the special task force suggests a conflict of interest that violates the principle of law.
“In fact, the existence of this special team reflects the government’s seeming disrespect of the judiciary following a lawsuit by one party who was dissatisfied with the decision to withdraw the International Court of Justice (ICJ) judgment.
“Therefore, the appointment of Mohamed Apandi should be withdrawn or he himself should resign because his position violates the public interest due to the purpose of establishing this team in order to safeguard the country’s sovereignty,” he reportedly said.
Previously, Mohamed Apandi claimed to have solid evidence, facts and foundations that Pulau Batu Puteh belonged to Malaysia and he was disappointed when the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government led by Dr. Mahathir decided to withdraw the review and interpretation of the judgment on the island in 2018.
On October 9, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said the Cabinet had agreed to set up a special task force led by Mohamed Apandi which would seek the views of international legal experts about a request to review the ICJ decision.
Ismail said the Cabinet had also decided to obtain preliminary legal views about any negligence in the decision to discontinue the review and interpretation of the ICJ judgement.
Mohamad Apandi was once reported to have said that Malaysia had missed the opportunity to regain Pulau Batu Puteh after Dr Mahathir decided to withdraw the review and interpretation of the judgment on the island’s sovereignty case as well as Batuan Tengah and Tubir Selatan.
The former attorney general said Dr Mahathir made the decision a few days before the case was scheduled to be heard at the ICJ on June 11, 2018.