KUALA LUMPUR, June 23 — Former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad clarified today that a report of him saying Johor should reclaim Singapore and the Riau islands lacked the context to show he was mocking the idea.
On June 20, Singapore news outlet The Straits Times reported him as making the remarks in a speech the previous day, which Dr Mahathir categorised as “inaccurate”.
“I am not asking Malaysia to claim the land that we had lost. I am trying to point out that we are so concerned over losing a table-size rocPulau Batu Putehk but never about bigger parts of Malaysia when they were taken from us. Losing is no big deal. It was the mistake of the Johor government to deny that the rock belonged to Johor.
“Had that denial not been made, there would be no dispute now. We should be grateful that the world court awarded Pulau Ligitan and Sipadan to us. They are much more valuable than Pulau Batu Puteh — just a rock outcrop. We should be thankful that Indonesia has not disputed the award. Really, we are not grateful for our gains,” he said in a statement.
The ST reported Dr Mahathir as saying Malaysia should not stop at claiming Pedra Branca, but also Singapore and the Riau islands as these were once part of the country.
In 2008, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled that Pedra Branca (Pulau Batu Puteh) belonged to Singapore, while sovereignty over the nearby Terumbu Karang Tengah was awarded to Malaysia.
In 2017, the Malaysian government filed an application for review of the decision of the ICJ but the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government under Dr Mahathir withdrew the application before the case was scheduled to be heard on June 11, 2018.