JOHOR BARU, June 25 – A Johor Parti Pejuang Tanah Air (Pejuang) leader today slammed Umno’s Tanjung Surat assemblyman Aznan Tamin for being malicious by blaming former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad for rejecting the proposed judicial review of the International Court of Justice’s (ICJ) ruling on Pedra Branca (Pulau Batu Puteh).
Parit Sulong Pejuang parliamentary coordinator Mahdzir Ibrahim said Johor Umno should look at the issue from a more broader perspective instead of a narrow-minded angle that reeks of cheap politics.
“Yes, there is truth when he (Aznan) touched on Dr Mahathir’s speech which referred to Pulau Batu Puteh as an 'island the size of a table' because its size is small compared to the man-made island of Forest City in Johor.
“If Johor Umno really wants to maintain Pulau Batu Puteh’s territorial sovereignty, there are more important issues that the party should question.
“Why didn't Johor Umno raise the issue of foreign ownership in the Forest City development project, which does not directly benefit the people of Johor? “What is the use of development in Johor when it belongs to foreigners? Doesn’t the Forest City project also jeopardise the sovereignty and security of the country?” Mahdzir asked in a statement issued tonight.
The socio-political activist was responding to Aznan’s earlier statement that said Dr Mahathir should not point fingers and blame other parties in the Pulau Batu Puteh issue.
Yesterday, Johor Umno Youth chief Mohd Hairi Mad Shah also criticised Dr Mahathir’s statement and urged the Langkawi MP to give a firm reason for his decision to withdraw the review on the ICK’s Pulau Batu Puteh judgment.
Besides the China-owned Forest City project, Mahdzir also castigated Johor Umno for being silent on many other strategic economic areas in Johor that are now being sold to foreigners.
“Why is Johor Umno silent? “Before we point the finger to find fault with others, we should first reflect on ourselves,” he said.
Mahdzir, who was a former political strategist in the previous Johor Pakatan Harapan (PH) administration, said it was common knowledge that the Pulau Batu Puteh issue stemmed from its ownership.
He pointed out that the Pulau Batu Puteh issue involves historical documentation that dates back to the time of British colonial rule and was not something as recent as the past 10 years.
“In fact, most of these documents are not kept in our country’s historical archives. We also need to remember that the question of claim on Pulau Batu Puteh is a government-to-government affair and does not involve a state,” he said.
Mahdzir explained that weaknesses in documenting important matters of our country's history that were incomplete or incorrect back in 2007 became a factor in efforts to claim and dispute Pulau Batu Puteh’s sovereignty.
He added that back in 2007, when the Pulau Batu Puteh case was brought to the ICJ, Malaysia had agreed and was prepared with the judicial decision that whatever the conclusion, it could not be appealed.
“If it is true that there is new evidence to challenge the ICJ's ruling, the question is why was the evidence only discovered after the decision was made and cannot be appealed? “This means that, at an early stage, the team of government lawyers at that time was not prepared with complete evidence. So who is to blame?” asked Mahdzir.
In 2008, the ICJ ruled that Pulau Batu Puteh belonged to Singapore, while sovereignty over the nearby Middle Rocks (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 PH government under Dr Mahathir withdrew the application before the case was scheduled to be heard on June 11, 2018.