Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Pulau Pisang Is Ours: M’sia

Source : TODAY, Wednesday May 28, 2008

Malaysia takes steps to claim 100 isles and reefs after Pedra Branca ruling

KUALA LUMPUR — Malaysian reports have declared that another island — on which Singapore operates a lighthouse — will not end up like Pedra Branca, even as the Kuala Lumpur takes steps to claim 100 isles and reefs.

There is no danger of losing Pulau Pisang to Singapore as Malaysia clearly has sovereignty over Pulau Pisang, Johor’s Chief Minister was quoted as saying by The Star newspaper yesterday.

Pulau Pisang is about 15km off Johor in the Straits of Malacca.

Johor Chief Minister Abdul Ghani Othman said ownership of Pulau Pisang was based on a treaty between Sultan Ibrahim of Johor and the British in 1900, which clearly stated that Malaysia had sovereignty over the island. “Our land office records show that Pulau Pisang belongs to Johor,” he said.

A 16-metre lighthouse on the island is managed by the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore.

Mr Abdul Ghani said the lighthouse guided ships into the Singapore Straits and was manned by four Singaporean guards.

He noted that Malaysians were allowed to enter the island but were prohibited from entering the lighthouse. There are also more than 80 farmers on Pulau Pisang, who work there.

The Chief Minister’s announcement came as The New Straits Times (NST) reported that government agencies are working to gather information on islands and marine features that could be eyed by neighbouring countries.

As the claim of ownership extends beyond islands to marine features such as reefs and rock formations visible only during low tide, the number could exceed thousands.

The NST report quoted a maritime expert as saying the most urgent cases to be verified were about 100 isles, reefs, rocks and other marine features lying in the South China Sea, Straits of Malacca and off Sabah. China, Vietnam and Indonesia are said to be among the claimants.

The expert, who was not named in the report, added that collection of data in such cases was crucial. “If other countries start to claim our property, we will be in better position as we would have the data.”

Meanwhile, Malaysian opposition lawmakers yesterday protested in Parliament against the loss of Batu Puteh, which Singapore calls Pedra Branca. Last Friday, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ended a 28-year dispute over Pedra Branca by zuling that Singapore has jurisdiction over it.

Opposition MPs stood up in protest after Parti Islam SeMalaysia’s (PAS) motion to debate the ICJ ruling was rejected yesterday by Speaker Pandikar Amin Mulia, who said Malaysia had accepted the results on Batu Puteh.

PAS officials in Johor have also lodged a police report against former Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Albar, Mr Abdul Ghani and Attorney-General Abdul Gani Patail accusing them of causing Malaysia to lose Batu Puteh.

“Malaysia should not have placed the case before ICJ without the necessary evidence,” Malaysian analyst Khoo Kay Peng said, referring to a statement made by Malaysian ambassador-at-large Abdul Kadir Mohamad previously.

In the statement, Mr Abdul Kadir said he could not locate a letter sent by a British governor in Butterworth to the Johor Temenggong seeking permission to build the Horsburgh Lighthouse on Batu Puteh. Mr Khoo said: “Abdullah might have wanted to have the case settled as soon as possible to help warm bilateral ties, but it is not doing any good for his political career.”

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