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Johor Umno Youth: Dr Mahathir must come clean about Pulau Batu Puteh issue

Publish date: Sat, 25 Jun 2022, 10:03 AM

JOHOR BARU, June 24 — Johor Umno Youth wants former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad to give a firm reason for his decision to withdraw the review on the International Court of Justice’s (ICJ) Pedra Branca (Pulau Batu Puteh) judgment.

Its chief Mohd Hairi Mad Shah said the wing had been steadfast in wanting to uphold the order of Johor Ruler Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar to continue the review of the ICJ judgment to regain the southern state’s sovereignty.

He also criticised Dr Mahathir’s statement on Facebook today where the nonagenarian denied the matter was mentioned in a congress last Sunday in relation to claims made about Singapore and the Indonesian Riau Islands.

“In Dr Mahathir’s denial, he blamed media reports and stressed that he had never asked Malaysia to reclaim the two territories.

“His statement at the time wanted to show that Malaysians, especially in Johor, were very worried about losing a rock the size of a table but never about larger parts of Malaysia when they were taken away.

“Johor Umno Youth believes that Dr Mahathir does not understand the significance of claiming a piece of land and a country’s sovereignty,” said Mohd Hairi in a statement issued here tonight.

His comments were in response to Dr Mahathir who reportedly suggested to a congress in Singapore last Sunday that Malaysia should reclaim the Riau islands and Singapore because based on history, these were once part of the country.

However, Dr Mahathir clarified the next day that the remarks, made as part of a speech, were “inaccurate” and the media had reported them out of context.

Mohd Hairi said although Dr Mahathir believes that Pedra Branca or Pulau Batu Puteh was only as big as a table, Johor Umno Youth was of the view that it was a symbol of the country’s sovereignty.

He said it was very unfortunate if there were no efforts made to fight or demand its return.

Mohd Hairi said Dr Mahathir also claimed that the loss of Pedra Branca was the due to the Johor government and denied that the island ever belonged to Johor.

“Dr Mahathir said if the denial was not made, there would be no dispute now,” he said.

Mohd Hairi questioned if it was true that the Johor government had previously made a denial regarding the status of the island.

He urged both the Johor or federal governments today to make a claim and ascertain if there are any supporting documents or evidence that can be used to challenge the previous decision.

Yesterday, Indonesian Foreign Ministry spokesman Teuku Faizasyah was quoted as saying Indonesia denied the claims and described them as having no legal basis.

He said the Riau islands are recognised as Indonesian territory at the international level.

In 2008, the ICJ ruled that Pedra Branca (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 Pakatan Harapan (PH) government under Dr Mahathir withdrew the application before the case was scheduled to be heard on June 11, 2018.

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