S’pore’s claim to exclusive zone around Pedra Branca ‘an act of provocation’
JOHOR BARU – SEVERAL Johor politicians are upset with Singapore’s plan to claim a territorial sea and an exclusive economic zone around Pedra Branca.
Puteri Wangsa state assemblyman Datuk Abdul Halim Suleiman called the statement by Singapore as ‘an action of provocation’ and said Malaysia should not be trapped by the provocation, a tactic the republic used regularly, Malaysian media reported on Thursday.
He said Singapore should have referred the maritime border issue to the technical committee.
Singapore Senior Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Balaji Sadasivan told its Parliament on Monday that the Pedra Branca saga has entered a new phase and the next main development will take place later this year.
That’s when Singapore and Malaysia will carry out a joint survey of the area around Pedra Branca island and two nearby maritime features: Middle Rocks and the South Ledge.
This will pave the way for both countries to discuss maritime delimitation issues related to the three areas, which are in the Singapore Strait 40km east of the Republic.
Dr Balaji also said that Singapore will announce ‘at an appropriate time’ the precise coordinates of the territorial sea and exclusive economic zone that it is claiming around Pedra Branca.
Johor Historical Association committee member Zaaba Abdul Samad described Singapore Senior Minister of State Balaji Sadasivan’s statement as ‘wild’ since the technical committee of both countries were still in talks over the maritime border.
‘Personally, I think Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim, who is in Singapore for the Asean Foreign Ministers Meeting, should leave immediately in protest against the provocative statement,’ he was quoted by the New Straits Times as saying.
Mr Zaaba said the association will continue its efforts to trace the letter sent by Straits Settlements Governor William John Butterworth to the Sultan of Johor in 1844 asking permission to build a lighthouse on Pedra Branca.
Gelang Patah state assemblyman Datuk Abdul Aziz Sapian said Dr Balaji’s statement showed that Singapore wanted to expand its territory and become a major maritime force in the region.
In Kuala Lumpur, Umno Youth chief Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein said Singapore’s move was not in tune with the fine ties between the two countries and was also against the Asean spirit.