26 May, 2008

Pile of Rocks or Island ?

An excerpt from The Malaysian Insider:

If you take a look at news of Pulau Batu Puteh from today, you may notice something. A subtle name change. The Malaysian Insider learned that there was a request from Wisma Putra – specifically the technical committee set up to study implications of the International Court of Justice’s (ICJ) decision – to refer to Pulau Batu Puteh not as an island.

Essentially, they want it to be referred to as either Batu Puteh or Pedra Branca. A check with the editors of two national dailies confirmed the request. "There is no directive but it was more of a favour ... to not refer to the island as an island," said one of the editors.

He went on to elaborate that since it now belongs to Singapore, the newspaper will now refer to the island as Pedra Branca – the way Singapore has always referred to it. He also noted that it should also not be a problem to refer to the island as Batu Puteh. "Just drop the word pulau ... like the way we refer to Penang or Singapore."

But why all this quibbling? What’s in a name, you ask? Apparently, quite a lot. It has to do with territorial seas; this is different for islands and rocks. So it looks like the technical committee is keen on Pedra Branca being officially defined as rocks and not an island.

Singapore, the tiny red rock dot's Foreign Affairs Minister George Yeo said :"We should be more relaxed now about safeguarding our claims, about the intensity of our patrols and so on,”.

Singapore and Malaysia should be more relaxed now about safeguarding their claims over Pulau Batu Puteh and Middle Rocks in the Singapore Straits after the International Court of Justice had made its ruling last week.

Meanwhile, according to Malaysiakini:

"Johor PAS lodged a police report today against former foreign minister Syed Hamid Albar for having been ‘careless’, resulting in the loss of sovereignty over Pulau Batu Puteh to Singapore."

Also named were two key individuals who were alleged to share responsibility in the matter - Johor Menteri Besar Ghani Othman and Attorney-General Abdul Gani Patail.

Johor PAS information chief Mazlan Alimin, who was accompanied by about 30 people, said the government had been careless and irresponsible in allowing Singapore to occupy the uninhabited island.

“They did not do anything against Singapore when it constructed buildings and a light house on the island,” said Mazlan after lodging the report at central police station in Johor Baru.

“This (gave the impression that) the government had recognised Singapore as the owner (of Pulau Batu Puteh).”

Read also, Din Merican's:"Batu Puteh: Police report lodged"



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