Radar on Middle Rocks

By Marhalim Abas, The Sun

PETALING JAYA: Malaysia will build a permanent installation on Middle Rocks, which the International Court of Justice had four years ago ruled as belonging to the country.

Sources said the RM70 million project will comprise two structures – a radar station and living quarters.

The two structures will be linked by a bridge as the rocky outcrops located on the western edge of the South China Sea are 250m apart.

The permanent installation, it is said, will be bigger and more prominent than the Horsburgh lighthouse on nearby Pulau Batu Putih (Pedra Branca) which the ICJ had ruled as belonging to Singapore.

A jetty and a helipad are also planned for the rocky outcrops, which stand only one metre above sea level, about 15km southeast of Johor and 1.1km away from Batu Putih.

Sources familiar with the matter told theSun that the National Security Council is the coordinating agency for the project and the Public Works Department will oversee the construction of the two structures.

It is understood that three companies have been shortlisted for the construction project from the nine invited for the restricted tender exercise.

Once completed, the station will be manned by Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) personnel.

With the Middle Rocks station operational, MMEA will have 10 radars to monitor the country’s sea borders.

The new radar station is expected to enhance the surveillance of the waters of Tanjung Pengerang and the Singapore Straits.

Pengerang is only 30 minutes boat ride from Batam.

Currently, MMEA relies on the radar on its patrol boats for surveillance of the busy waterway.

The MMEA is also working with Singapore’s Maritime Security Task Force (MSTF) to monitor and carry out surveillance off the Pengerang waters, as Singapore also operates a radar station at the lighthouse on Batu Putih.

Both Malaysia and Singapore had previously claimed Batu Putih, Middle Rocks and South Ledge as their territory.

After long negotiations, both countries agreed to take the matter to the ICJ, which began hearings in 2007.

In 2008, in a 15-to-one ruling, the ICJ awarded Middle Rocks to Malaysia, and Batu Putih or Pedra Branca to Singapore by a 12-to-four ruling. The status of South Ledge, however, remains unresolved.

A team from the Mapping and Survey Department constructed a flag pole, five markers and a monument on Middle Rocks between June 4 and 12, 2008 shortly after the ICJ ruling.