Govt not taking legal action to reclaim Batu Puteh, says Azalina

The law and institutional reform minister says the government is negotiating with the Singapore government on the Batu Puteh maritime boundary delineation.

(FMT) – Law and institutional reform minister Azalina Othman Said has said that the government is not pursuing any legal action to reclaim Batu Puteh, which was awarded by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to Singapore in 2008.

However, she said, Putrajaya is negotiating with Singapore on Batu Puteh’s maritime boundary delineation.

The minister said negotiations were being carried out by two committees, namely the Malaysia-Singapore Joint Technical Committee and the Committee for Boundary Delimitation established pursuant to an agreement between the two countries.

“In this regard, the Malaysian and Singapore governments, have agreed that the content of the negotiations, including decisions and negotiation notes, are classified as confidential and cannot be disclosed to third parties without the written consent of the parties involved,” Azalina said in a written parliamentary reply.

She was responding to opposition leader Hamzah Zainudin (PN-Larut), who wanted the prime minister to disclose what legal action has been taken to reclaim Batu Puteh, apart from the setting up of a Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI).

The Malaysian government had submitted an application to the ICJ on Feb 3, 2017 to seek a revision of its decision.

However, the application was withdrawn by the Pakatan Harapan administration, led by Dr Mahathir Mohamad, before it came up for hearing in June 11, 2018.

Three years later, Johor ruler Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar called for the government to issue a detailed explanation of its decision to withdraw, adding that its failure to pursue the matter was tantamount to a concession of defeat.

In November 2021, the Cabinet agreed to form a special task force to investigate the government’s decision.

One year later, Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim called for meaningful talks with Singapore over Batu Puteh.

2 months to evaluate concept papers on HSR project

Meanwhile, transport minister Loke Siew Fook said MyHSR Corporation Sdn Bhd (MyHSR Corp) is currently evaluating seven concept papers from local and international firms and consortiums on the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore high-speed rail (HSR) project.

He said MyHSR Corp would need two months to evaluate the concept papers for the project.

“The evaluation results will be submitted for government approval to shortlist consortiums for the next stage of the process, which is the request for proposals,” Loke said in a written parliamentary reply.

In January, MyHSR Corp chairman Fauzi Abdul Rahman said the findings from the request for information would be presented to the transport ministry and Cabinet for deliberation, following submission of concept proposals by the consortiums.

Malaysia and Singapore jointly announced the termination of the HSR project on Jan 1, 2021, following a failure to reach consensus on modifications proposed by Malaysia prior to the expiry of the project agreement on Dec 31, 2020.

However, in August last year, Anwar announced that Malaysia would present Singapore with a revised proposal for the HSR project.