MALAYSIA Tanah Tumpah Darahku



10 APRIL 2024

Friday, January 27, 2023

Pejuang labels AG’s statement on Pulau Batu Puteh issue “perplexing”


Pejuang labelled Attorney-General (AG) Idrus Harun’s statement on Malaysia’s withdrawal on the sovereignty cases of Pulau Batu Puteh and two other areas as “perplexing”.

The party’s information chief Muhammad Rafique Rashid Ali said this in response to Idrus’ media statement earlier today that the withdrawal of the two review applications on Pulau Batu Puteh (Pedra Branca), Middle Rocks and South Ledge as “not in order and improper”.

“It is rather perplexing that on one part, the current government is of the view that the withdrawal of the two applications was improper (wholly denied), but in the same vein, states it respects the ICJ (International Court of Justice) decision.

“Respecting the ICJ is the primary basis for the decision of the previous government (led by then prime minister and former Pejuang chairperson Dr Mahathir Mohamad) in 2018,” Rafique told Malaysiakini.

In today’s statement, Idrus said that while the present government respects the ICJ’s decision over the sovereignty cases, the Attorney-General's Chambers is also studying the recommendations made by the Special Task Force, including issues related to the tort of misfeasance in public office, and will take the necessary actions to implement the decision made.

On that note, Rafique (above) reminded that Mahathir had at the very outset firmly claimed that the head of the Special Task Force, former AG Mohamed Apandi Ali, was “biased and in a clear position of conflict of interest”.

Attorney-General Idrus Harun

Rafique, who is also a lawyer, said Mahathir’s contention arose as it was Apandi’s initiative to recommend the review of the ICJ decision in the first place.

He also pointed out that Mahathir is still willing to assist in any investigation, so long as issues of conflict of interest, bias and/or breach of natural justice are resolved.

“Surely this government, which believes in justice and reform, would want to revisit the issue of bias and conflict of interest of the Special Task Force. It is key in this whole episode in coming to the truth of the matter,” he said.

Rafique claimed that the decision to discontinue the two review applications was made after extensive consideration of the advice and opinion of a foreign counsel, Brendan Plant, and two local lawyers.

He alleged the said lawyers were the same ones appointed by Apandi to his team in 2016, and that legal advice was also taken from the then solicitor-general, in the absence of an attorney-general at that time (a brief period after the 14th general election in May 2018).

“All of these opinions and viewpoints prompted Mahathir to discontinue the two applications. The same was collectively supported by the then-Harapan cabinet.

“Hence, it is quite baffling that the Pulau Batu Puteh saga is still being relentlessly pursued despite the myriad of explanations, evidence and justifications that have been repeatedly made,” Rafique contended.

Former attorney-general Apandi Ali

On Feb 3, 2017, Putrajaya filed an application for a review of the ICJ decision on May 23, 2008, which ruled that Singapore has sovereign rights over Pulau Batu Puteh, while Malaysia has sovereign rights over the Central Reef.

However, the then-Harapan government led by Mahathir withdrew the review application in 2018, before the case was scheduled to be heard on June 11 that year, at the ICJ.

Last October, the Special Task Force said that Mahathir was possibly negligent by failing to file an appeal on the case.

Last Dec 14, Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim requested the attorney-general to explain the matter, and said the government was seeking to hold more “meaningful” discussions with Singapore. - Mkini

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