Malaysia says it's committed to international law on land reclamation

KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia has assured Singapore that it remains committed to international law amid concerns over possible massive land reclamation in southern Johor.

The New Straits Times quoted Foreign Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman as saying Malaysia had been engaging Singapore through the Malaysia-Singapore Joint Committee on the Environment (MSJCE).

"The Federal Government, led by the Department of Environment (DoE), has close consultation with the Johor government and the project developers.

"The ministry and other relevant agencies are also engaged in the consultation," the newspaper quoted the minister as saying in a statement in response to Singapore's concerns.

The joint committee is co-chaired by the DoE director-general and the chief executive of the National Environment Agency of Singapore (NEA), said the report.

On Saturday, Singapore's Foreign Affairs Ministry, in a statement, said it was concerned about possible transboundary impact from the property development projects that involved reclamation works in the Straits of Johor.

"There are also international obligations for both Malaysia and Singapore authorities to work closely on such matters," the statement said.

The statement also mentioned that Singapore requested for more information so that it could undertake a study on the impact of the reclamation works.

The Forest City project in Johor would see massive land reclamation work near the Second Link and this has raised concerns across the Causeway.

The project was said to involve several connected islands with a total land size of about 2,000ha - bigger than Pangkor island.

The New Straits Times quoted Mr Anifah as saying the government was committed to fulfilling its obligations under general principles of international law, particularly the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

He said the government also took cognisance of the provisions of the 2005 Settlement Agreement between Malaysia and Singapore for the exchange of information and discussions on matters affecting their respective environments in the Straits of Johor.

In Johor Baru, the state government has clarified that the Forest City development project has stopped for the past week, but were done in stages by developers so as not to jeopardise works in the area.

Johor Health and Environment Committee chairman Datuk Ayub Rahmat said the state government would not interfere in the matter and would leave it to the DoE and the project developer.