ISKANDAR PUTERI • Johor's Menteri Besar Osman Sapian has blamed the previous state government for the loss of Pedra Branca to Singapore, as he responded to questions in the state assembly on Sunday.
He claimed the then Barisan Nasional (BN) state government led by Mr Abdul Ghani Othman, who was Johor chief minister from 1995 to 2013, "kept quiet" when Singapore erected a telecommunications tower on the island, which Malaysia calls Pulau Batu Puteh, in 1997.
Datuk Osman claimed the BN administration also did not object to a plan by Singapore to reclaim the sea area off the island.
"Johor also did not do anything to claim ownership of Pulau Batu Puteh by erecting any structure on the island," Mr Osman said in his winding-up speech during a state assembly sitting.
The Menteri Besar was responding to questions from two BN lawmakers on the Johor Pakatan Harapan's (PH) stand on Pedra Branca.
Johor opposition leader Hasni Mohammad said the PH state government should discuss with the federal government to make another bid to claim the island.
The International Court of Justice (ICJ) on June 1 said it had dropped a long-running territorial dispute between Malaysia and Singapore by mutual consent. The court said Malaysia had notified it of its intent to drop its claim to the island, near the opening of the Strait of Singapore.
In a 2008 ruling, the ICJ awarded Pedra Branca to Singapore, and the nearby Middle Rocks formation to Malaysia.
Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said on May 30 that Malaysia planned to enlarge Middle Rocks to form a small island.
THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK