JOHOR BARU (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Johor will seek legal advice after the federal Pakatan Harapan government announced plans to develop a ship-to-ship (STS) transfer project in the Strait of Johor facing Tuas.
State Public Works, Infrastructure and Transportation Committee chairman Mazlan Bujang said they would discuss the state's sovereign rights and its legal implications of the massive project next week.
"The state legal adviser will also be present to give his advice to the government," he said. "Any decision on the matter will be made by Mentri Besar Osman Sapian."
State Housing and Rural Development Committee chairman Dzulkefly Ahmad said the STS transfer hub was a viable project and the state government did not see a problem to accept it but needed more details from the Federal Government.
The duo's statements come after Johor stressed that the project falls within its territory, as it is located 3.5 nautical miles from its shores.
Malaysia announced on Tuesday that it is developing a multi-million-dollar project off Johor's Port of Tanjung Pelepas to enable ships to transfer their cargo to other vessels without having to dock at the berths, which officials say will allow higher shipping flexibility and cut costs for shippers.
The project, costing between US$150 million (S$203 million) and US$180 million, will cover an area of 1,200ha, more than three times the size of Sentosa Island. It will be built in the Strait of Johor near Tuas.
The joint-project between Malaysian maritime services company KA Petra and Hong Kong-based port operator Hutchison Port Holdings is billed as the "world's biggest" ship-to-ship transfer hub. It will be able to accommodate up to 30 vessels at one time.
A report by Malaysian news portal The Edge Markets quoted KA Petra's executive chairman Shahrul Amirul as saying that the hub falls under the jurisdiction of the federal government because it was more than 3.5 nautical miles from shore.
However, Johor International Trade, Investment and Utility Committee chairman Jimmy Puah Wee Tse on Friday dismissed Mr Shahrul's claims.
Singapore has also requested information from Malaysia over its plan to develop the project, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) said on Friday.