Malaysiakini has published Gov't ready for 'tussle' over Sabah, in which it tells us that, according to Rais Yatim the new Foreign Minister, our government may face the possibility of another Philippines' claim on Sabah.
Rais Yatim had bravely declared that Malaysia is ready with all the documents, including those on the referendum conducted by the Cobbold Commission in April 1962 ... yadda yadda yadda ...
I am not sure whether Rais Yatim is scare-mongering, but undoubtedly this 'news' will find fertile grounds especially in the wake of our legal loss (note the adjective ‘legal’ – will discuss this shortly) of Pulau Batu Puteh to Singapore.
Well, a minor but important correction to the above sentence - the isle isn’t Pulau Batu Puteh anymore, now and forever more (unless we go to war with Singapore and win) – it’s Singapore’s Pedra Branca!
'… Singapore’s Pedra Branca …' – hurting, isn’t it, and we have to just suck on that humiliating and totally unnecessary loss!
'Scare-mongering' of course is a tactic (of bullsh*t patriotism) frequently adopted by parties (usually the government) to either divert attention from other 'embarrassing' issues or to marshal support around them, or both.
John Howard, former PM of Australia did it regularly when he was in charge – those who have been familiar with Australian affairs would have heard of 'SS Tampa', 'children overboard', 'Nauru' and his grandstanding statement to warm the cockles of the conservative elements of the Australian electorate, namely his gratuitous-defiant statement that 'We decide who comes to Australia', as if that wasn’t/isn’t ever the case.
There are other examples of such resorting to Samuel Jackson's 'patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel', but let’s return to the Malaysian issue of an allegedly possible rapacious Philippines’ claim for Sabah again.
In reality, the Filipino government hasn’t made such a move, as confessed by Rais Yatim himself. 'Twas only a the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) who said the Bangsamoro would try all legal avenues to settle the Sabah issue peacefully, and if necessary, refer Malaysia to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) over its claim to Sabah.
The MNLF is not even recognised as a sovereign power, so WTF has Rais Yatim been attempting to cook up?
Besides – and many may not realize this – one of the cornerstone of the ICJ’s respected jurisdiction is that it acts only on the basis of explicit consent of all the parties coming before it. There is no compulsory jurisdiction. Even a State like Malaysia being a party to the ICJ's Statute does not automatically give the Court jurisdiction over disputes involving Malaysia and another State like Singapore, Indonesia or the Philippines.
All these are reflected in its Statute's Article 36. The ICJ works on the basis that all the parties coming before it voluntarily have a true desire for the dispute to be resolved by the Court.
To summarise, the ICJ wouldn’t have been able to shaft the Pedra Branca decision down Malaysia’s throat. We went to the ICJ on this issue like a lamb knowing it would be sembilih (slaughtered), with the inevitability of our Batu Puteh going to Singapore.
Malaysiakini in its earlier report on our monumental ‘legal’ loss of real estate said that:
Malaysia claimed original title to Pulau Batu Puteh, while Singapore, which knows the islet as Pedra Branca argued that sovereignty had passed to it tacitly, having operated the Horsburgh Lighthouse on the island for more than 130 years without any protest from its neighbour.
The court found that the Malaysian sultanate-turned-province of Johor had held the original title but had taken ‘no action at all’ regarding the island for more than a century.
What 130 years of Singaporean operation of Horsburgh Lighthouse (pray tell?), when Singapore has only existed as a sovereign State for 43 years (since 1965)?
All those arguments had been based on the legacy of British colonialism, where the colonial power built and operated the lighthouse for the safe navigation of sea vessels into or out of its colony, once called Temasek and conned from the Johor Sultanate in 1819 by the British through its interfering/intervention in local politics, just as the Yanks are doing in Iraq for oil.
Singapore as a Crown colony had 'inherited' the lighthouse management (and by extension, the ownership) but only by default, when it was allowed by the Brits to join a new Malaysia in 1963.
Then, during a time when the world had no strategic interest in itsy bitsy puny little offshore useless pieces of rocks, when even the term Economic Exclusie Zone (EEZ) hasn’t yet been coined, a disinterested Johore official had written a letter declaring Johore had no interest in Pulau Batu Putih.
Regrettably our survey department received no ministerial policy on such issues, and had printed maps showing the isle as under Singapore’s domain. Can you ever imagine Chinese cartographers publishing maps that show Taiwan as an independent State?
No doubt (Malaya and) Malaysia had been sleeping or not far sighted enough. Yes, Singapore has had de facto ownership of the isle. But why did we have to take an already lost case to the ICJ where we are now bound by its verdict. Pulau Batu Putih is now LEGALLY Singapore’s. It has indisputable de jure ownership!
We could and should have let the de facto ownership dispute stew on in amicable fashion for years, even decades, until we have something that Singapore wants, when as quid pro quo, we could then demand joint management of the lighthouse and consequently joint ownership of what had been historically our land (except for a colonial bastardization of our rights).
But now, we need to know who gave 'advice' to the government to proceed to the ICJ on the issue of sovereignty of Pulau Batu Putih. Which musuh dalam selimut or Trojan Horse has sold away our birthrights to a foreign nation? We need to investigate whether there was any form of kow-tim-ness involved.
….. and is that why, at this juncture, the no-issue Sabah claim by a nonentity like the MNLF, has been raised?