Archive for the ‘Pulau Batu Putih’ Category


by Joe Fernandez
Guest Columnist

COMMENTIf the Government in Putrajaya is truly honest with itself, it will confront the fact that there’s very little sympathy in Sabah and Sarawak on the ground for the security forces apparently battling it out in Lahad Datu. It’s 50 years too late. They might as well pack up and go home and instead recall the Sabah Border Scouts and Sarawak Rangers.

At the same time, the continuing statements from one Jamalul Kiram III, the Manila press, the Philippines Government and Nur Misuari of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) on Sabah and Sarawak are being viewed in the right perspective.

Local political parties in Sabah and Sarawak are convinced, like the descendants of the heirs of the defunct Sulu Sultanate and Nur Misuari that the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague is the best venue to settle rival claims to the two Borneo nations. Already, the State Reform Party (Star) led by Jeffrey Kitingan, has reportedly included the ICJ option in their draft Manifesto for the forthcoming 13th General Election.

The ICJ is also the best venue to address the fact that Singapore was expelled in 1965 from the Federation of Malaysia by unconstitutional, unlawful and illegal means. It’s an open secret that then Malaysian Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman had the doors of Parliament locked until the MPs agreed to the expulsion of the city state from the Federation.

The general consensus across both sides of the Sulu Sea is that the Sabah/Sarawak issue will not go away unless there’s a final resolution one way or another. In the absence of a final resolution, the security of both Sabah and Sarawak will continue to be compromised and thereby affect investor and consumer confidence.  

Singapore Application would be a continuation of Pulau Batu Putih case

If Singapore is featured as well at the same time that the cases of Sabah and Sarawak are considered, it would amount to a revisitation of the Pulau Batu Putih hearings which saw the island of a few rocks being awarded to the city state.

The Singapore Application could be made by the Government of that island or vide a Class Action Suit commenced by concerned citizens seeking closure on an issue which has bedevilled relations on both sides of the causeway since 1965.

The descendants of the nine heirs of the defunct Sulu Sultanate claim that they have private property rights to Sabah or parts of it. They further claim and/or used to claim that sovereignty over Sabah rests with the Philippines Government. This is a grey area since one Sulu Sultan apparently “transferred” his sultanate’s sovereignty over Sabah to the Manila Government by way of a Power of Attorney which has reportedly since expired.

Jamalul Kiram III claims to be Sultan of Sulu.

Sulu claimants, Nur Misuari don’t have a leg to stand on in Sabah, Sarawak

At last count there were some 60 claimants to the Sulu Sultanship, not all being descendants of the nine heirs of the defunct Sulu Sultanate.

The nine Plaintiffs viz. Dayang Dayang Piandao Kiram, Princess Tarhata Kiram, Princess Sakinur Kiram, Sultan Ismael Kiram, Sultan Punjungan Kiram, Sitti Rada Kiram, Sitti Jahara Kiram, Sitti Mariam Kiram and Mora Napsa were recognised by C. F. Mackasie, Chief Judge of Borneo, on 13 Dec, 1939 in response to Civil Suit No. 169/39.

The Judge ruled that the nine heirs, as the beneficiaries under the will of the late Sultan Jamalul Kiram, who died at Jolo on 7 June 1935, are entitled to collect a total of RM 5,300 per annum from Sabah in perpetuity for having foregone in perpetuity the right to collect tolls along the waterways in eastern Sabah. The reference point was the deed of cession made between the Sultan of Sulu and the predecessors of the British North Borneo Chartered Company on Jan 22, 1878, and under a confirmatory deed dated April 22, 1903.

If the descendants of the nine heirs end up at the ICJ in The Hague, there are no prizes for guessing which way the case will go.

The Sulu claimants don’t have a leg to stand on in Sabah.

Nur Misuari ready to do battle with a battery of lawyers

The Sulu Sultans of old were extorting tolls, virtually a criminal activity, from the terrified traffic along the eastern seaboard of Sabah. The Brunei Sultanate meanwhile denies ever handing any part of Sabah, or the right to collect tolls along the waterways, to Sulu.

The British North Borneo Chartered Company had no right whatsoever to enter into negotiations on behalf of the people of Sabah with anyone.

The entire land area of Sabah, by history, Adat and under Native Customary Rights (NCR), belonged to the Orang Asal (Original People) of the Territory.

The sovereignty of Sabah rests with the people of Sabah. This sovereignty was re-affirmed on 31 Aug, 1963 when the state won independence from Britain which had occupied the state after World War II. Therein the matter lies. The sovereignty of Sabah had never been transferred to Brunei, Sulu, the Philippines, Britain or Malaya, masquerading as Malaysia since 16 Sept, 1963.

Likewise, Sarawak’s independence was re-affirmed on 22 July, 1963 when the British left. Sarawak had been an independent country for over 150 years under its own Rajah until World War II intervened and the Japanese occupied the country. The war over, the British coerced the Rajah to hand over his country to the Colonial Office in London because they had plans to form the Federation of Malaysia with Sarawak as one of the constituent elements. British occupation of Sarawak was illegal and an act of piracy.

Nur Misuari claims that Sarawak had belonged to his family, from the time of his great great grandfather. He claims that he has the services of the best lawyers at his disposal to make his case at The Hague.

Cobbold Commission a scam by British and Malayan Governments

The outcome of any hearing at The Hague will be a forgone conclusion: the Sulu and Nur Misuari petitions will be struck out without even a hearing; the Court will rule that the people of Sabah and Sarawak never agreed to be in Malaysia; and Singapore will hear that its expulsion from Malaysia in 1965 was unconstitutional, unlawful and illegal. The people of Sabah and Sarawak must be given the right to intervene in the Applications at the ICJ which will determine their fate. There’s nothing to prevent the people of Sulu and the southern Philippines from throwing in an Application that the Philippines Government has no business to occupy their traditional Muslim homeland.

The people of Singapore decided in a Yes or Note Vote in 1962 to the idea of independence through merger with Malaya via the Federation of Malaysia. The inclusion of Orang Asal-majority Sabah, Sarawak and Brunei was to facilitate the merger between Chinese-majority Singapore and non-Malay majority Malaya.

Brunei stayed out of Malaysia at the 11th hour after an armed rebellion in the Sultanate against the idea of Sabah, Sarawak and Brunei being in Malaysia.

No Referendum was held in Sabah, Sarawak, Brunei and Malaya on Malaysia. The Kelantan Government even took the matter to Court.

A sampling of community leaders conducted by the Cobbold Commission found that only the Suluk and Bajau community leaders, perhaps sensing some personal benefits for themselves as proxies of Muslim-controlled Kuala Lumpur, agreed with the idea of Malaysia.

Revolution another possibility to finish off Sulu, Nur Misuari, Manila

Orang Asal community leaders wanted a period of independence before looking at the idea of Malaysia again. They asked for further and better particulars on Malaysia to be used as the reference point for a future re-visitation of the Malaysia Concept. They were not provided these further and better particulars.

The Chinese community leaders, keeping the eventual fate of the resources and revenues of the country uppermost in mind, totally rejected the idea of Malaysia. They were not wrong. Putrajaya today carts away all the resources and revenues of Sabah and Sarawak to Malaya and very little of it comes back to the two Borneo.

The Cobbold Commission disingenuously declared that two third of the people in Sabah i.e. Suluk/Bajau + Orang Asal supported Malaysia. The Commission made the same declaration in Sarawak where only the Sarawak Malay community leaders supported the idea of Malaysia for self-serving reasons.

When Singapore was expelled from Malaysia, Sabah and Sarawak – the facilitators of the merger between Singapore and Malaya – were not allowed to exit the Federation. This is a crucial point which will feature at the ICJ.

Security became an afterthought. But as the continuing influx of illegal immigrants into Sabah and Sarawak, and the Lahad Datu intrusion, has proven, there has been no security for both Borneo nations in Malaysia. ESSCOM (Eastern Sabah Security Command) and ESSZONE (Eastern Sabah Safety Zone) comes too little too late, after 50 years.

In the unlikely event that the ICJ rules in favour of the heirs of the defunct Sulu Sultanate and Nur Misuari, it would be the sacred duty of Sabahans and Sarawakians to launch a Revolution and decapitate all the claimants to their countries from the Philippines.

This would bury the issue once and for all and shut up the Manila press and the Philippines Government.

Singapore’s re-admission to Malaysia, if it materialises, would not persuade Sabah and Sarawak to join the Federation as well. The people would want Malaya even quicker out Sabah and Sarawak. It would be the end of a long drawn out nightmare.

 

Joe Fernandez is a graduate mature student of law and an educationist, among others, who loves to write especially Submissions for Clients wishing to Act in Person. He feels compelled, as a semi-retired journalist, to put pen to paper — or rather the fingers to the computer keyboard — whenever something doesn’t quite jell with his weltanschauung (worldview). He shuttles between points in the Golden Heart of Borneo formed by the Sabah west coast, Labuan, Brunei, northern Sarawak and the watershed region in Borneo where three nations meet.


An oil producing offshore area, Block M and Block L belonging to Sabah near Brunei in the South China Sea is no longer a part of Sabah. It now belongs to Brunei. This Block M and Block L is close to 6000 square kilometers in size, which is like 10 times the size of Singapore. Both the blocks can produce 1 billion barrels of oil  or US$100 billion in revenue and it belongs to Sabah.

Our Chief Minister from Sabah, Musa Aman together with Abdullah Ahmad Badawi negotiated with the Sultan of Brunei to get back Limbang for Sarawak, in exchange they agreed to surrender this Block M and Block L belonging to Sabah. Can you believe this? Yes, Musa Aman with Badawi,  on march 17th, 2009 in Brunei, had signed away US100 billion dollars of oil to the Sultan of Brunei.

And this was not brought up at all by Musa Aman to the Sabah State Legislative Assembly. More importantly by giving up the Blocks L and M, both Musa  Aman and Pak Lah were altering the boundaries to Sabah, and the Constitution under Clause 2 (b) provides that this will require the consent of the state and as well as the Conference of Rulers.

To give away or demarcate boundaries of Borneo States, Badawi must first consult Parliament, then under the Federation Agreement with Sabah, Badawi must ask Musa Aman to convene an emergency sitting of the Sabah State Legislative Assembly and then take a vote in the  State Assembly. Musa Aman did not just do that.  Musa Aman concealed this whole thing, Brunei, Block M and Block L from Sabahans. This Musa Aman, did not bring this matter to the State Assembly at all and why was he hiding this from Sabahans? Musa Aman owes Sabahans and explanation.

Besides, only if  Sabah had cleared this matter in the assembly, then only, can this be brought to the Agong for a royal consent to the demarcation of the new boundaries. The Conference of Rulers MUST also agree and that too has to come BEFORE the signing of the Agreement with Brunei. But they did not.

Then why was Pak Lah and Musa Aman in a hurry to sign the Agreement with the Sultan? Why the rush? Pak Lah says he has got the approval from his Cabinet and so everything is in order. But is this true? Was the  process done constitutionally, as per the Federation Agreement?

To me this is like TREASON! Musa Aman  should be charged for Treason for concealing, hiding or aiding the crime of TREASON. Musa Aman concealed this action from the Sabah State Assembly, and for any public servant To conceal, hide, or aid the crime of TREASON is to be guilty of the same offence.

The facts are :

1. Malaysia, Sabah no longer has any sovereignty over the 2 areas i.e Block L and Block M.
2. Malaysian oil companies can only participate in jointly developing the areas for 40 years (with Brunei’s permission).
3. Limbang remains a disputed area with Brunei.

I stand by my opinion that Musa Aman and  Abdullah  Badawi should be tried for Treachery and TREASON for losing territory belonging to Sabah, Malaysia.

Then if  the KL boys were to say that the Blocks L & M are not within the Sabah State waters and therefore under the purview of the Federal Government, then I will say, why this not brought to Parliament, and not brought to The Agong, and then to the Conference of Rulers, as we are after all altering the boundaries of the federation? Is it because it comes under the Federal Territory of LABUAN?

Explain lah!

Dato’ Sri Anifah bin Haji Aman, the Malaysian Minister of Foreign Affairs the brother of Chief Minister Datuk Musa Aman, you are the right person, please explain? You and your brother claim fighting for Sabah’s rights, show us lah! Sorry Anifah I have to bring you into this picture although you are just recuperating from a massive attack following surgery to clear blocked arteries in your heart. I hear you are recovering well following coronary bypass surgery in Singapore. I wish you speedy recovery my friend!

Read here my earlier post on this.


I remember during Mahathir’s time the Federal government was trying to sell part of Limbang to the Sultanate of Brunei behind close doors. Somehow the news leaked. There was so much opposition from all quarters during that period of time that the Federal government had no choice but to abort the deal. Never cross my mind, that while everyone one was watching Limbang so closely there was another deal which was struck right under our noses. This time it was a territory belonging to Sabah and not Sarawak and the beneficiary Brunei. An age-old conspiracy was being consummated right under our nose.

See Map below. Block L and Block M belongs to Sabah, Malaysia.

On September 28th, 2003,  there was a production sharing contract for Block L and Block M between U S based Murphy Oil Corp and our Petronas Carigali Sdn Bhd for 250,000-300,000 bpd with a life span of between 15 to 20 years.

But on Wednesday  April 21, 2010, Murphy Oil Corp on its website said Petroliam Nasional Bhd (Petronas) has terminated the production sharing contracts for Blocks L and M as they “are no longer a part of Malaysia”.

It seems Murphy Oil Corp was informed by Petronas following the execution of the exchange of letters between Malaysia and Brunei on March 16, 2009, that the offshore exploration areas designated as Block L and Block M were no longer a part of Malaysia.

“As a consequence, the production sharing contracts covering Blocks L and M, awarded in 2003 to Petronas Carigali Sdn Bhd and Murphy, were formally terminated by letter dated April 7, 2010,” Murphy Oil Corp said.

Wow, how did this happen? How come the Federal Government can give away its territory without the knowledge of its citizens. Can they do it? These two blocks Block M and Block L is close to 6000 square Kilometers. These two blocks can produce 250,000-300,000 bpd and has a life span of between 15 to 20 years. This works out to RM1.19 billion a year and RM17.85 billion over the lifespan of these two blocks. This works out to USD20.5 million or RM65.6 million per day in revenue!

With oil royalty for Sabah at 5%, this means Sabah will lose out RM3.28 million a day.

I am truly shocked. What is actually happening here? Is there a side deal between our politicians and the Brunei Sultanate?

I hate to sound melodramatic but unfortunately the truth may be very bizarre. I want to be wrong because if I am not, it means that the forces responsible for the abuse of power, corruption and you name it, of the last 22 years are still in charge.

What has Musa Aman The Chief Minister of Sabah got to say about this? Come on Musa say something? Are you suffering from a strange fecklessness when it comes to UMNO and the Federal Government  and Sabah’s oil?

Read Here what my good friend from Penang, Romerz got to say about this whole thing..

Read HereThe Government of Brunei’s official website on the Petroleum Concession Areas.

Read Here Murphy Oil Corp’s Termination of Contract For Block M and Block L in Malaysia.


The Pulau Batu Puteh Predicament: A Preliminary Study of Malaysian Media Coverage

Azliana Abdul Aziz, Vilashini Somiah, Azizah Hamzah

& Mohd Yahya Mohamed Ariffin

Abstract

The media plays a very significant role in keeping diplomatic ties between countries strong. The media is strongly responsible for covering issues as ethically and as unbiased as possible in order to deliver the news right. In May of 2008, the International Court of Justice had ruled that Singapore would be given sovereignty over Pulau Batu Puteh (also known in English as Pedra Branca), ending the 28-year old territorial dispute between Malaysia and Singapore over the isle no larger than half a football field. Though the verdict brought about much mixed reactions from both parties, this research will only focus on the Malaysian news coverage given on the issue. The methodology for this research will be a qualitative one, in which the researchers will conduct interviews with relevant parties as well as evaluate random sampling of news materials that focused on the Pulau Batu Puteh incident in 2008. The researchers also aim to investigate how mediated political issues are presented and how it can affect its readers from Malaysia and Singapore alike.

Key words: Malaysia-Singapore news, political communication, Pulau Batu Puteh

Introduction

The issue of sovereignty over Pedra Branca or Pulau Batu Puteh (literally meaning ‘White Rock’), an island with an area of about 8,560 square metres, between Malaysia and Singapore, crystallized on 14th February 1980. The issue of sovereignty was brought to attention when Singapore protested against the publication in 1979 by Malaysia of a map depicting the island as lying within Malaysia’s territorial waters. 13 years later, on the 6th February 1993 it was followed up by the dispute as to sovereignty over Middle Rocks and South Ledge. This dispute was then brought to the International Court of Justice (The ICJ) to be settled. The only form of development found on this island located between the Singapore Straits and South China Sea is the Horsburgh Lighthouse, built by the British somewhere between 1850 and 1851 without seeking consent from any party as Malaya was under ruling of the British.

Both countries made endless efforts to stake their claim over Pulau Batu Puteh. Ralph Haller-Trost (1993) wrote in his book Historical legal claims: a study of disputed sovereignty over Pulau Batu Puteh (Pedra Branca), that Malaysia had historically tried to prove that the island belonged to them for almost 400 years.

Pulau Batu Puteh and Middle Rocks

Source: http://www.thestar.com.my

Malaysia argued that the Sultan of Johore had exercised sovereignty over the rock since 1513 when the Johore-Riau-Lingga Sultanate was founded by Sultan Mahmud…According to the Malaysian view, based on the Theory of State Succession, Pulau Batu Puteh belongs to the Federation of Malaysia because it was part of the Federation of Malaya into which in turn the sultanate of Johore was amalgamated when it joined the newly formed independent state in 1957” (Haller-Trost, 1993).

However, Singapore claimed that the presence of the Horsburgh Lighthouse, built by the British, was enough to prove that the island belonged to them. Singapore was entitled to inherit everything that was left behind after independence.

Singapore on the other hand, maintains that it has full territorial sovereignty and jurisdiction over the rock due to the Anglo-Dutch Treaty, and of the HEIC (Honourable East India Company) whose legal successor Singapore is-had built a lighthouse thereon and maintained it since 1851. No government authority (neither Johore nor Malaysia) had up to 1979 objected against this status, or had made any claim to the contrary. It therefore considers the rock being legally part of its territory” (Haller-Trost, 1993).

On the 23rd of May 2008, after a 29-year territorial dispute, the ICJ ruled that Pedra Branca was under Singapore’s sovereignty. In the official press release by the ICJ handed out on the very same day, it was mentioned “The Court finds that Singapore has sovereignty over Pedra Branca/Pulau Batu Puteh; that Malaysia has sovereignty over Middle Rocks; and that sovereignty over South Ledge belongs to the State in the territorial waters of which it is located.” (cite ICJ press release) The ruling in which decides the exact sovereignty of South Ledge has yet to be resolved.

The ICJ went on to explain that the reason for their decision was based on the fact that “Malaysia did not respond to Singapore’s conduct on the island, including the flying of its ensign, except for the republic’s installation of naval communication equipment”. (Site the star three reasons why island went to sing). The ICJ also pointed out that the Johor authorities and their successors took no action at all on the island beginning June 1850 for the whole of the following century onwards.

Distance from Pulau Batu Puteh and Singapore and Malaysia respectively

Source: http://www.malaysiakini.com

Objective of study

This paper looks into the coverage given by the Malaysian press on the debate over the sovereignty of Pulau Batu Puteh/ Pedra Branca and its subsequent referral to the ICJ, focusing more so on written articles either printed or online. The reporting was inspected for the utilisation of the media for diplomatic or political motive, seeing as the long-standing territorial dispute offered a prime opportunity to employ the media as a political or diplomatic instrument on top of its original role of informing the public.

Theoretical Framework

In undergoing this research two forms of communication were mainly utilised in the analysis of the Malaysian media coverage concerning the dispute. The first of which, being that of mediated political communication and secondly the form of mediated diplomatic communication or media diplomacy (Gilboa, 2002). All the articles looked into during the course of this research were scrutinised for evidence of media diplomacy, the extent of its usage and what it entails.

Firstly, the characteristics of political communication is defined in terms of the intentions of its senders (McNair, 2003)

The crucial factor that makes communication ‘political’ is not the source of a message [or we might add referring back to their earlier emphasis on ‘public discussion’, its form] but its content and purpose” (Denton & Woodward, 1990)

McNair (2003) also establishes that a democratic media is needed in order to achieve objectivity in mediated political discourse. A democratic media must inform, educate on the significance or meaning of the facts, provide a platform for public discourse for ‘public opinion’ to emerge and later generate that opinion back to the public, who should be made available to information regarding those in power (the acts of whoever in supreme power made available for public scrutiny) and finally serve as a channel for the advocacy of political viewpoints.

Mediated political communications have of late, grown vastly in importance and poses as a substantial influencing medium towards public opinion. Seemingly it is the precise fact that opinions form the core of political communications that presents problems in objectivity (Bennet & Entman, 2001). However, from surveys held through audience analysis, it may be concluded that though broadcast coverage may contribute in a small way towards viewers’ preference of political candidates, it is the level of knowledge and personal interest in politics that an individual has, that ultimately governs his/her opinions (Traudt, 2005).

This brings us to the question of objectivity. Though it is often debated that complete objectivity could be something of an impossible task, as more often than not a writer’s personality or views will unconsciously be reflected within the written script, the attempt at writing objectively, putting forth facts without favouring a certain side of an argument or ellipsing information to elicit mediation, is still a task that many journalists strive to undertake. The result, is an, if not completely objective report, a report which endeavours to put forth uncensored factual information.

Journalism in Malaysia and Singapore has always been conceived to be restricted, and this year, they have held very close positions in the freedom of press rankings. In the eyes of the world, press freedom for both countries is seen as controlled and constricting. Ranking at number 143 and 145 respectively, out of 195 countries in the 2009 Freedom of Press World Ranking (Freedom House) with the bottom 64 countries, considered as having no press freedom, it is an obvious conclusion that the rest of the world views the freedom of press for both countries as severely lacking. This is a result of the legal boundaries upon both nations’ media, and these same boundaries can be seen most diligently observed in political reporting.

An alternative to the mainstream media is through the medium of new media, such as political blogs and online news groups. For Malaysia, this has proved to be promising, as recent findings from a Freedom House survey that charted the online freedom of fifteen selected countries, stated that Malaysian online freedom is ‘partly-free’ obtaining a moderate rating of 40 with a rating of 0 being completely free and 100 being not free (Freedom House).

Eytan Gilboa (2002), in the article Global Communication and Foreign Policy, has devised a table to illustrate the four different types of actors, called the ‘Taxonomy of Actors and Concepts’.

Source: Gilboa, 2002

Here, Gilboa formulised a systematic approach to analysing global communication by breaking it up into different categories of actors and its specific role. In completing this research, Gilboa’s theories were adopted and transplanted to cover the geographically smaller context of Malaysia and Singapore. With the Malaysian media, due to the constraints of the law, it is not possible for the mainstream to adopt the role of the controlling actor, where the media acts independently and has the power to swing public opinion and pressure government into acting as they believe fit (Gilboa, 2002). Online media may have the freedom to mildly tread in those waters but they do not command as much public attention as does the mainstream. In the case of Pulau Batu Puteh, the media generally emulated the role of the instrumental actor, following the concept of media diplomacy (Gilboa, 2002).

Media diplomacy has been defined as the ‘uses of the media by leaders to express interest in negotiation, to build confidence and to mobilise public support for agreements’ (Gilboa, 2002). In the press coverage of Pulau Batu Puteh, most if not all of the information broadcast had been received from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or during press conferences at negotiations between the two countries. There were even articles published in the newspapers written by the diplomatic players themselves. Most notably, one that was written by the then Minister of Foreign Affairs himself, Dato’ Seri Utama Dr.Rais Yatim (2008).

Research findings

In order to go deeper into the reporting from both the mainstream media and its new media counterpart, an interview was conducted with a sample practitioner of citizen journalism and the Media Secretary for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs who was virtually the gatekeeper for all that was reported in the mainstream media. As mentioned earlier, most of the work was carried out on written articles as this is only a research paper, and it would prove to be an insufficient vehicle if all other forms of broadcast were to be incorporated instead of conducting only textual analysis.

Coverage on the long-standing dispute was extensive, and in the days leading up to the verdict, there was at least one article per day regarding the situation. However the vast majority of what was reported from each of the big four newspapers in Malaysia, New Straits Times (NST), The Star, Utusan Malaysia and Berita Harian, was mainly reiterated facts drummed in again and again and did not vary by way of content from one news desk to the next. This in turn, led to the conclusion that information from all was obtained from only one source.

The mainstream media was also an instrumental tool in promoting relations between the two countries by giving exposure on the negotiations between both countries and the joint committee put together prior to the verdict to facilitate negotiations once the right to sovereignty was concluded. To assist in the research, articles on the event were divided into three sections. The first covers the period before the verdict, the second nearing the date of the verdict and the deliberations by ICJ and the third covering the post-hearing period. Press interest was at its height in the second section with coverage of the first and third on a somewhat equal status.

A pattern swiftly emerged upon the division of the articles. It was noted that the tone or morale of the information extended was significantly more positive and confident during the first period with article titles claiming ‘Rais confident of positive verdict over Batu Puteh’ and ‘Verdict over Pulau Batu Puteh will be in our favour’. Nearing the verdict however, a more tentative approach was adopted, where reports were published on negotiations and the establishment of a joint committee between the two countries to handle all actions pertaining to the territory in question (Zakaria Abdul Wahab, Singapore, Malaysia Will Accept Any Decision On Pulau Batu Puteh By ICJ – George Yeo, 2008) (Batu Putih: Malaysia – Singapura tubuh jawatankuasa bersama, 2008). Immediately after the verdict however, there was an attempt to draw focus to the fact that Malaysia had soverignty of Middle Rocks whilst downplaying the loss of Pulau Batu Puteh, by claiming it to be a win-win situation (Rais: Decision on island is a win-win situation, 2008) and rallying public support by suggesting expanditure of said island (New Dimension to Middle Rocks, 2008).

When asked as to the nature of the pattern and whether or not it was a deliberate diplomatic tactic, Edward Jules Savarimuthu, Media Secretary to the Foreign Minister of Malaysia and Media Strategist for the Pulau Batu Puteh case, claimed that, “There was no deliberate strategy that was tabled to preserve the good relations with our contesting neighbour back then. It just came out directy from the stove as fast as it was cooked, in reference to the media strategy” however he also acknowledged that, “we [Malaysia] came mid-stream when the case was already upstream, so much of what went around came in various level of deflection or rather deception. It was purely a case of “if you can’t convince them, confuse them“” in reference to deflecting negative press in the aftermath of the hearing (Savarimuthu, 2009).

However following the verdict, there was a brief period before the press continued its role in media diplomacy in early June, where criticism of the government’s administration of the case was broadcast to the public. These articles attributed the loss to the negligence of the Malaysian government and the Johor State in the past. The more condemning of these articles were those that appeared online, claiming Malaysia was lackadaisical in exercising their rights (Savarimuthu, 2009). These examples show evidence of the Malaysian media’s ability to take on the role of ‘constraining actor’, where “global news coverage may disrupt the routine policy making process … and whereas leaders may have to reorder priorities, they don’t feel forced to follow a particular policy called for by the media or implied by coverage” (Gilboa, 2002). In this case it merely means that the Malaysian media, primarily new media, is able to influence in some way the future conduct of its government. The advantage of online news as an advocate of the role of ‘constraining actor’ lies in its swiftness as “global communication constrains the policy process primarily through the high speed of broadcasting and transmitting information” (Gilboa, 2002).

At times though, the online news channels are considered to be a threat to national peace since it can cast doubts on the integrity and reliability of its personnel and those in high office” (Savarimuthu, 2009) in the instance of the Pulau Batu Puteh incident however, this can be considered to be a moot point as there was very little information on the case made public to explain the loss of the island. “Malaysia did not handle the case as per expected. Singapore had, from the start, the expertise and documents that Malaysia did not have. Had we known this from the media, we would have been able to understand better” (Somiah, 2009).

Conclusion

Regarding the issue, and its subsequent media attention, it can be concluded that the role of the Malaysian media was predominantly, through ‘media diplomacy’ with a brief vignette as the ‘constraining actor’ played mostly via new media. In order for the Malaysian media both mainstream and otherwise to grow to encompass both controlling and constraining actor roles, the tightly drawn strings of the law must first be loosened. However, this begets a whole slew of debates and diatribes from the two camps, those who believe the country is ready and those who deem it still immature.

In reference to the ‘media diplomacy’ portrayed during the Pulau Batu Puteh predicament, from the articles collected, in depth information regarding the islet, especially historical facts prior to the year 1979, which held most of the damning evidence that lead to the loss was not made public. Though it can be argued that the information was highly classified as it was still an ongoing court hearing, (Savarimuthu, 2009) the information was still kept under wraps after the hearing was over, and the allusions to the 1953 letter from the Johor Sultanate mirrors the instances when the media or political figures referr to the May 13 incident. An occurance everybody knows about but few know what it really is. In this respect, both interviewees agreed on one point that “there is a very thin line between diplomacy and hypocrisy” (Savarimuthu, 2009)

There is a very grey area between keeping the information on a need-to-know basis and deliberately withholding intelligence from the public. For the media to practice diplomatic communication successfully and still adhere to the journalistic codes, it is imperative that the truth and abundance of information is never discounted. At the end of it all, “the media is responsible for telling the truth and truth should not be hindered at the expense of diplomacy. By telling us the truth, the media will be able to help us realise our faults and this is beneficial in the long run” (Somiah, 2009).

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Dahlgren, P. (2001). The Public Sphere and the Net: Structure, Space and Communication. In W.

Davis, A. (2007). The Mediation of Power: A Critical Introduction. New York, United States of America: Routledge.

Denton, R. E., & Woodward, G. C. (1990). Political Communication in America. Westport: Praeger.

Gilboa, E. (2002). Global Communication and Foreign Policy. (M. Cody, Ed.) Journal of Communication , 52 (4), 731-744.

Haller-Trost, R. (1993). Historical legal claims: a study of disputed sovereignty over Pulau Batu Puteh (Pedra Branca) (Vol. 1). Durham, United Kingdom: International Boundaries Research Unit.

Hassan, M. S., & Rahman, S. N. (2008). International Media News Coverage on Malaysia’s General Election in 1995 and 1999. (M. N. Osman, S. Z. Omar, H. Hassan, & N. Ismail, Eds.) Dimensions of Communication Malaysian Experience , 69-91.

McNair, B. (2003). An Introduction to Political Communication. London, England: Routledge.

Ming Ting. (2008). Singapore-Malaysia Relations: Beyond Realism. Australian Political Studies Association Conference. Brisbane: University of Adelaide.

Negrine, R., & Holtz-Bacha, C. (Eds.). (2007). The Profesionalisation of Political Communication. Changing Media, Changing Europe. 3. Chicago: Intellect Books.

Traudt, P. J. (2005). Media, Audiences Effects. Las Vegas: University of Nevada.

(2002, October 14). Asian Economic News , p. 19.

Newspaper References

(2003, May 5). New Straits Times , p. 22.

Batu Puteh berpihak kepada kita. (2008, May 16). Utusan Malaysia , p. 2.

Batu Puteh kembali kepada pemilik. (2008, May 23). Berita Harian , p. 10.

Batu Putih: Keputusan hari ini. (2008, May 23). Utusan Malaysia , pp. 1-2.

Batu Putih: Malaysia – Singapura tubuh jawatankuasa bersama. (2008, May 22). Utusan Malaysia , p. 1.

Batuan Tengah mungkin dicantumkan. (2008, June 3). Utusan Malaysia , pp. 1-2.

Cabinet approval needed. (2008, June 4). The Star .

Choi, T. W. (2008, May 22). Close call likely in ICJ verdict. The Star .

D-Day in fight for Batu Puteh. (2008, May 22). The Star , p. 10.

First meeting after Batu Puteh verdict. (2008, June 4). The Star , p. 12.

Keputusan Batu Putih Esok. (2008, May 22). Utusan Malaysia , p. 2.

New Dimension to Middle Rocks. (2008, June 4). New Straits Times .

Rais confident of positive verdict over Batu Puteh. (2008, May 16). The Star , p. 38.

Rais wants all islands noted. (2008, May 29). The Star , p. 16.

Rais Yatim. (2008, May 15). Pulau Batu Puteh: Past, present and future. New Straits Times , p. 24.

Rais: Verdict over Pulau Batu Puteh will be in our favour. (2008, May 16). New Straits Times .

Ridzam, D. (2008, May 29). Taking heed of the lesson bitterly learnt. New Straits Times , p. 22.

Tay, G. (2008, May 23). Long wait for verdict on island. The Star , p. 24.

Zulkifli Jalil. (2008, April 17). Keputusan P. Batu Putih bulan depan? Utusan Malaysia , p. 13.

Online References

AFP. (2008, April 30). Keputusan batu Putih. Retrieved December 2, 2009, from Utusan Online: http://www.utusanonline.com.my

Bernama. (2008, May 5). Rais to have audience with Johor Sultan over Pulau Batu Puteh. Retrieved December 2, 2009, from Bernama: http://www.bernama.com

Freedom House. (n.d.). Freedom of the Press 2009: Table of Global Press Freedom Rankings. Retrieved December 2, 2009, from freedomhouse.org: http://www.freedomhouse.org/uploads/fop/2009/FreedomofthePress2009_tables.pdf

Press Release: Sovereignty over Pedra Branca/Pulau Batu Puteh, Middle Rocks and South Ledge. (2008, May 23). Retrieved December 2, 2009, from International Court of Justice: http://www.icj-cij.org

Rais: Decision on island is a win-win situation. (2008, May 24). Retrieved December 2, 2009, from The Star Online`: http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2008/5/24/nation/21355872&sec=nation

Singapore takes Pulau Batu Puteh, Malaysia gets Middle Rocks. (2008, May 23). Retrieved December 2, 2009, from The Star Online: http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2008/5/23/nation/20080523184425&sec=nation

Three reasons why island went to Singapore. (2008, May 24). Retrieved December 2, 2009, from The Star Online: http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2008/5/24/nation/21354853&sec=nation

Zakaria Abdul Wahab. (2008, April 17). Singapore, Malaysia Will Accept Any Decision On Pulau Batu Puteh By ICJ – George Yeo. Retrieved December 2, 2009, from Bernama: http://www.bernama.com

Zakaria Abdul Wahab. (2008, April 17). Singapura dan Malaysia Terima Apa Jua Keputusan Mengenai Pulau Batu Puteh Oleh ICJ. Retrieved December 2, 2009, from Bernama: http://www.bernama.com

Interviews

Savarimuthu, E. J. (2009, December 3). Interview with the Media Secretary to the former Foreign Minister of Malaysia- Honourable Minister Datuk Seri Utama Dr.Rais Yatim . (A. Aziz, Interviewer)

Somiah, S. (2009, December 3). Interview with citizen journalism practitioner. (A. Aziz, Interviewer)


Information, Communications and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim today advised bloggers against writing untruths and touching on personal matters. He said those writing untruths would be penalised under the Communications and Multimedia Act.They can criticise the government but if they write untruths then we will take action under the Communications (and Multimedia) Act, he said.”

By the way Datuk, are you going to act on Utusan Malaysia for asking the Malays to rise against the non-Malays in the article “Bangkitlah Melayu”? See here what Utusan Malaysia wrote yesterday.

Datuk, I dare you to take action against Utusan for constantly publishing racist and seditious stuff to incite fear and racial tension against the peace loving citizens of this country.

Datuk, as far as I am concern, if you are unable to even lift your little finger on Utusan, you will only remind me of “Bagdad Bob” Saddam Hussein’s Minister of Misinformation the most visible and colorful Iraqi official during the invasion of Iraq in 2003, until a day before the fall of Baghdad on April 9 of that year, when he vanished.

For your info, much of the information given by Al Sahhaf during the Iraq war was clearly inaccurate. However, for several weeks, Al Sahhaf enthralled world media with statements such as, “the Iraqi army is sending back the ‘Oulouj’ (the mercenaries) in body bags … back to where they had crawled from,” and “there are no American infidels in Baghdad,” at a time when American tanks were pouring into the Iraqi capital.

I hope you don’t end up to be like  Al Sahhaf.

Anyway Datuk, what about “white” lies, and “half truth”, how are you, your Ministry and your cybertroopers in Umno going to differentiate them?

The whole of  Internet consist of truths, half truths, untruths, black/white/ grey lies;  it is the individual who must sieve the chaff from the grain in order to get to the truth. Datuk I hate to say this, I doubt you are competent to talk about net/bloging.

Anyway, Malaysians are not stupid and they can very well differentiate and separate truth and outright lies.

Datuk, I  remember when we lost Pulau Batu Putih (PEDRA BRANCA) unjustly due to technical reasons, you said, its a WIN WIN situation for both Malaysia and Singapore, Malaysians knew you were spinning the truth. You are good!