Pakatan Harapan should be held responsible if it had neglected its duty by not pursuing a judicial review in the Pulau Batu Puteh legal dispute with Singapore while it was in power, said an Umno vice-president.
Mohamed Khaled Nordin made the call as he welcomed the government's move to set up a special task force to review laws related to the Pulau Batu Puteh case.
He said no explanation was given for the Harapan administration's decision in 2018 to not move forward with the judicial review proceedings at the International Court of Justice (ICJ).
"Such an important decision should be explained in Parliament in a transparent and responsible manner.
"It is very important for the task force to explain in its report the truth that led to the then government's decision to withdraw the judicial review," Khaled said in a statement today.
Rakyat needs to know
The former Johor menteri besar pointed out that the people had the right to know if negligence was involved and who should be held accountable for the failure to proceed with the judicial review of the case.
"Other nations are dying to defend even an inch of their homeland, but the Harapan government just gave up every effort in defending the sovereignty of Pulau Batu Puteh without any scrutiny and accountability.
"Such action is a neglect of duty of the highest order. They should be held responsible if they were careless and reckless on matters of national interest," Khaled added.
Yesterday, Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob announced a special task force on Pulau Batu Puteh which will be headed by former attorney-general Mohamed Apandi Ali.
Ismail Sabri said the cabinet will also seek legal advice under the "Tort of Misfeasance" against those who are found to have been negligent for not pursuing a judicial review of the case.
The main rocky outcrop, no more than half the size of a football field, is known as Pulau Batu Puteh in Malaysia and Pedra Branca in Singapore. It is located about 15km off Peninsular Malaysia’s southern coast.
The two neighbouring countries have been engaged in a decades-long legal dispute since 1979 when Malaysia published a map indicating Pulau Batu Puteh was within its territorial waters.
The ICJ in 2008 ruled in favour of Singapore in the territorial dispute over the island.
In late May 2018, following the 14th general election victory of the Harapan coalition, the then government led by former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad withdrew its review application against the ruling by the UN's highest court.
The Singaporean government reportedly said it was “happy” that Malaysia informed the ICJ on May 28 that year that it would be withdrawing the review application.