Singapore belonged to Johor and should be returned to the state and Malaysia, said former two-time Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad.
"We should demand not just that Pedra Branca, or Pulau Batu Puteh, be returned to us, instead we should also demand for the return of Singapore and the Riau Islands to Malaysia as Malay lands," said the 96-year-old MP for Langkawi in a speech on Sunday (19 June). His comments drew applause from his audience.
Historically, Malay lands stretched from the Isthmus of Kra in southern Thailand to the Riau Islands, according to Dr Mahathir, whose speech was uploaded online by Astro Awani.
"But today, we are left with only the peninsula... I wonder whether we will continue to own this peninsula. I am worried for the future of Malays, whether the peninsula land will also be owned by another party," he added.
The reason for this future possibility is that the Malays are poor and those who are poor cannot enforce their rights, said Dr Mahathir.
Already, half of Malaysian land is owned by foreigners, he claimed in his speech titled Melayu dan Kelangsungan Bangsa (Malays and National Continuity).
"Many Malays are not aware that their country which once used to be big has become small. And even this small country they will lose because they are poor," he added.
Dr Mahathir was speaking at the event Aku Melayu: Survival Bermula (I'm Malay: Survival Begins) in Selangor. It was organised by Kongres Survival Melayu (Congress for Malay Survival), a grouping of several NGOs.
In 2008, the International Court of Justice awarded Pedra Branca to Singapore. Malaysia applied for a review of the judgment in 2017 but withdrew the review application a year later after Dr Mahathir became prime minister for the second time.