Former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad has said that Malaysia should demand Singapore, the Riau Islands, Pedra Branca, and Pulau Batu Puteh be returned to the country as “Malay lands”.
He made this remark during a speech on 19 June during an event organized by a number of non-governmental organizations under ‘Kongres Survival Melayu’ (Congress for Malay Survival) banner, which was titled ‘Aku Melayu: Survival Bermula’ (I am Malay: Survival Begins).
“We should demand not just that Pedra Branca, or Pulau Batu Puteh, be given back to us, we should also demand Singapore as well as the Riau Islands, as they are ‘Tanah Melayu’ (Malay lands),” he said.
Speaking on the “return” of Singapore to Malaysia, he said that “there is no demand whatsoever of Singapore”.
“Instead, we show our appreciation to the leadership of this new country called Singapore,” he affirmed.
Adding on to his controversial statement, Mahathir talked on the ownerships of the Pedra Branca island as well as the Sipadan and Ligitan islands.
In 2002, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled that Malaysia held sovereignty over the Sipadan and Ligitan islands, while it ruled in 2008 that Pedra Branca belonged to Singapore.
Commenting on Pedra Branca, Mahathir said it was only like a “piece of rock the size of a table”.
In 2017, Malaysia appealed to the ICJ to reverse its judgment on the ownership of Pedra Branca, but after Mahathir became prime minister again in May 2018, he announced that the proceedings would be halted.
Keep the lands Malay
During the speech, Mahathir said that the lands constituting ‘Tanah Melayu’ had originally been extensive, stretching all the way from the Isthmus of Kra in Southern Thailand all the way down to Singapore.
However, over the years, it has reduced to only include the Malay Peninsula. He then wondered if peninsula itself would end up belonging to another entity in the future.
“I wonder whether we will continue to own the peninsula,” he said.
“I am worried for the future of Malays, whether the peninsula land will also be owned by another party.”
He then said that today’s Malaysia isn’t owned by the Bumiputeras any longer due to the Malays remaining poor and being forced to sell their lands.
“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 said.
Thus, he urge the crowd to learn from past mistakes, and said that it was necessary for continued Malay sovereignty.
“If we find we were wrong, we should rectify these wrongs so that our land remains Malay land,” he said.
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