Malaysia to build island in waters near Singapore

May 30, 2018
The Singapore Strait is one of the world's busiest commercial shipping routes and vital to the city-state's economy

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said Wednesday he wants to develop an island on a cluster of rocks previously disputed with Singapore, a move that could anger its neighbour.

The strategically located area has long been a flashpoint between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore, and they previously took a territorial dispute to the United Nations top court.

The International Court of Justice in 2008 awarded two clusters, called Middle Rocks, to Malaysia while a nearby island was deemed to be Singaporean territory.

Malaysia launched a challenge to that ruling last year but Singapore's foreign ministry said Wednesday it had been withdrawn by Kuala Lumpur.

However, at the same time Mahathir announced Malaysia wanted to develop an island on Middle Rocks, at the eastern entrance of the strategic Singapore Strait.

The 100-kilometre (60-mile) strait is one of the world's busiest commercial shipping routes, with vessels using it to access the city-state's port.

"It is our intention to enlarge Middle Rocks into a small island for us," the 92-year-old—who started his second stint as premier this month after a surprise election win—told a press conference.

He gave no more details about what the proposed island would look like or how long it would take to build.

Mahathir added that Malaysia had already built a structure on Middle Rocks. Reports said Malaysia inaugurated a maritime base there last year.

James Chin, a Malaysia expert from the University of Tasmania, told AFP that Singapore would see the move as "hostile".

"Among the Singapore elite, they will see it as part of Mahathir's anti-Singapore stance," he said.

It came after Mahathir announced this week that he was scrapping a planned high-speed railway between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore, as he seeks to improve the nation's finances.

Both developments are likely to alarm the Singapore government, already wary of Mahathir's return as ties between the neighbours were famously stormy during his first stint as premier from 1981-2003.

Still, Kuala Lumpur's decision to drop its case at the ICJ could assuage fears.

Malaysia had lodged its challenge in February 2017, calling for the court to overturn its earlier ruling granting its neighbour sovereignty over the disputed island.

Explore further: MH370 search under review, may be scrapped: Mahathir

Related Stories

Mahathir raises 'remote takeover' theory in MH370 mystery

March 23, 2018

Malaysia's veteran ex-leader Mahathir Mohamad said Friday that missing flight MH370 might have been taken over remotely in a bid to foil a hijack, reviving one of the many conspiracy theories surrounding its disappearance.

Malaysia's Mahathir calls for Internet censorship

August 2, 2014

Former Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad has called for the Internet to be censored to preserve "public morality", in what the opposition suggested Saturday was an attempt to silence government critics.

Leader of failed MH370 wreckage hunt hopes to search again

May 29, 2018

The head of a U.S. technology company that scoured the Indian Ocean seabed for more than three months looking for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 said on Tuesday he was disappointed the hunt failed to find any wreckage and hoped ...

Second giant panda cub born in Malaysia

January 17, 2018

A giant panda loaned to Malaysia from China has given birth to a second cub during its stay in the Southeast Asian country, zoo officials said Wednesday.

Recommended for you

Permanent, wireless self-charging system using NIR band

October 8, 2018

As wearable devices are emerging, there are numerous studies on wireless charging systems. Here, a KAIST research team has developed a permanent, wireless self-charging platform for low-power wearable electronics by converting ...

Facebook launches AI video-calling device 'Portal'

October 8, 2018

Facebook on Monday launched a range of AI-powered video-calling devices, a strategic revolution for the social network giant which is aiming for a slice of the smart speaker market that is currently dominated by Amazon and ...

Artificial enzymes convert solar energy into hydrogen gas

October 4, 2018

In a new scientific article, researchers at Uppsala University describe how, using a completely new method, they have synthesised an artificial enzyme that functions in the metabolism of living cells. These enzymes can utilize ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.