As Mackzul turns his back on blogsphere, Sufi Yusoff turns to bloggers in the hope that they will publish Dr M's response to a Syed Hamid Albar's statement in Parliament about the sand and airspace issue with Singapore.
In a nutshell, the former PM is telling the Foreign Minister to walk his talk and not to hide untruths.
Dr M's statement also sets some things straight. The sale of sand to Singapore, for example, had been the practice even before his time. "... it was Dr Mahathir who stopped such practices ..", the letter says.
I haven't checked with Sufi Yusoff if he had even bothered sending Dr M's statement to NST after its group editor Brendan Pereira failed (or refused) to publish an earlier letter he sent on bahalf of Dr M in response to a half-truths commentary the former Singapore Straits Times reporter had written Monday.
Here it is, Dr M's response to Syed Hamid (sans spin or editing):
YABhg TUN DR MAHATHIR BIN MOHAMAD
STATEMENT ON BRIDGE OVER
THE STRAITS OF TEBRAU , JOHOR, MALAYSIA
Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar in a written reply to Lim Kit Siang in Parliament on Thursday said Malaysia did not offer the sale of sand or the use of its airspace by Singapore as claimed by former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
The Foreign Minister was quoted to have said that the claims were baseless and devoid of any truth, going by what was reported in the mainstream media.
If it is not true that Malaysia had proposed to sell sand to Singapore and provide airspace for warplanes to practice then the Foreign Minister must show documented proof, including minutes of meetings and draft agreements where these proposals were made. This can be done by declassifying minutes of meetings between the Malaysian and Singaporean negotiating teams to prove beyond reasonable doubt the Minister's assertion. The Official Secrets Act should not be used to hide untruths.
In the absence of such document, it must be assumed that the proposal (to sell sand and give airspace for Singapore warplanes) was made by Malaysia which was pursuing the building of a straight bridge in place of a crooked or scenic bridge that the previous administration had decided upon and of which construction had already started before it was halted in February of 2004.
To Dr Mahathir's understanding, the proposal (to sell sand and use of Malaysian airspace by the Republic of Singapore Air Force) came from Malaysia and there is nothing in writing to suggest that the request had actually originated from Singapore.
On claims by the Foreign Minister that sand had been sold to Singapore even during Dr Mahathir's administration, it must be noted that the quantity then was small as compared to that now being offered to Singapore amounting to one billion cubic metres over a period of 20 years.
This would effectively increase the size of Singapore (currently about 697.2 square km) to one and a half times its present size. Since the sand is Malaysian sand, then Malaysia is effectively selling a part of the country to Singapore.
It must be noted that while sand was sold to Singapore during Dr Mahathir's time in office, the practice had been going on even before Dr Mahathir became Prime Minister.
And it must be pointed out that it was Dr Mahathir who stopped such practices, which were then carried out by private entities, after such practices proved detrimental to the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Malaysia.
This was because extensive reclamation work by Singapore was affecting the waterways in the Straits of Tebrau.
On the issue of granting access of Malaysia's airspace to the RSAF, it is true that the RSAF was allowed such access in the past. However, this was abused and permission was revoked when the RSAF started flying beyond the Johor airspace and conducting Search and Rescue missions without informing or requesting permission from the Malaysian authorities.
Again it was Dr Mahathir who made this decision to withdraw permission granted to the RSAF.
To allow the RSAF access again as quid-pro-quo arrangement in pursuit of a straight bridge is absolutely unacceptable especially when there is not even any reciprocity on the part of the republic to grant Royal Malaysian Air Force jets access over Singapore airspace.
Allowing the sale of sand to Singapore and the use of airspace by the republic's air force was wrong. Dr Mahathir made sure that it was stopped during his tenure as Prime Minister because it was not right.
If it was not right before, it cannot be right now. Why is the present administration proposing to compromise by using the excuse that it had been allowed before?
for YABhg Tun Dr Mahathir bin Mohamad
July 1, 2006
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