Kota Tinggi, Malaysia : Issues on bilateral ties may be discussed in talks between Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and his Singapore counterpart, Lee Hsien Loong, when they meet in mid-May, Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Albar said Tuesday.
“It’s up to the prime minister to decide on the issues to be raised in his meeting with Lee,” he told reporters in this town in southern Johor state.
Asked whether the two prime ministers would dwell on the outstanding issues between the two neighbouring countries, Syed Hamid said it was up to the two leaders.
He said the May 15 meeting was coming at a time when bilateral ties were at their best.
Besides Lee, the Singapore delegation to the one-day meeting would comprise the republic’s foreign, transport and defence ministers, among other officials, he said.
He said Malaysia often held informal meetings such as this with leaders of fellow members of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN). It had held similar meetings with the leaders of Indonesia, Thailand and Brunei.
As to the overlapping claims to Batu Putih Island by both Malaysia and Singapore, a matter which has been referred to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague, Netherlands, Syed Hamid said the hearing was expected to begin in November.
“We hope the issue can be settled soon. Both countries will accept the ICJ’s verdict on the dispute,” he said.
Syed Hamid said his ministry was the lead agency assisting staff of the Attorney-General’s Chambers and the Queen’s Counsel to gather documents and evidence to prove that the island, located not far from Pengerang, Johor, was Malaysia’s.
Collecting of documents and information was in the final stages, he said.
Syed Hamid said Malaysia’s team to fight the case in the ICJ would be led by Abdul Kadir Mohamad, the Foreign Affairs Adviser to the Prime Minister, who would be assisted by lawyers who are experts in international law.