Friday, June 30, 2006

Ministers ATTACK: Datuk Syed Hamid : Dr Mahathir’s BELIEFS on SAND AIRSPACE are UNTRUTHS; Datuk Seri Hisham: Dr Mahathir’s friendsTAKING ADVANTAGE

Malaysiakini headline on the Sand & Airspace issue

The Foreign Minister, Datuk Syed Hamid Albar in a written reply in Parliament on thursday said that the air space issue is not new and had been discussed long ago. Tun Dr Mahathir himself had included the issue as atrade-off during discussion with Singapore government.

Use of Malaysian Airspace: Singapore Senior Minister, Goh Chok Tong had requested that Malaysia allow the SAF (Singapore Air Force) to use Malaysia’s airspace during a meeting in Putra Jaya on March 1, 2005.

Sand Issue: The Sand purchase was raised by Goh at the same meeting. The government considered Singapore’s request after taking into account that Malaysia had actually sold sand to the republic. Silica sand is in fact still being sold to Singapore but with more stringent conditions.

"Both these issues were raised as political quid pro quo based on the principles of equitable interests to enable Singapore to agree with the proposal to build a bridge to replace the Johor Causeway," said Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar. So Dr Mahathir’s memory is a bit hazy over the issues.

Since the government had decided not to proceed with the bridge construction, Malaysia no longer needs to consider the granting of air space to Singapore and both issues was not raised again.

Read on from The Sun's detailed account; 30 June 2006

Sand and airspace talks started under Dr M
Statements by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad that Malaysia was the one who first offered to sell sand and to allow Singapore to use our airspace are baseless and not true at all" ­ Syed Hamid

KUALA LUMPUR: Negotiations on airspace and sand with Singapore took place even during the administration of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and were done at the request of Singapore, Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Syed Albar told Parliament yesterday.

He said this in a written reply to questions from several MPs who had asked why
Malaysia took the initiative to offer sand and airspace.

Mahathir also had attacked the government for offering sand and airspace.

"Statements by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad that
Malaysia was the one who first offered to sell sand and to allow Singapore to use our airspace are baseless and not true at all," Syed Hamid said.

He added: "Tun (Mahathir) himself had put (memasukkan) this matter (sand and airspace) as one of the trade-off issues during their meetings on the packaged deals involving both countries.

"It was
Singapore and not Malaysia which broached the subject of allowing the sale of sand again and the use of Malaysia's airspace.

"Both issues were raised as a means of political quid pro quo based on the principle of mutual interests in getting
Singapore to agree to the construction of a new (straight) bridge to replace the Johor causeway."

Syed Hamid said the airspace issue was nothing new but had in fact been discussed by both countries in their bilateral meetings in the form of a package deal between 1998 and 2002.

And on
March 1, 2005, during a meeting between Singapore's Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong and Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi in Putrajaya to discuss outstanding issues, Goh repeated the republic's request that Malaysia allow the use of Malaysia's airspace by the republic's air force.

Syed Hamid said that during the subsequent senior officials meeting of both countries between September 2005 and March this year, only two of the five special requests sought by Singapore were considered by Malaysia after obtaining the green light from the Malaysian Defence

The two privileges were the request for searchand-rescue and the Northern Transit Corridor, he said.

"Even then, the right of searchand-rescue was offered based on the principle of reciprocity and is in line with international practises," he said.

"The Northern Transit Corridor was mainly to be used as a transit point to the
South China Sea and that the Singapore Air Force would not hover in Malaysian airspace."

He said conditions were also imposed by the Malaysian Defence Ministry on the use of the Northern Transit Corridor to ensure
Malaysia's interests were preserved.

On the sand issue, Syed Hamid said the government had given due consideration to the requests of Singapore, after taking into the fact that Malaysia had for a long time in the past sold sand to Singapore under the administration of Mahathir.

"Sand is still being sold to
Singapore at the moment, but only restricted to the sale of silica sand," he said.

Syed Hamid said compared to the sale of sand done under the administration of
Mahathir, Malaysia had imposed stricter sale conditions during their bilateral meetings.

"These conditions were in regards to the aspects of sand quality, location, royalty payment, license issuance, Federal and state government procedures, regulations on sand mining, related terms and conditions, as well as effective enforcement to preserve the country's interests," Syed Hamid said.

He said that despite this, the government in the end took into account the sentiments of the people not to proceed with the bridge project.

"This meant
Malaysia did not have to consider giving airspace and selling sand as was requested by Singapore," he said.

And from NST; 30 Jun 2006; Parties ‘cashing in’ on Dr M’s sentiments; By Farrah Naz Karim

PUTRAJAYA: Parties with vested interests are said to be cashing in on former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s sentiments to pursue their own causes.

Umno Youth chief Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein said not only Dr Mahathir’s business friends but others, as well, were taking advantage of the situation.

"By fanning sentiments and sensationalising issues, they hope to gain. They will not succeed even if they take advantage of other people, be it for their business or personal interests.

"They have preconditions and their personal interests are at stake. But at the end of the day, they will not succeed in attaining their causes as it is always the party and the Government that prevail."

Hishammuddin said the Government, by way of thoroughly explaining to the people issues raised by Dr Mahathir, would quash such opportunism.

He said the Government realised that ultimately, it was the people who decided on the position of an elected Government. That, he said, was why the Cabinet decided to enlighten the people on the Government’s directions and their rationales.

The true test of the Government’s credibility, he said, would be the success of the Ninth Malaysia Plan currently under way.

"We will make sure that a thorough explanation be made to those willing to listen.

"However, we can only do so much. We can’t expect those not interested to accept our explanations ... that is beyond our control," said Hishammuddin, who is Education Minister, after his ministry’s post-Cabinet meeting here yesterday.

He also noted that Umno Youth deputy Khairy Jamaluddin had also been the target of "wild attacks".

He slammed Dr Mahathir’s former political secretary Matthias Chang, who lobbed potshots at him and several other ministers for speaking out against Dr Mahathir, whom Chang described as a "Malay hero".

Chang had declared: "I spit in the faces of those Malays who show disrespect for this Malay hero".

Hishammuddin said he had told Khairy to refrain from responding although it was not easy to ignore the allegations.

"It is always the interests of the nation and party that come first." Hishammuddin said he did not expect Dr Mahathir to desist from questioning the Government and Umno.

"The Government will answer his queries, but that will not satisfy him. He will just raise many more issues.

"I am personally disappointed that even after slogging at the Education Ministry for over two years, I’m still, like he said, part of a ‘half-past-six’ Government."

Hishammuddin said he could not accept Dr Mahathir’s alliance with the Opposition, and that the former prime minister’s attacks on Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi were unfair.

and what did ANNUAR IBRAHIM said

Anwar defends Dr M’s right to attack Government

KUALA LUMPUR: Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has defended Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s right to attack the Government, and appealed to the media not to censor his views.

The former deputy prime minister, who was detained under the Internal Security Act in 1998 and later jailed for abuse of power, said a media blackout on his former boss would be unwise.

"It makes a mockery of the system. If Dr Mahathir did something wrong during his rule, for us to repeat it would not be right," Anwar told a Press conference at his house here yesterday, wryly noting that it took some effort on his part to defend Dr Mahathir’s right to free speech.

Anwar said the media space initially given to Dr Mahathir was an exception to the rule, because when the former premier was seen transgressing the barrier set by the mainstream media, they began to bar him.

"When a minister chose to criticise Tun Mahathir, he was given full coverage. But when Tun Mahathir rebutted his criticism, there was no adequate coverage," he said.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz launched a blistering attack on Dr Mahathir for sharing the same platform with opposition politicians who had called him a "pharaoh" when he was prime minister.

At a gathering attended by opposition politicians and non-governmental organisations on Saturday, Dr Mahathir repeated criticisms that Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi had betrayed him by reversing some of his policies.

On senior Pas leaders who attended the gathering, Anwar, who is also Parti Keadilan Rakyat adviser, defended the Islamist party.

Although he said he was not supportive of such a move, he was informed by Pas leaders that some of them attended the talk with Dr Mahathi merely to listen to the former prime minister lambast Umno.

Among the invited guests were Pas deputy president Nasharuddin Mat Isa, vice-president Husam Musa and central committee member Mahfuz Omar.

Asked if he would consider working with Dr Mahathir to oppose the Government, Anwar said "Of course course not."


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