Hey, to all the students studying Southeast Asian history? You’re seeing history repeat itself.
Yep, you read the headline right. Former Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad said that Singapore should be returned to Malaysia, and then rehashed some old drama that we honestly thought was left in the past.
Here’s everything that he said.
Singapore is “Malay Land”, Should Be “Demanded” and “Given Back” To Malaysia
The 96-year-old former PM was speaking at an event in Selangor on 19 June when he made those remarks. The event was organised by multiple non-governmental organisations under the banner Congress for Malay Survival, and titled “I am Malay: Survival Begins”.
Dr Mahathir made a speech during the opening of the event, which was live-streamed on social media.
During the speech, he said that Malaysia should claim Singapore to be returned to them, because Singapore was “once owned by Johor”.
Right after saying that, he then seemed to paint Malaysia as the magnanimous one, saying that “there is no demand whatsoever of Singapore”. He followed it up by saying that Malaysia shows its appreciation “to the leadership of this new country called Singapore”.
As if not impeding on the sovereignty of your neighbour makes you the “good guy”, when what you’re doing is simply adhering to international law.
Rehashing The Old Days, Said Sipadan-Ligitan More Worth It Than Pedra Branca
After that, Dr Mahathir decided to rehash some old drama. He said that what was known as Tanah Melayu, or Malay land, used to be extensive.
It stretched from the Isthmus of Kra in Thailand, all the way to the Riau Islands and Singapore. Reminiscing about the old glory days, he said he wondered if the Malay Peninsula will fall under someone else in the future.
Dr Mahathir then brought up the case of Sipadan-Ligitan and Pedra Branca, both of which were historical conflicts between Malaysia and Indonesia, and Malaysia and Singapore respectively.
I won’t give you a history lesson here, but TLDR: both conflicts couldn’t be resolved bilaterally, so they brought it up to the International Court of Justice.
The ICJ ruled in 2002 that Sipadan and Ligitan, islands near Borneo, belonged to Malaysia instead of Indonesia. In 2008, ICJ also ruled that Pedra Branca belonged to Singapore, while the nearby Middle Rocks was given to Malaysia. Malaysia actually applied to the ICJ in 2017 to revise this judgement, but in 2018, they retracted that application.
With this context in mind, Dr Mahathir said that the government found that control over Sipadan-Ligitan was more valuable than Pedra Branca. He then likened the loss of Pedra Branca to giving up a piece of rock “the size of a table” to Singapore.
Well, technically, y’all fought pretty hard for Pedra Branca, but sure. Ignore history and say that you gave us the island, as if it wasn’t an ICJ judgement.
The former PM stated, “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 land).”
Yeah, let’s just say that’s not going to happen anytime soon.
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Featured Image: YouTube (Astro Awani)
DPM Lawrence Wong has just spoken about his plan for Singapore in the next ten years and more. Here’s a summary of his first speech: