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Should have objected earlier, minister tells Mahathir on Apandi leading Batu Puteh inquiry

Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar says the former prime minister's decision not to cooperate with the task force is 'disappointing'.

2 minute read
Law minister Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar. Photo: Bernama
Law minister Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar. Photo: Bernama

Any objection to Mohamed Apandi Ali’s appointment as chairman of the special task force to review the laws relating to the matter of sovereignty over Pulau Batu Puteh (Pedra Branca), the Middle Rocks and the South Ledge should have been raised and brought to the government’s attention earlier, law minister Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said today.

Wan Junaidi, a minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, added that no issues had arisen regarding the Cabinet’s decision on Oct 29, 2021 to appoint Apandi as chairman, as due consideration had been given to the move to set up the task force.

He said this in response to former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s decision not to continue with the witness interview session with the task force’s cub-Committee on tort of misfeasance at the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

It was reported that the former prime minister came to the AGC for the interview, but refused to proceed with the session and decided to leave as soon as he found out that Apandi was still the committee’s chairman.

“The task force only wanted to hear and get his opinion on the situation which occurred in 2018 when the government decided to withdraw the application to review the case at the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

“Tun was well aware of the appointment of the task force chairman and he could have turned down the invitation to attend the session at the AGC,” Wan Junaidi said in a statement.

Wan Junaidi also said Mahathir’s decision not to cooperate was disappointing and shocking to the panel of interviewers.

He said the special task force was formed with the specific objective of reviewing and studying the legal options for Malaysia, as well carrying out investigations relating to the withdrawal of the review application at the ICJ in 2018.

“The task force has been carrying out its duties for seven months and will continue until the completion of the interim and final reports. It is also in the midst of preparing follow-up actions.

“It is impossible for me to act arbitrarily without any justification to remove Apandi as the task force’s chairman when the decision on his appointment was made by the Cabinet,” he said.

Wan Junaidi added that the task force would continue with its commitment and fulfil its responsibility to produce a final report as planned, in line with the objective of its establishment.