Transcript Of Door-stop Interview with Minister for Foreign Affairs George Yeo and Malaysian Foreign Minister, Datuk Seri Utama Dr Rais Yatim on 25 May 2008, Sedona Hotel, Yangon

25 May 2008

Minister Yeo: I congratulated Minister Rais on Malaysia being awarded Middle Rocks by the ICJ. He congratulated Singapore on being awarded Pedra Branca on Friday. Our officials will now sit down in the Joint Committee to go through the judgement in detail, to work out the transitional arrangements. In fact, that Joint Committee has already been at work before the judgement, in order to ensure that all scenarios have already been anticipated and that there will be no friction on the ground. The bilateral relation is very good and we should be more relaxed now about safeguarding our claims, about the intensity of our patrols and so. Both of us are bound by the ICJ decision. We respect it; we will implement it with a positive spirit. I think it is good for bilateral relations. To use Minister Rais' description, both sides have won and that is good. I remember the song in the movie "881", that when both sides get something, it is easier to keep relationships. Bilateral relations are very good and both Minister Rais and I are determined to push it to a higher level. It is time for Malaysia to host the next Wisma-MFA Games and Minister Rais says he will do so in the coming months. He doesn't play golf; I don't play badminton, so we thought we will go fishing. Maybe, we will go fishing between Pedra Branca and Middle Rocks.

Over to you, Minister Rais.

Minister Rais: Well, an episode of almost three decades, have come to past and I have summed it up in terms of the ICJ judgement as a win-win situation. It is a victory for Singapore and it is a winning episode for Malaysia for having obtained the Middle Rocks. We are also pleased that the judgement which states that the territorial waters within which South Ledge is situated, will be, to be in favour of the state that has the territorial waters. We will work this out with the technical committee and as George has stated, the technical committee is already in swing and in operation, virtually to be in session within 2 weeks from today. The second point is this is now behind us. What has been an issue for the past 3 decades almost, is now no more an issue for us, it is just to work out how the judgement ought to be translated and understood. Therefore, perhaps it is a day of joy for some of the fishermen around those islands and more than that, it is a joyous prediction for both countries. And I do assert again and reiterate that the bilateral, the good relations, the neighbourliness beween Malaysia and Singapore will continue to be forged ahead on a firmer, more harmonious, friendly and cooperative base. Between us, we have decided that our job is to foster truly and effectively that friendship, that harmony and that cooperation.

Minister Yeo: Thank you.

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