Comment by DATUK REJAL ARBEE
WHAT is it with the island once dubbed as the red dot by former Indonesian President BJ Habibie, as it is just that on a world map?
Being so has gone to its head that it must show the world, especially its neighbours that it should not be taken for granted.
The problem is not because it’s being taken for granted. Actually, no one does but the island is playing the victim by exerting itself on its neighbours, Indonesia, and especially Malaysia.
Never mind that it has to rely on the goodwill of Malaysia, in particular Johor even for the essential life sustaining drinking water.
And now the controversy is over its import of sand without being sensitive to the negative effects on the neighbours arising from that.
Malaysia has long ago banned its sand from being exported to that republic.
To overcome this, Singapore had turned to Indonesia by sourcing it from Batam, which is situated just south of the island republic, so much so that some of the islands are all but destroyed.
But does that bother the red dot? Of course, it just could not be bothered.
When Indonesia, likewise, banned its sand from being exported what did that island republic do?
It began importing from Myanmar and then Vietnam.
People are wondering what the republic is doing with so much imported sand.
It is not just for its building industry but more for its reclamation projects. It is trying to increase its land area which had already grown by some few sq miles.
It has even reclaimed parts of areas adjacent to Johor’s Kota Tinggi, causing stronger current flow in the straits, thereabouts.
Protestations from Johor have only fallen on deaf ears. It just could not be bothered.
I think the government should also take a very serious look into allegations that despite us banning the export of sand, some quarters here are out to make a quick buck by surreptitiously selling sand from our rivers to that republic.
There are also allegations that unscrupulous parties are out to make a quick buck, regardless of the ban.
The adage ‘there can’t be smoke without fire’ may ring true here, as some among us value money more than the country’s interests.
Datuk AhmadRejal Arbee has been in journalism for over 40 years, starting as a cadet reporter in the Straits Times in 1963 and heading its Johor Bahru office in 1966. He then moved to Bernama and became its first overseas correspondent to Jakarta in 1972. He also served as the Berita Harian Group Editor and the Editor of The Sun. Currently, he is reminiscing some of his memorable experiences throughout his long career in journalism.