in News Analysis

The verdict is out, Pedra Branca is ours, but…

It is interesting to note how the issue was presented by both sides of the media. Over here in Singapore, Straits Times decided that a rosy spin would be nice:

…when Judge Awn Shawkat Al-Khasawneh concluded his two-hour statement at 6pm, Singaporeans and Malaysians alike applauded the decision.

Over at Malaysia’s National News Agency,, the story wasn’t quite as rosy. Malaysian’s International Trade and Industry Minister, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, said:

I’m rather disappointed with the decision made by the ICJ on Pulau Batu Puteh which was not in favour of Malaysia.

As a subject of Johor, I’m sad because whatever consideration applied by the ICJ under international law, in terms of the historical value, sovereignty and morality, we have lost part of our territory

… Hopefully, Singapore will not be arrogant over the latest decision on Pulau Batu Puteh

The fact that Malaysians probably aren’t applauding now is probably best shown by the call for calm by chairman and chief executive of the Institute of Strategic and International Studies, Datuk Seri Mohamed Jawhar Hassan:

Don’t be emotional and spread anti-Singapore sentiments which would not bring any benefit to Malaysia or to bilateral relations between the two countries

Yet another one from the New Straits Times, Loss a big blow for fishermen:

The normally quiet fishing community in Sungai Rengit, Pengerang, 65km from here, became highly charged yesterday, as fishermen shook their heads in disbelief over the loss of Pulau Batu Puteh.

The Straits Times conveniently left out all negative references of what the Malaysian government had said, while the… did not bother to include anything the Singapore authorities had said.

I’m not sure which is worse. But actually I should know which is: The Straits Times. Omission is probably less of a crime than distortion. But one thing for sure: patriotism is one thing, responsible journalism is quite another.