Friday, June 6, 2008

Fishermen back plan to merge Middle Rocks

June 5, 2008

JOHOR BARU - A PROPOSAL being floated to merge the rock outcrops called the Middle Rocks next to Pedra Branca has won support from fishermen, who say they will benefit from development there.

Pengerang Fishermen Association chairman Abu Bakar Mohamad said the waters around Middle Rocks are a strategic location for fishermen, who fish there and seek shelter in storms and strong winds.

He gave a thumbs-up to the Foreign Ministry proposal to develop the Middle Rocks, which Malaysia was awarded sovereignty of by the International Court of Justice last month. The proposal included the possibility of setting up a meteorological research centre and a maritime observatory.

'I am confident if the rock outcrops are merged, various activities can be carried out to benefit the fishermen,' he told Utusan Malaysia yesterday.

Foreign Minister Rais Yatim had announced the proposal on Tuesday, saying the two rock outcrops, which lie about 1.1km south of Singapore's Pedra Branca, could be merged to make them longer and wider.

Engineers have also described the idea as feasible, reported Utusan Malaysia.

'Although it looks difficult, we have the expertise to do it,' the Malay-language daily quoted Malaysian Engineering Institute president Gue See Sew as saying.

'The construction can be done, but we have to do a little bit of research to ensure everything goes smoothly.'

Research and Postgraduate Dean of Universiti Utara Malaysia Mohd Mustapha Ishak was also reported as hailing the idea.

[Alternative Title: Iskandar Development Region revamp to cover just Middle Rocks. Malaysian Cabinet says revamp would be more feasible than previous plan.]

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