KUALA LUMPUR — Malaysia’s Water, Land and Natural Resources Minister Xavier Jayakumar says it is not targeting Singapore in its sea sand export ban and it has nothing to do with Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
The minister says river sand is still being exported Singapore, adding the ban is because of environmental concerns, refuting a Reuters article which says Malaysia imposed the ban on Oct 3 last year in a move that could affect Singapore’s expansion and reclamation plans.
The Cabinet minister dismissed reports the ban is because Dr Mahathir is upset that Malaysia’s land is used to increase the size of Singapore.
Xavier says the ban has nothing to do with Singapore land expansion nor that the use of Malaysian sand to expand Singapore upets Dr Mahathir.
The Reuters article quoted government officers without naming them saying the ban was not made public because of the potential diplomatic fallout.
The sources also made the claim that Malaysia initiated the ban because of the Malaysian prime minister’s concerns but Xavier says the ban has nothing to with such claims.
Dr Xavier made it clear the ban was because of environmental concerns saying it is a blanket decision and it stays that way, adding that Malaysia is will not single out any one country.
He adds there is no problem in relationship with any countries as far as this business is concerned.
“We have made a blanket decision and it stays that way.”
The Reuters article quoted Endie Shazlie Akbar, Dr Mahathir’s press secretary, who denied it had anything to do with Singapore’s expansion plans.
Endie says the plan was to clamp down on illegal sand smuggling.
The Minister says Malaysia will not lose out financially with the ban in place as the revenue from sea sand exports is “very, very small”.
But there is huge domestic demand for sea sand in Penang, Malacca and Negri Sembilan, states that have embarked on reclamation projects.
Watch video of Xavier speaking to the Malaysian media: