Malaysia is still pining for Pedra Branca, wants to claim waters surrounding it as its own
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In case you have been too caught up with what’s going on domestically with the Lee family saga, something that was brewing on the diplomatic front over the last couple of months has seen fresh developments.
Remember the Pedra Branca issue?
Yes, it’s back in the news.
On Jun 30, Malaysia has filed a new application at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) requesting interpretation of the judgment in May 2008 over the sovereignty of Pedra Branca.
According to a ICJ press statement, Malaysia is requesting the ICJ to declare that:
– The waters surrounding Pedra Branca remain within the territorial waters of Malaysia
– South Ledge is “located in the territorial waters of Malaysia and consequently sovereignty over South Ledge belong to Malaysia.
The ICJ had awarded Singapore sovereignty over Pedra Branca, while Middle Rocks was awarded to Malaysia. Based on the judgement then, South Ledge belonged to the state in whose territorial waters it is located.
Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) noted in a press statement on Jul 1 that the ICJ’s 2008 judgment was “final and without appeal”. It was also “clear and unambiguous”.
“Malaysia’s request for the ICJ to interpret the judgment is puzzling. Singapore will therefore oppose Malaysia’s application for interpretation, which we consider to be both unnecessary and without merit”.
MFA said Singapore will file its written observations on Malaysia’s latest interpretation application “in due course”.
“Just as we are confident of our case on the revision application, we are also confident that we are on strong grounds to oppose this latest application by Malaysia for interpretation. Singapore is committed to resolving these issues in accordance with international law.”
Malaysia has described its latest application at the ICJ as “separate and autonomous” from an application in Feb 2017 seeking to revise the May 2008 judgement.
A revision application seeks to revise or alter a judgment based on purported newly discovered facts.
Speaking on the issue in Parliament on March 2, Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan had said that after studying Malaysia’s application carefully, Singapore “strongly believes” that the newly found documents presented by Malaysia in its bid to overturn the original judgement do not satisfy the criteria under which it applied for a revision.
You can find comprehensive background by our MFA on the Pedra Branca case here.
Top photo via MFA