Anwar wants 'meaningful' talks with S'pore over Pedra Branca

The sovereignty of Pedra Branca is considered by Singapore to be already settled.

Tan Min-Wei | December 14, 2022, 07:13 PM

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Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim has instructed Malaysia's Attorney General to look into the country's claims over Pedra Branca.

Prompt and meaningful discussions between friendly countries

Anwar was speaking to reporters after chairing a cabinet meeting on Wednesday, Dec. 14.

According to Bernama, Anwar said that "as it stands", Pedra Branca has been been awarded to Singapore by the International Court of Justice.

Anwar asked Attorney-General Idrus Harun for an explanation on the "controversial" claim, and "any other arising implications".

Describing the relationship between Singapore and Malaysia as that of "friendly nations", Anwar said that he wants the government to look into the matter so "that there can be more meaningful negotiations with Singapore".

Long running issue

The sovereignty of Pedra Branca is considered by Singapore to be already settled, especially after Malaysia's 2018 withdrawal of its bid to challenge the 2008 ICJ ruling which awarded the island to Singapore.

However, the issue came to the forefront yet again in June 2022, when the Sultan of Johor slammed the Malaysian federal government for withdrawing its bid, saying that the state had been "treated like a stepchild".

The sultan used the Pedra Branca issue to illustrate the "lackadaisical attitude" of former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad's government, which was also a Pakatan Harapan government.

This prompted a sharp retort from Mahathir, who said the loss of the island was "no big deal".

In October 2022, then Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob, as reported by Bernama, said that his cabinet was to proceed with legal action at the ICJ over a number of islands including Pedra Branca.

Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in reply that Singapore would "robustly defend its sovereignty" over the island, and would deal with "whatever legal action" Malaysia pursued.

Bernama claimed that the Sultan of Johor's comments were the inciting factor for Anwar's announcement.

It is unclear to what degree this indicates that the Pedra Branca issue is being revived in Malaysia due to domestic politics between the federal government and state rulers.

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Top image via Anwar Ibrahim/Facebook