Malaysia’s 2nd attempt to contest Singapore’s sovereignty over Pedra Branca within the space of 4 months points to a bid to “do what they can” against a backdrop of domestic political factors, said experts on international law, politics and history.
On Jun 30, Malaysia filed an application to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) requesting interpretation of a 2008 judgment which awarded sovereignty of Pedra Branca to Singapore, nearby islet Middle Rocks to Malaysia and the South Ledge outcrop to “the state in whose territorial waters it is located”.
Malaysia’s new application claims South Ledge, along with the waters surrounding Pedra Branca, as located within its territorial waters.
EIU: Very unlikely Pedra Branca will go to Malaysia
The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) said the dispute over the Pedra Branca islet, which is relatively distant (around 40 km) from Singapore and closer to the Malaysian coast, will not go Malaysia’s way.
It said: It seems unlikely that the ICJ will reverse its determination that Pedra Branca, the location of a colonial-era lighthouse set up by the then-Singaporean authorities, is within Singapore.
However, Malaysia may be able to demonstrate that most of the adjacent sea area is within Malaysian waters. This despite some grey areas upon which Malaysia is struggling to prove it has rights over the rocky parcel.
Singapore says it's 'without merit'
THE HAGUE: Malaysia on Friday (Jun 30) filed an application requesting interpretation of the judgment delivered by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in 2008 over the sovereignty of Pedra Branca, in a move Singapore has called "puzzling".
This is “separate & autonomous” from an application in February seeking revision of the ICJ judgment, Malaysia said. On May 23, 2008, the ICJ ruled that Singapore had sovereignty over Pedra Branca, while Middle Rocks was awarded to Malaysia. South Ledge belonged to the state in whose territorial waters it is located, the ICJ found.
On Feb 2, Malaysia applied to revise the judgment, claiming to have found “a new fact” unearthed from 3 documents discovered in the National Archives of the United Kingdom between Aug 4, 2016 and Jan 30, 2017. In a press release issued on Friday, the ICJ said Malaysia had invoked Article 60 of the Statute of the Court as its basis for a request for interpretation. The article states that “in the event of a dispute as to the meaning or scope of the judgment, the Court shall construe it upon the request of any party”.
Malaysia's fresh challenge on Pedra Branca 'without merit': MFA
Malaysia has filed an application at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to declare that the waters surrounding Pedra Branca are within its territorial waters.
In response, Singapore says the move is puzzling, without merit, & one it will oppose.
The bid, filed on Friday, calls on the court to clarify its 2008 judgment which awarded Pedra Branca to Singapore, & neighbouring Middle Rocks to Malaysia.
Malaysia asks ICJ to rule on waters around Pedra Branca
Singapore files rebuttal to Malaysia's application on Pedra Branca
ICJ ruling on Pedra Branca dispute
S’pore to oppose KL’s latest bid on Batu Puteh
Singapore will oppose Malaysia’s application for interpretation of the International Court of Justice’s (ICJ) 2008 Judgment in the case concerning sovereignty over Pedra Branca, Middle Rocks and South Ledge.
In a statement yesterday, the Singaporean Foreign Affairs Ministry noted that Malaysia’s application for interpretation filed on Friday was additional to, and separate from, its Feb 2, 2017 application for revision of the ICJ’s judgment.
“In our view, the ICJ judgment is 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,” said the ministry.
Malaysia asks International Court of Justice to rule on waters around Pedra Branca; Singapore to oppose application
Malaysia has filed an application before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to declare that the waters surrounding Pedra Branca remain within its territorial waters - a move Singapore said was puzzling, without merit, & one it will oppose.
On Friday (Jun 30), Malaysia applied for an interpretation of the Court's 2008 judgment which had awarded Pedra Branca to Singapore. In its bid, Malaysia also asked the court to declare that a nearby feature, South Ledge, is located in Malaysia's territorial waters & therefore belongs to it.
Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) said in a statement on Saturday (Jul 1): "In our view, the ICJ Judgment is clear & 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 & without merit."
Malaysia files new application on Pedra Branca as Singapore celebrates NS50 and SAF Day
So, it appears that the Malaysians have made a new application to the International Court of Justice (ICJ). Yesterday, they requested the ICJ for an interpretation of the judgement delivered by ICJ in 2008.
In 2008, the ICJ ruled that Singapore had sovereignty over Pedra Branca, while Middle Rocks was awarded to Malaysia. South Ledge belonged to the state in whose territorial waters it is located.
In its new application, Malaysia has indicated that “the parties have been unable to agree on the meaning and/or scope” of the following two points of the 2008 judgment:
- that “sovereignty over Pedra Branca belongs to Singapore’
- that ‘sovereignty over South Ledge belongs to the State in the territorial waters of which it is located’”.
When Rocks are not Just Rocks … Four points
Whenever Pedra Branca (or White Rocks in Portuguese) is mentioned, two things come to mind: a small island of rocks, no larger than a football field, so named because it’s white from being covered in bird droppings; and a territorial dispute between neighbouring frenemies Malaysia and Singapore:
- How long has Singapore and Malaysia been fighting over these ‘White Rocks’?
- ICJ is the judicial branch of the United Nations (UN). And indeed, the UN court ruled in 2008 that the isle belongs to Singapore.
- What ‘new evidence’ is Malaysia referring to? Sure or not? Or just chut pattern?
- If the case is not strong, then why go and waste time to bring to court again?
Malaysia challenge Singapore's sovereignty over Pedra Branca
S'pore confident of defending Pedra Branca despite Malaysia's latest challenge
Quick thoughts on Malaysia's renewed challenge over Pedra Branca
5 things you should know about Pedra Branca now that it’s back in the news
No idea what that is? No fear, we’re here to bring you up to speed so that you’ll have something to discuss with your colleagues at the water cooler come Monday.
- Why is it white?
- Danger Zone
- He said, she said
- So why is Pedra Branca appearing in my newsfeed again?
- What next?
ICJ’s Press Release
Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs comments
Malaysia’s Attorney General Chamber’s Press Release
Malaysia files for revision of ICJ’s Pulau Batu Puteh decision
The tiny island of Pedra Branca, where S'pore administers a lighthouse, sits at the entrance to the S'pore Strait about 30 km (19 miles) east of the city state & 15 km off peninsular Malaysia's southern coast on Jan 6, 2003. Photo: Reuters
S'pore strongly believes the documents filed by Malaysia to challenge the 2008 decision by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) that ruled Pedra Branca to be S'porean territory does not satisfy a legal clause under the court’s statute.
Speaking during the Committee of Supply Debate in Parliament on Thursday, Minister for Foreign Affairs Vivian Balakrishnan said the Republic’s legal team has studied Malaysia’s application carefully, including the 3 documents relied by Putrajaya to support its application.
“Our legal team strongly believes that the documents relied on by Malaysia do not satisfy the criteria under Article 61,” he said in response to questions by Members of Parliament Amrin Amin & Baey Yam Keng on the case.