ICJ Pedra Branca judgment: Singapore files observations on Malaysia’s request

AFP file photo

Singapore filed its written observations on Malaysia’s request for interpretation of the International Court of Justice’s (ICJ)’s judgment in the case regarding sovereignty over Pedra Branca, Middle Rocks and South Ledge on Tuesday (31 Oct), said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA).

Singapore’s written observations are a comprehensive rebuttal to Malaysia’s request for interpretation of the 23 May 2008 judgment. Singapore is confident of its case and its legal team,” said MFA.

After the written proceedings, the next step is for both parties to present their oral arguments after the ICJ has fixed the schedule for the oral proceedings, added MFA.

Pedra Branca, which covers an area of about 8,560 sq m, is an outlying island and forms the eastern-most point of Singapore. Middle Rocks and South Ledge are two nearby maritime features. Pedra Branca has been the subject of a territorial dispute between Singapore and Malaysia since 1979. The ICJ ruled in 2008 that Pedra Branca belongs to Singapore, and that Middle Rocks is Malaysian territory.

Commenting on the filing, Minister of Foreign Affairs Vivian Balakrishnan wrote on Facebook on Tuesday morning, “The Court has not yet fixed the dates for oral hearings. We hope that Malaysia’s interpretation request and its earlier revision application can be resolved as soon as possible, so that both countries can focus on strengthening our bilateral ties.”

In February this year, Malaysia filed an application to overturn the ICJ’s 2008 ruling, citing ‘new facts’ in the case. It cited three documents recently declassified by the United Kingdom to support the application.

In April, Singapore formed a legal team comprising Attorney-General Lucien Wong, Professor S Jayakumar, Professor Tommy Koh, and former Chief Justice Chan Sek Keong to study Malaysia’s application. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said then that Singapore is confident of retaining Pedra Branca as the Republic had a ‘strong case’.