Singapore 'happy' that Malaysia is dropping ICJ challenge on Pedra Branca: Vivian Balakrishnan

Singapore’s Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan Yahoo News Singapore file photo
Singapore’s Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan Yahoo News Singapore file photo

Singapore is “happy to agree” with Malaysia’s decision to drop its challenges to the International Court of Justice’s (ICJ) ruling on the sovereignty of Pedra Branca and its surrounding territories, said Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan on Wednesday (30 May).

In a Facebook post, Balakrishnan revealed that Malaysia had informed the ICJ on Monday that it was discontinuing proceedings in the two cases it had brought against Singapore relating to the ICJ’s original judgment on 23 May 2008 concerning sovereignty over Pedra Branca, Middle Rocks and South Ledge.

Singapore agreed with Malaysia’s request the following day, said Balakrishnan.

“We were confident of our case, and the correctness of the original ICJ decision. When Malaysia requested to discontinue the cases, without them being argued, we were happy to agree. Both Malaysia and Singapore had gone through the due legal process and put this matter to rest,” he said.

Balakrishnan added that Singapore’s legal team, including Attorney-General Lucien Wong and led by former home affairs minister S. Jayakumar, had put forward “clear and compelling arguments” against the submissions advanced by Malaysia”.

Earlier on Wednesday, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad told a media conference that the country would “reconsider” its challenge to the ICJ judgment on Pedra Branca. He added that the government was thinking of expanding Middle Rocks and developing it “into a small island”.

The latest development appears to have drawn the decades-long dispute over the tiny but strategic Pedra Branca, which lies off 14km off Johor on the eastern approach to the Singapore Strait from the South China Sea, to a close.

In 2008, the ICJ ruled that the island belonged to Singapore. Middle Rocks, a rocky outcrop close to Pedra Branca, was deemed to belong to Malaysia, while a low-tide bank called South Ledge was deemed to be in overlapping territorial waters.

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