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Saturday, 24 May 2008
PITA POLITIK (28): DISAPPEARING ACT OF PEDRA BRANCA
Pulau Batu Puteh in The star, 24 May 2008. The panel of 16 ICJ judges in session at The Hague, Netherlands to decide who owns Pulau Batu Puteh.
The location of Pulau Batu Puteh off the coast of Johore in relation to The Middle Rocks and the South Ledge.
1953 Johor letter 'hands' island to Singapore The UN’s highest court, however, gave Malaysia ownership of Middle Rocks, a smaller uninhabited outcropping.
Sovereignty over a third disputed cluster of rocks, South Ledge, is to be determined later by the countries when they sort out their territorial waters.
Malaysia had disputed Singapore’s rule of the 0.8-hectare (about the size of a football field) island listed on most maps as Pedra Branca.
The 16-member court’s final decision, by a 12-4 majority, rested largely on Singapore’s consistent conduct over the last 100 years.
Singapore had argued that it had exercised sovereign powers over the island since the Horsburgh lighthouse opened in 1851, with no protest from Malaysia until 30 years ago.
The ICJ also noted that the strength of Singapore’s claim lay in a letter sent by the state secretary of Johor in 1953 to the Singapore government where he informed that “the Johor government does not claim ownership of Pedra Branca”.
Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim called it a “win-win” ruling since each side won a partial victory.
“Resolving such disputes through the rule of law,” he said, “will make the world safer.”
He said the two countries would establish a committee to determine ownership of South Ledge, which lies in overlapping territorial waters. (NST Online, 24 May 2008)
Comment: With a stroke of a pen, Johore handed the sovereignty of Pulau Batu Puteh to Singapore, the undeniable historical fact. However Malaysia does not return from The Hague empty-handed as the Middle Rocks still stands tall and saves Malaysia from further diplomatic embarassment.Now all eyes are on the South Ledge. Will it be Malaysia's or Singapore's? No more diappointment please!