KUALA LUMPUR, July 3 — The Malaysian government had prepared its case against the International Court of Justice (ICJ) decision granting Singapore sovereignty over Pulau Batu Puteh, Tan Sri Apandi Ali claimed before adding this was inexplicably dropped.
The former attorney general asserted that the matter would have been heard on June 11 last year, but the prime minister chose to discontinue this when Apandi was put on leave after Pakatan Harapan’s general election victory last year.
He was eventually replaced by Tommy Thomas.
“Tun Mahathir made the decision to withdraw the referral to the ICJ without consulting me or the Cabinet,” he wrote in a comment on former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s Facebook page.
“At the time, a team of litigators including several QCs (Queen’s Counsel) was prepared to argue at The Hague. By withdrawing the case referral, we have lost sovereignty over Pulau Batu Puteh forever.”
Pulau Batu Puteh, or Pedra Branca as it is now known, was a disputed island claimed by Malaysia and Singapore since 1979, when Malaysia published a map indicating the island to be within the country’s territory.
This led to a nearly three-decade dispute with Singapore that was finally ended when the island was ruled to be Singaporean territory by the ICJ in 2008.
The previous Barisan Nasional's (BN) administration had directed Apandi to renew the clam by seeking a review of the 2008 ruling.
In his speech at the 33rd Asia-Pacific Roundtable here last month, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said Malaysia still felt strongly about Pulau Batu Puteh but accepted the ICJ decision.