Malaysia withdraws ICJ challenge on Pedra Branca, ceding rights for future revision to 2008 ruling

ICJ had ruled on May 23, 2008, that Singapore had sovereignty over Pedra Branca, located some 24 nautical miles to the east of the Republic. — Reuters pic
ICJ had ruled on May 23, 2008, that Singapore had sovereignty over Pedra Branca, located some 24 nautical miles to the east of the Republic. — Reuters pic

SINGAPORE, May 30 — Malaysia has withdrawn its bid to challenge the International Court of Justice’s (ICJ) 2008 ruling on Pedra Branca, ceding for good its right in seeking to revise the decision to award sovereignty of the island to Singapore.

Under ICJ rules, an application for a revision of ruling must be made within six months of the discovery of a new fact and within 10 years of the date of the judgement.

ICJ had ruled on May 23, 2008, that Singapore had sovereignty over Pedra Branca, located some 24 nautical miles to the east of the Republic.

With the 10-year deadline over, Malaysia will no longer be able to file another challenge in the future.

Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had told reporters today that Malaysia was “rethinking” its challenge to the 2008 Pedra Branca judgement that it filed in February last year.

The challenge followed what Malaysia claimed was the discovery of new facts from three documents discovered in the United Kingdom’s national archive.

Four months later, Putrajaya filed another application asking the ICJ to interpret its ruling on Pedra Branca.

ICJ had scheduled eight days of hearing from June 11 to 22 on the two applications.

The row over the ownership of Pedra Branca dates back to 1979, when Malaysia published a map indicating the island to be within the country’s territorial waters.

Singapore lodged a formal protest with Malaysia in early 1980.

It took more than 20 years for the dispute to be brought before the ICJ in July 2003.

In its 2008 ruling, ICJ had awarded Middle Rocks — a maritime feature to the south of Pedra Branca — to Malaysia.

But the court refrained from awarding South Ledge, also to the south of Pedra Branca, to either Malaysia or Singapore, ruling that it belonged to the state in whose territorial waters it is located.

In its filings last year, Malaysia had claimed that both countries had been unable to agree over the judgment pertaining to Pedra Branca and South Ledge.

Singapore filed a rebuttal to Malaysia’s first application on May 24 and in late October, the Republic filed a second rebuttal.

Singapore has said that it is confident of its case and found Malaysia’s second application groundless.

“In our view, the ICJ judgment is clear and unambiguous. Malaysia’s request for the ICJ to interpret the judgement is puzzling,” said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs last year.

“Singapore will therefore oppose Malaysia’s application for interpretation, which we consider to be both unnecessary and without merit.”

The MFA added that the ICJ’s judgment is final and without appeal and that both countries had agreed to honour and abide by it and had established a Malaysia-Singapore Joint Technical Committee (MSJTC) to implement the court’s judgment.

The ICJ said that in its second application, Malaysia claimed that the MSJTC had reached an impasse in November 2013. — TODAY

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