Wednesday, May 14, 2008

ICJ To Decide On May 23 Sovereignty Of Pulau Batu Puteh

International Court Of Justice

Six months after the end of the hearing of oral submissions over the sovereignty of Pulau Batu Puteh, Middle Rocks and South Ledge, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) is set to decide which country - Malaysia or Singapore -- should have sovereignty over the disputed island and the two marine features.

The ICJ, which is based at The Hague in the Netherlands, will give its verdict on May 23, bringing to a close a 28-year-old territorial dispute over the island and the two features.

The court heard lengthy submissions from both countries from Nov 6 to 23 last year.

Malaysia and Singapore had pledged to abide by the decision of the ICJ, the principal judicial organ of the United Nations, whose decision is final and not subject to appeal.

Both the Malaysian foreign minister, Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim, and his Singapore counterpart, George Yeo, had said the outcome of the case would not strain ties between the two neighbours.

The dispute was brought to the ICJ after the two countries signed a special agreement in February 2003 requesting the court to rule over the dispute which had started in February 1980 when Singapore protested against a Malaysian map of its boundaries published in 1979 which showed Pulau Batu Puteh as belonging to Malaysia.

Singapores protest led to an exchange of correspondence and subsequently a series of inter-governmental talks in 1993 and 1994 at which the respective positions of the two countries were developed, but without any conclusion.

Subsequently, it was agreed that the dispute on Pulau Batu Puteh, the size of a football field which lies 7.7 nautical miles (nm) from the Malaysian mainland but 25.5nm over the sea from Singapore, and the two marine features should be decided by the ICJ.

During the proceedings Malaysia and Singapore had argued their cases backed by voluminous documents and eloquent submissions presented by each country which included international lawyers.

Singapore argued before the 16-member panel of judges that Pulau Batu Puteh was terra nullius (No Mans Land) when Britain took possession of it from 1847 to 1851.

The island republic contended that it had conducted various activities there for over 150 years to show that it had exercised sovereignty powers on Pulau Batu Puteh, which it calls Pedra Branca (White Rock in Portuguese) while Malaysia had not done so.

Malaysia brushed aside Singapores claim that the island was terra nullius, saying that the claim was flawed.

It stressed that Johor had the original title to the island and the two marine features since time immemorial and that Britain was merely given permission by the Johor Sultanate to build the Horsburgh lighthouse on the island.

Singapore was merely the administrator of the lighthouse built on Pulau Batu Puteh and activities that have taken place there were just acts required of a lighthouse administrator, Malaysia argued.

Britains activities in relation to the Horsburgh lighthouse and the island after 1851 were purely operational and did not reflect any intention to acquire sovereignty over the island, the Malaysian team said.

It said that Singapores activities in respect of the lighthouse did not amount to a conduct of sovereignty as claimed by the republic.

Malaysias international lawyer Sir Elihu Lauterpacht pointed out to the court that once it was established that Pulau Batu Puteh was not terra nullius in 1847, then it must have been regarded as subject to Johor's sovereignty and that would be the end of Singapore's case.

This was because Singapore itself had declared that it rested its case upon the basis that it acquired the title to Pulau Batu Puteh by taking possession of the island as a terra nullius, he had submitted.

The Malaysian team was led by Tan Sri Abdul Kadir Mohamad, the Prime Minister's Adviser on Foreign Affairs, who was also the countrys agent for the case, while Datuk Noor Farida Ariffin, the Malaysian ambassador to the Netherlands, was the co-agent.

Others were Attorney-General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail and Malaysias team of international lawyers.

They were, Sir Elihu and James Crawford, both professors in International Law at the Cambridge University; Nicolaas Jan Schrijver, professor of Public International Law, Leiden University; Marcelo G. Kohen, professor of International Law, the Graduate Institute of International Studies, Geneva; and Penelope Nevill, college lecturer, Downing College, Cambridge University.

Singapores team was led by Tommy Koh Ambassador-at-Large, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who was the republics agent for the case.

Also part of the team were its Deputy Prime Minister S. Jayakumar, Chief Justice Chan Sek Keong, Attorney-General Chao Hick Tin and the country's team of international lawyers.

The ICJs verdict will be delivered by the Vice-President of the Court, Judge Awn Shawkat Al-Khasawneh, who was the Acting President in the case.

The 16 judges included two ad hoc judges appointed by Malaysia and Singapore. Malaysia appointed Christopher S.R. Dugard of South Africa and Singapore, Pemmaraju Sreenivasa Rao of India. (Bernama)

***** Will Malaysia win? I certainly hope so.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

What?! Malaysia hired JEWS for its legal team?! Tsk, tsk, tsk. I hear the sound of wings on pigs flapping. So why aren't the 1001 rent-a-mob Islamic NGOs playing this issue up?

3:44 PM GMT+8  
Blogger kittykat46 said...

Hahaha, Elihu Lauterpacht is certainly a very kosher Jewish name...

Unfortunately Bolehland is likely to lose this case...most international law rulings tend towards Current Occupier, unless it was taken by force in recent history.

Why did Bolehland allow Sing. to occupy it withou protest for Umpteemth years ? The principle of Condonation also applies here.

5:17 PM GMT+8  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

actually I will not be surprise if Malaysia wins ... however, very malu given the way we went about it


10:40 PM GMT+8  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It all depends to the Will of Allah the Supreme God of Mankind.
If Allah so Wills Malaysia will gain sovereignty of the Islands or Allah so wills Singapore
will gain sovereignty of the Islands.
According to Islam a dried Leaf will never fall from the Tree without the knowledge of Allah.
Therefore we will wait and see as to which country will gain Ownership of the Disputed Islands on 23.05.2008 at 10.00am at the ICJ in the Hague.
So the Decision is with Allah the Supreme God of Mankind.

9:10 AM GMT+8  

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