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Sovereignty of disputed Pedra Branca

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    • M'sia files application for revision of ICJ's ruling on Pulau Batu Puteh sovereignty

      KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia filed an application yesterday for a revision of the International Court of Justice (ICJ)’s judgement on the sovereignty of the disputed Pedra Branca – also known as Pulau Batu Puteh – Middle Rocks and South Ledge.

      In a statement to the press, Attorney-General Tan Sri Mohamed Apandi Ali said the application, which was filed at the ICJ, The Hague, was made by Malaysia upon the discovery of a fact, of such a nature as to be a decisive factor, which was unknown to the Court and also to Malaysia, as the party claiming revision.

      “The discovery of the new facts is important and they should be ventilated in a court of law accordingly. Thus, as agreed to by both parties in the Special Agreement, the International Court of Justice is an appropriate forum for this.

      “We are also confident that the requirements, as stipulated under Article 61 of the statute of the International Court of Justice, have been met in that inter alia (among other things), the application for the revision is brought within six months of the discovery of the new fact and within ten years of the date of judgement,” Mohamed Apandi said.

      He continued to say that Malaysia’s application for a revision of the judgement is a continuation of the process embarked upon on May 9, 2003, by both Malaysia and Singapore, when both nations agreed to submit the dispute over the sovereignty of Pedra Blanca – or Pulau Batu Puteh – Middle Rocks and South Ledge, to the ICJ (“Special Agreement”).

      An online portal has reported that the dispute over the proprietorship of Pulau Batu Puteh dates back to the 1980s, when Malaysia published a map indicating the island to be in the country’s territory.

      The dispute had come to a close when the island was ruled to be Singaporean territory by the ICJ some nine years ago. The ICJ had found that Singapore investigated shipwrecks within Pulau Batu Puteh’s territorial waters, and granted or did not grant permission, to Malaysian officials to survey the waters surrounding the island.

      The ICJ had, among others, noted that Malaysia did not react to the flying of the Singapore flag on the island, and Singapore’s installation of military equipment on the island.

      The ICJ had also judged that sovereignty over the Middle Rocks is Malaysia’s, and refrained from awarding South Ledge to either Malaysia or Singapore.

       

      © New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd

    • Timing of Malaysian challenge on Pedra Branca could be way of 'garnering votes' ahead of elections: Experts

      SINGAPORE: Malaysia’s revival of a decades-old issue with Singapore over the islet of Pedra Branca could be a political manoeuvre ahead of elections, according to researchers and analysts specialising in relations between the neighbours.

      The rocky outpost 44km off Singapore’s east coast - referred to by Malaysia as Batu Puteh - was first claimed as Johor territory in 1979. Singapore protested, the matter was brought to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in 2003 and in 2008, Pedra Branca was ruled as under Singapore’s sovereignty.

      On Feb 2 this year, however, Malaysia applied to revise the judgment, claiming three newly unearthed documents in the National Archives of the United Kingdom (UK) demonstrated that officials at the highest levels “did not consider Singapore had sovereignty over Pedra Branca” during the 1950s to 1960s.

      Malaysia also said the three documents - found between Aug 4, 2016 and Jan 30, 2017 - were previously confidential and only made publicly available after the 2008 ruling. Channel NewsAsia understands the three documents were released around 2013.

      “The timing of the application is quite interesting,” said Dr Mustafa Izzudin, a fellow at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS)-Yusof Ishak Institute. “During Malaysia’s 2013 elections, Pedra Branca was brought up by the opposition to show that the UMNO (United Malays National Organisation) government was weak,” he observed. 

      “Perhaps this time round, UMNO will make use of this to show the Malaysian public that Najib’s leadership is strong in foreign policy and can safeguard the sovereignty of Malaysia. The timing does suggest it could be in the minds of policymakers in UMNO that it could be used as a way of garnering votes.”

      Noting the emergence of opposition - like the Democratic Action Party (DAP) - in support of reopening the case, Dr Mustafa said: “This could be an issue that rallies the Malaysian people, who are normally quite divided, as one.”

      Dr Bridget Welsh, a Southeast Asian political expert at Rome’s John Cabot University, said this opportunity to overturn the ruling would be taken to “full political advantage” by Malaysia. “One cannot get away from the fact that this issue will have domestic political implications and comes at the pre-election period,” she pointed out, adding that Prime Minister Najib Razak will use the issue "for political capital”.

      Research analyst David Han of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS) echoed this point. "Some politicians could seek to leverage this issue ... to boost their success in the coming elections and serve as a distraction from other more pressing domestic issues."

      But Associate Professor Kevin Blackburn, a historian at the National Institute of Education (NIE), suggested otherwise. ‘’Given the political problems the Barisan Nasional has already, something like this is small stuff that is unlikely to stoke up patriotism that they could possibly benefit from,” he said.

      In its application, Malaysia also noted it was submitting the documents before the lapse of a 10-year period for the case to be reviewed, from the judgement date of May 23, 2008.

      “It appears to be an act of desperation by the Malaysian team, to find new evidence when time is running out,” said Assoc Prof Blackburn. “They have to go with whatever documents that have come up.”

      Dr Mustafa agreed. "It could be an 11th-hour, last-ditch attempt. They’re trying to see if there are any loopholes,” he said.

      "VERY WEAK EVIDENCE"

      Malaysia's full application, released on Friday (Feb 10), showed the first document to be a 1958 telegram sent from the Singapore Governor to British colonial authorities, proposing an international high seas corridor a mile from Pedra Branca. Malaysia said there would have been no need for this if Singapore owned the waters surrounding the island, and concluded that the Governor “did not consider Pedra Branca to be part of Singaporean territory”.

      The second document, an incident report from 1958, cited the British navy refraining from aiding a Malaysian vessel near Pedra Branca as it “was still inside Johor territorial waters”. This showed the British military, responsible for Singapore’s defence at the time, “did not view the waters around Pedra Branca as belonging to Singapore”, said Malaysia.

      The third document, a map from 1962, delimits Singapore’s territorial waters and shows that they “did not extend to the vicinity of Pedra Branca”, said Malaysia. Further annotations made on the map in 1966 also demonstrate how Singapore regularly reviewed its maritime spaces but "never extended coverage to include Pedra Branca".

      Had the ICJ been aware of such evidence, said Malaysia, it “would have been bound to reach a different conclusion on the question of sovereignty over Pedra Branca”.

      Malaysia has also stated it believes its application fulfils the requirements under Article 61 of ICJ statutes, which detail requirements for a revision of an earlier decision. These include applying within six months of the discovery of the new fact, the aforementioned 10-year lapse, and making a claim based upon the discovery "of some fact of such a nature as to be a decisive factor" previously unknown to both the ICJ and Malaysia.

      The key question now, said Dr Mustafa, is how the new documents square with the pivotal consideration which swung the ICJ’s ruling in Singapore’s favour in 2008.

      This was a 1953 letter from Johor’s Acting State Secretary to Singapore’s Colonial Secretary which stated "the Johor government does not claim ownership of Pedra Branca".

      “It is not so much what new evidence Malaysia has stumbled upon, as important as it may be,” said Dr Mustafa. “But much more on how much weight and credibility that new information has when compared to past evidence presented to the ICJ.”

      Assoc Prof Blackburn said nothing in Malaysia’s new application was capable of trumping the 1953 letter.

      “Having the Johor government saying in black and white it had no sovereignty over the island is much stronger than these documents,” he said. “None of these new documents unequivocally says Pedra Branca is part of Johor … It’s all very weak evidence which doesn’t seem substantial.”

      For instance, referring to the 1958 naval incident report, Assoc Prof Blackburn argued that Pedra Branca being surrounded by Johor’s territorial waters did not mean the island was part of Johor.

      The same applied to the 1962 map, which he also called the weakest piece of evidence. “It is a map of Singapore and its surrounding waters. Pedra Branca is a long way from Singapore, so how could the map show Pedra Branca?” he questioned.

      “If it was large enough to show Pedra Branca, it could not possibly show much detail at all … which was clearly its purpose. Pedra Branca is just too far from Singapore to be realistically included, except as an insert.”

      He concluded that Malaysia’s best hope was to retrieve original documents from the mid-19th century - when the Horsburgh Lighthouse on Pedra Branca was built - and which would demonstrate any agreements Johor might have entered into with the British.

      AN ISSUE OF SOVEREIGNTY

      Nonetheless, the reopening of the dispute will not affect Causeway ties as there is an “amicable” sense to proceedings, said Dr Mustafa.

      “Malaysia-Singapore relations are at a high now; the best they’ve ever seen," he pointed out. "Malaysia did inform Singapore about reopening the case, in the spirit of neighbourliness."

      Assoc Prof Blackburn, however, countered that reopening the case went against recent advances in establishing goodwill and cooperation between Malaysia and Singapore. He cited the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High-Speed Rail project, which he said would require an “unprecedented, perfect relationship” between the two countries to work.

      “Still, this is a continuation of the various minor disputes Singapore and Malaysia have had since Singapore broke away from the Malaysian Federation in 1965,” he added. “There are regular disagreements over what is happening in the Johor Strait.”

      “The two countries are still bound together by shared languages, history and cultures, but because they are now two separate nation-states, they are naturally concerned with protecting their own sovereignty.”

      Said Dr Mustafa: “It’s about sovereignty and adherence to international law, which Singapore is a staunch proponent of. Pedra Branca fits in that narrative, hence our position on it. With Malaysia, it’s also an issue of sovereignty.”

      “For both countries, it’s about their territory and what belongs to them.” 

      - CNA/jo
    • Singapore ‘confident’ of its case on Pedra Branca: Vivian Balakrishnan

      SINGAPORE: Singapore is confident of its case against Malaysia's claim over Pedra Branca, Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan told Parliament on Thursday (Mar 2).

      He said its legal team “strongly believes” that the three documents relied on by Malaysia in their application to overturn a 2008 International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruling on Pedra Branca do not satisfy the criteria laid out for a revision of a judgement. "We are confident of our legal team and our case," he said.

      Speaking at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' Committee of Supply debate, Dr Balakrishnan noted that Malaysia had applied for a revision under Article 61 of the ICJ’s Statute and that several criteria must be met for a revision:

      - It must be based upon the discovery of facts which were unknown to the court and the party claiming revision when judgment was first given.

      - The newly-discovered facts must be decisive, and of such a character as to lay the case open to revision.

      - And an application for revision must be made at latest within six months of the discovery of the new fact, and within ten years of when the judgment was given.

      After careful study of Malaysia's application, Singapore's legal team believes the documents do not satisfy the criteria under Article 61. Singapore will submit its “comprehensive and compelling rebuttal” to Malaysia’s application by Jun 14, which is the time limit fixed by the ICJ, Dr Balakrishnan said.

      He added that Singapore is committed to resolving the issue amicably and in accordance with international law. “Bilateral relations with Malaysia therefore are good, will remain good, and we will continue on all our mutually-beneficial bilateral programmes,” he said.

      SINGAPORE’S BILATERAL RELATIONS WITH MALAYSIA ‘EXCELLENT’

      Dr Balakrishnan also told the House that Singaporeans should not be disconcerted by these developments. “Because even with the best of diplomatic and personal relations, we must expect other states to act in their own self-interests,” he said.

      He added that part of what underpins Singapore’s good relations with Malaysia is a commitment by both sides to resolve disagreements amicably in accordance with international law, while allowing mutually-beneficial cooperation to continue in the meantime.

      Dr Balakrishnan noted that Singapore has marked a new milestone in its relationship with Malaysia, with the signing of the agreement on the KL-Singapore High-Speed Rail (HSR) in Dec 2016.

      “In addition to the HSR, we’re also looking to sign a bilateral agreement on the Singapore-JB Rapid Transit System (RTS) this year,” he added. “This RTS will improve the flow of people and business between Singapore and Johor, and bring both sides closer together.”

      He stressed that on the whole, Singapore’s bilateral relations with Malaysia are “excellent.” “Other than these connectivity initiatives, the economic, the people-to-people ties remain strong,” he said. “We will continue to cooperate on security, defence and counter-terrorism.” 

      APPOINTMENT OF SINGAPORE’S JUDGE AD HOC

      In a separate press statement, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said under the Statute of the ICJ, if there is no judge of the nationality of the parties on the Bench of the Court, the parties may each choose a judge ad hoc who will take part in the decision of the case.

      MFA said Singapore has chosen Judge Gilbert Guillaume to sit as judge ad hoc for the purposes of Malaysia’s application to overturn the 2008 ICJ ruling.

      Judge Guillaume was a member of the ICJ from 1987 to 2005, and served as its President from 2000 to 2003, added MFA. He is currently a member of the Permanent Court of Arbitration.

      HISTORY OF THE CASE

      In 2003, Singapore and Malaysia had agreed to submit the case concerning sovereignty over Pedra Branca, Middle Rocks and South Ledge to the ICJ. The ICJ had ruled in 2008 that Singapore had sovereignty over Pedra Branca, while Middle Rocks was awarded to Malaysia and South Ledge belonged to the state in whose territorial waters it is located.

      On Feb 2, however, Malaysia applied to revise the judgment, claiming “a new fact” unearthed from three documents discovered in the National Archives of the United Kingdom between Aug 4, 2016 and Jan 30, 2017.

      The first document is a confidential telegram in 1958 from the Governor of Singapore to the British secretary of state for the colonies. The second document is a naval incident report from 1958 citing the British navy’s inability to assist a Malaysian vessel being followed by an Indonesian gunboat near Pedra Branca as it “was still inside Johor territorial waters”.

      The third document is a map dated 1962 but with handwritten annotations from 1966 which showed that Singapore’s territorial waters “do not extend to the vicinity of Pedra Branca”, according to Malaysia.

      - CNA/lc
    • Pedra Branca judgment: Singapore files written observations to ICJ

      SINGAPORE: Singapore has filed its written observations on the admissibility of Malaysia's application to revise the International Court of Justice (ICJ)'s judgment in the case concerning sovereignty over Pedra Branca, Middle Rocks and South Ledge, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Thursday (May 25) in a media release. 

      "Singapore’s written observations are a comprehensive rebuttal to Malaysia’s application. Singapore is confident of our case and our legal team. The next step is for the Parties to present their oral arguments after the ICJ has fixed the schedule for the oral proceedings," MFA said. 

      Singapore had said in March that it was confident of its case against Malaysia's claim over Pedra Branca, as they do not satisfy the criteria laid out for a revision of judgment. Minister for Foreign Affairs Vivian Balakrishnan said in Parliament on Mar 2 that Singapore will submit its rebuttal to Malaysia's application by Jun 14. 

      In 2003, Singapore and Malaysia had agreed to submit the case concerning sovereignty over Pedra Branca, Middle Rocks and South Ledge to the ICJ. The ICJ  ruled in 2008 that Singapore had sovereignty over Pedra Branca, while Middle Rocks was awarded to Malaysia and South Ledge belonged to the state in whose territorial waters it is located.

      On Feb 2, Malaysia applied to revise the judgment, claiming to have found “a new fact” unearthed from three documents discovered in the National Archives of the United Kingdom between Aug 4, 2016 and Jan 30, 2017.

       

      Source: CNA/dl

    • Malaysia files new application to ICJ on Pedra Branca ruling; Singapore says it's 'without merit'

      THE HAGUE: Malaysia on Friday (Jun 30) filed an application requesting interpretation of the judgment delivered by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in 2008 over the sovereignty of Pedra Branca, in a move Singapore has called "puzzling".

      This is “separate and autonomous” from an application in February seeking revision of the ICJ judgment, Malaysia said. On May 23, 2008, the ICJ ruled that Singapore had sovereignty over Pedra Branca, while Middle Rocks was awarded to Malaysia. South Ledge belonged to the state in whose territorial waters it is located, the ICJ found.

      On Feb 2, Malaysia applied to revise the judgment, claiming to have found “a new fact” unearthed from three documents discovered in the National Archives of the United Kingdom between Aug 4, 2016 and Jan 30, 2017.

      In a press release issued on Friday, the ICJ said Malaysia had invoked Article 60 of the Statute of the Court as its basis for a request for interpretation. The article states that “in the event of a dispute as to the meaning or scope of the judgment, the Court shall construe it upon the request of any party”.

      The statement added: “The applicant explains that ‘Malaysia and Singapore have attempted to implement the 2008 judgment through co-operative processes’.

      “To that end, they established the Malaysia-Singapore Joint Technical Committee (MSJTC) on the implementation of the Court’s 2008 judgment, which was inter alia tasked with addressing ‘the delimitation of the maritime boundaries between the territorial waters of both countries’.

      “According to Malaysia, the MSJTC reached an impasse in November 2013. Malaysia asserts that 'one reason of this impasse is that the parties have been unable to agree over the meaning of the 2008 judgment as it concerns South Ledge and the waters surrounding Pedra Branca'.

      According to its latest application, Malaysia has indicated that “the parties have been unable to agree on the meaning and/or scope” of the following two points of the 2008 judgment:

      (1) the Court’s finding that “sovereignty over Pedra Branca belongs to Singapore’; and

      (2) the Court’s finding that ‘sovereignty over South Ledge belongs to the State in the territorial waters of which it is located’”.

      Malaysia added in its application that “the ongoing uncertainty” as to which state is sovereign over the disputed areas “continues to complicate the task of ensuring orderly and peaceful relations”.

      It added that “the need to achieve a viable solution to this dispute is pressing”, considering the “high volume of aerial and maritime traffic in the area”.

      As such, Malaysia has requested the ICJ declare that “the waters surrounding Pedra Branca remain within the territorial waters of Malaysia”, and that South Ledge is “located in the territorial waters of Malaysia and consequently sovereignty over South Ledge belong to Malaysia”.

      MALAYSIA’S APPLICATION "UNNECESSARY AND WITHOUT MERIT": SINGAPORE

      Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) noted in a press statement on Saturday that the ICJ's 2008 judgment was “final and without appeal”. It was also "clear and unambiguous", MFA said.

      "Malaysia's request for the ICJ to interpret the judgment is puzzling. Singapore will therefore oppose Malaysia's application for interpretation, which we consider to be both unnecessary and without merit".

      MFA said Singapore will file its written observations on Malaysia's latest interpretation application "in due course".

      "Just as we are confident of our case on the revision application, we are also confident that we are on strong grounds to oppose this latest application by Malaysia for interpretation. Singapore is committed to resolving these issues in accordance with international law," it added in the statement.

      On Mar 2, Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan told Parliament that Singapore was confident of its case against Malaysia's Feb 2 claim to the ICJ, as it does not satisfy the criteria laid out for a revision of judgment, he said.

       

      Source: CNA/rw/mz

    • Malaysia throwing 'the kitchen sink’ with second Pedra Branca challenge, say experts

      SINGAPORE: Malaysia’s second attempt to contest Singapore’s sovereignty over Pedra Branca within the space of four months points to a bid to “do what they can” against a backdrop of domestic political factors, said experts on international law, politics and history.

      On Jun 30, Malaysia filed an application to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) requesting interpretation of a 2008 judgment which awarded sovereignty of Pedra Branca to Singapore, nearby islet Middle Rocks to Malaysia and the South Ledge outcrop to “the state in whose territorial waters it is located”.

      Malaysia’s new application claims South Ledge, along with the waters surrounding Pedra Branca, as located within its territorial waters.

      This is "separate and autonomous to" an earlier application in February seeking revision of the same ICJ judgment, which hinged on Malaysia presenting three newly discovered documents to argue Singapore’s ownership of Pedra Branca.

      “These two applications … can, in one sense, be seen as thorough work by lawyers,” said Professor Simon Chesterman, dean of the National University of Singapore’s law faculty.

      “But they also suggest an effort to leave no stone unturned. Even if the ICJ rejects both applications, which seems likely, they would deflect any suggestion that Malaysia’s lawyers did not explore every possible means of overturning or at least challenging the 2008 decision.”

      But he said the two applications, which come before the May 23, 2018 deadline for a revision request, had “a whiff of the kitchen sink about them”.

      “Malaysia is throwing every possible argument at the Court in the hope of getting a preferable outcome – or at least not being seen as failing to do so for want of trying,” said Prof Chesterman, a known authority on international law.

      Dr Mustafa Izzuddin, fellow at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS)-Yusof Ishak Institute, agreed.

      “As with the case in Malaysia's application in February, the latest application does not seem to hold water and is unlikely to stand up to scrutiny. Singapore's position remains sound and principled ... under the auspices of international law, and thus, it is extremely unlikely that there will be changes to the 2008 ICJ judgment,” he observed.

      “There is a realistic recognition on the part of Malaysian policymakers that the ICJ will not reverse its judgment on Pedra Branca belonging to Singapore. So what they are hoping to do instead is to get the most out of the adjudication, by getting the ICJ to rule that the waters around Pedra Branca as well as the sovereignty of South Ledge belong to Malaysia.”

      REVISION VS INTERPRETATION

      Prof Chesterman also explained the difference between Malaysia’s February “revision” application and the June “interpretation” application.

      The former seeks to overturn the 2008 decision giving Pedra Branca to Singapore, but there is no historical precedent - all three previous attempts to use this procedure at the ICJ have failed, noted the professor.

      “The more recent application … is an alternative approach that does not challenge the 2008 decision but says that it was unclear in its meaning and scope.” He said this “interpretation” approach has been used with success in the past, most recently by Cambodia in 2013 for a 1962 decision relating to a temple sitting on its border with Thailand.

      But this type of application cannot be used to ask the ICJ “to decide something new” - which is what Malaysia is doing.

      “Since the 2008 Pedra Branca case explicitly excluded the maritime boundary between Malaysia and Singapore, it is not clear how a request to find that (Pedra Branca’s surrounding) waters belong to Malaysia is merely an ‘interpretation’ of that earlier decision.”

      “Though interpretations are usually nuances on the original case, here a finding on territorial waters could be of vastly greater significance than who owns the lighthouse and the rocks.”

      Added Prof Chesterman: “An additional complication is that Indonesia may also have a claim to the relevant waters.”

      “A TACTICAL GAMBIT”

      Associate Professor Kevin Blackburn, a historian at the National Institute of Education (NIE), pointed to another complexity arising from the 2008 ruling, this time centered on South Ledge.

      “These rocks are very close together and present problems in drawing up maritime boundaries. However, these really just required cooperation between Singapore and Malaysia to solve.”

      To that end, a Malaysia-Singapore Joint Technical Committee (MSJTC) was set up. But in full documents released by ICJ in mid-July, Malaysia said the committee “failed to achieve its stated aims” with an “impasse” and “deadlock” since November 2013.

      “Throughout the post-judgment period, both Malaysia and Singapore have issued a large number of official protests in respect of incidents alleged to have taken place on, over and around South Ledge, as well as in the disputed waters surrounding Pedra Branca and the airspace above these waters,” Malaysia added.

      “The ongoing uncertainty as to which state is sovereign over South Ledge and the airspace and maritime spaces over and around both South Ledge and Pedra Branca continues to complicate the task of ensuring orderly and peaceful relations. Given the high volume of aerial and maritime traffic in the area, the need to achieve a viable solution to this dispute is pressing.”

      This claim, said Dr Mustafa, is “a tactical gambit to compel and convince the ICJ to rule, in Malaysia's favour”.

      “LOSE PEDRA BRANCA, GAIN EVERYTHING ELSE”

      According to Dr Mustafa, Malaysia’s new application represents a willingness to “lose Pedra Branca but gain everything else”.

      This would still “satisfy the domestic populace in the UMNO-led government's efforts to protect Malaysia's territorial integrity”, he explained, referring to the United Malays National Organisation.

      Calling the second submission in June “a deliberative strategic attempt on the part of the Malaysian authorities to keep the Pedra Branca issue alive for domestic consumption”, Dr Mustafa reiterated what he told Channel NewsAsia in February: “It does not escape notice that the elections are round the corner in Malaysia.”

      Not giving up on Pedra Branca is perhaps a way of appeasing the electorate, and in particular the more nationalistic voters, most of whom are Malays, noted the expert on party politics in Malaysia.

      “Not to mention that Johor, which has the greatest vested interest in reclaiming Pedra Branca, is a stronghold of UMNO and therefore, crucial in electoral terms for the current government to be returned to power after the elections,” said Dr Mustafa. “Even more so considering that the newly formed Bersatu party are working hard to make inroads into the Johorean State.”

      “GOOD NEIGHBOURS DON’T KEEP TAKING EACH OTHER TO COURT”

      Dr Mustafa also held firm to an earlier belief shared with Channel NewsAsia - that an “amicable” solution to the Pedra Branca issue would be found.

      “Because of the existing positive atmospherics in Malaysia-Singapore relations, mutual bilateral cooperation based on political trust is still more likely. There is no danger of a derailment, or worse still, a rupture in Malaysia-Singapore relations,” he said.

      But Assoc Prof Blackburn said Malaysia’s second application only served to reinforce what he saw as historical baggage with Singapore.

      “Even though Malaysia is seeking to resolve the issue peacefully through international law, it is analogous to a situation where your neighbour is taking you to court again to settle a property boundary line dispute because he did not get the result he wanted the first time.”

      “Good neighbours don't keep taking each other to court.”

      “The 2008 case should have settled it,” he said. “Of course, Malaysia is just exercising its rights within international law. And other nation-states that have been good friends have used the international courts to resolve their disputes.

      “But to come back for a second time does indicate it is part of a long run of disputes that go back to the separation of the two countries in 1965.”


       
      Source: CNA/ek

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