Friday, May 23, 2008

Pedra Branca Awarded to Singapore, Middle Rocks to Malaysia

It is official. The International Court of Justice (ICJ) at The Hague in the Netherlands has awarded sovereignty of Pedra Branca island to Singapore, while the sovereignty of Middle Rocks has been awarded to Malaysia in its judgement passed today. As for the South Ledge, the third islet under contention, the ICJ ruled that it belongs to the state in whose territorial waters it is located as Awn Shawkat Al-Khasawneh, the Acting President of International Court of Justice, elaborated that "The Court has not been mandated by the parties to draw the line of delimitation with respect to the territorial waters of Malaysia and Singapore in the area in question. In these circumstances, the court concludes that for the reasons explained above, sovereignty over South Ledge, as a low tide elevation, belongs to the State in the territorial waters of which it is located."

This verdict brings the 28-year row between Singapore and Malaysia to a close. The dispute arose in 1980 when Singapore protested against a new Malaysian map published in 1979 of its maritime boundaries, which claimed Pedra Branca, which Malaysia refers to as Pulau Batu Puteh, as part of Malaysian territory.

Based on reports that were carried by The Straits Times, Ambassador-at-large Tommy Koh would consider such a verdict a good outcome for Singapore since Pedra Branca is the largest and most significant of the three maritime features under contention and it hosts the Horsburgh Lighthouse which Singapore have been maintaining.

No more arguing over whether it is going to be Pedra Branca or Pulau Batu Puteh. From now on, it is Pedra Branca. Congratulations to Singapore!

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