The International Court of Justice (ICJ) has announced the details of Malaysia’s application to challenge a 2008 judgement to award sovereignty of Pedra Branca to Singapore.
Malaysia filed an Application on 2 February for revision of the Judgment delivered by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on 23 May 2008 in the case concerning Sovereignty over Pedra Branca, or Pulau Batu Puteh as Malaysia referred to, Middle Rocks and South Ledge.
It is recalled that, in that Judgment, the Court found that sovereignty over Pedra Branca/Pulau Batu Puteh belongs to Singapore, sovereignty over Middle Rocks belongs to Malaysia and sovereignty over South Ledge belongs to the State in the territorial waters of which it is located
Malaysia seeks revision of the finding of the Judgment regarding sovereignty over Pedra Branca/Pulau Batu Puteh after it had found a new fact unearthed from three documents discovered in the National Archives of the United Kingdom (UK) between 4 August 2016 and 30 January 2017, which are internal correspondence of the Singapore colonial authorities in 1958, an incident report filed in 1958 by a British naval officer and an annotated map of naval operations from the 1960s.
Malaysia stated that the founding would have had resulted in a “different conclusion” by the court.
It also noted in its filling that the documents indicate that in the critical years following the 1953 correspondence, Singapore officials at the highest levels did not consider that Singapore had acquired sovereignty over Pedra Branca from Johor.
The correspondence refers to a letter from Johor’s Acting State Secretary to Singapore’s Colonial Secretary. It stated that “the Johor government does not claim ownership of Pedra Branca”, which had become the key consideration in the 2008 ruling.
The first document discovered is a confidential telegram from the Governor of Singapore to the British secretary of state for the colonies in 1958.
The telegram proposed the establishment of an international high seas corridor one mile from Pedra Branca.
Malaysia stated that this showed the Governor “did not consider the island of Pedra Branca to be part of Singaporean territory”, saying, “If he had understood, or otherwise been advised, that Pedra Branca was under Singaporean sovereignty, there would not have been a need for him to advocate the provision of an international passage so near to the island.”
It added that the telegram was released by the UK government in 2013. However, it noted that it “would have been known to Singapore at the time of court proceedings in 2008 as the document originates from Singapore”.
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 document said that this showed that the British authorities “did not view the waters around Pedra Branca/Pulau Batu Puteh as belonging to Singapore.”
The third article is a map. It dated 1962 but with markings dated February 1966 that the Malaysian filing said showed Singapore’s territorial waters “do not extend to the vicinity of Pedra Branca/Pulau Batu Puteh”.
Malaysia then claims that during the relevant period, the three documents establish the new fact that “officials at the highest levels in the British colonial and Singaporean administration appreciated that Pedra Branca/Pulau Batu Puteh did not form part of Singapore’s sovereign territory”.
Malaysia said, “It is Malaysia’s contention, informed by a close reading of the judgment in 2008 and its accompanying opinions, that the court would have been bound to reach a different conclusion on the question of sovereignty over Pedra Branca had it been aware of this new evidence.”
A legal team has been formed to respond to Malaysia’s application to review a 2008 judgement by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) over the award of Pedra Branca to Singapore.
The Ministry also said that it is studying Malaysia’s application and documentation closely.