Earlier this week, Malaysia-Singapore Joint Technical Committee (MSJTC), met in a retreat to begin negotiations on delimiting maritime boundaries around Pedra Branca, Middle Rocks and South Ledge. Singapore was led by Mr Chee Wee Kiong, Permanent Secretary of Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, whereas his counterpart, Datuk Seri Muhammad Shahrul Ikram Yaakob headed Malaysian delegation.
On Wednesday, in a joint statement, published on the official site of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Singapore Foreign Minister, Vivian Balakrishnan and his Malaysian counterpart, Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah, said both sides will continue discussions over the sovereignty of Pedra Branca as well as two other maritime features.
According to the statement, the meeting is a follow-up joint action on the implementation of the International Court of Justice’s (ICJ) judgment. The meeting has agreed for the formation of a Sub-Committee on Maritime Boundary Delimitation of Pedra Branca, Middle Rocks and South Ledge to start negotiations.
The aforementioned statement noted that the 9th MSJTC meeting will take place in Singapore before the next Leaders’ Retreat.
Malaysia accepts ICJ ruling over Pedra Branca, says PM MAHATHIR
Last year, in a speech by the Malaysian Prime Minister, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad at the 33rd Asia-Pacific Roundtable, disclosed that Malaysia has accepted ICJ’s court ruling.
In the course of his speech, the Malaysian PM remarked that “Member states do not need to agree on everything to work well together”.
He emphasized that what mattered was the sharing of principles, mutual respect, cooperation, sovereign equality with the underlying interest of common regional prosperity and well-being.
Dr Mahathir added that there will always be a need for negotiations when it comes to disputes between countries. If this fails, the matter is brought to the ICJ, whose decisions must be abided by all parties.
The prolong dispute over Pedra Branca between Singapore and Malaysia
Located approximately 40 kilometers off eastern Singapore, Malaysia had staked a claim to Pedra Branca as it published a map of its territorial waters and continental shelf boundaries, back in 1979.
Following this, Singapore had protested this in 1980 subsequently bringing the issue to the ICJ in 2003.
After careful deliberation, five years later, the ICJ awarded sovereignty of Pedra Branca to Singapore leaving the Middle Rocks to Malaysia.
The Malaysian PM reiterated that Malaysia had won overlapping claims with Indonesia, in the Ligitan and Sipadan dispute but lost to the territorial claim by Singapore over Pedra Branca.
He acknowledges that all parties have accepted the court’s decision despite feeling lost over the disputed claims of territory.