PUTRAJAYA, MALAYSIA — Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said a White Paper on Pedra Branca (Pulau Batu Puteh) will be prepared and tabled in Parliament for further action.
“This is because of the special task force’s report protested the (government’s) decision not to appeal (the 2008 International Court of Justice (ICJ) decision) which caused Malaysia to lose its territory (Batu Puteh), and you know that in any country, losing territory is a huge problem,” Mr Anwar explained.
However, he said he had assured Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong that the decision made by Malaysia would not affect the good bilateral relations between the two countries.
“(It also) does not affect the status of Batu Puteh, which now belongs to Singapore according to the ICJ decision.”
During a press conference after chairing the Cabinet meeting on Wednesday (8 Feby), Mr Anwar announced that the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Law and Institutional Reform), Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said, will be preparing the paper.
“The Cabinet discussed at length the measures that should be taken, and now we decided to leave it to the wisdom of the parliament after providing complete information with the real situation,” he added.
Malaysia’s next parliamentary sitting is scheduled to begin its first sitting on 13 February.
The prolong dispute over Pedra Branca between Singapore and Malaysia
Located approximately 40 kilometres off eastern Singapore, Malaysia had staked a claim to Batu Puteh as it published a map of its territorial waters and continental shelf boundaries back in 1979.
Following this, Singapore protested this in 1980, subsequently bringing the issue to the ICJ in 2003.
After careful deliberation, five years later, the ICJ awarded the sovereignty of Batu Puteh to Singapore, leaving the Middle Rocks ((Batuan Tengah)) to Malaysia.
The then Barisan Nasional government filed an application in 2017 for a review of ICJ’s decision.
In 2018, as advised by then-AG Tan Sri Tommy Thomas, the Pakatan Harapan government led by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad decided to withdraw the application before the case was heard on 11 June that year.
On 27 January this year, Attorney General Tan Sri Idrus Harun revealed that Unity Government Cabinet was of the view that the decision to withdraw the application was “not in order” and “improper”.
Mr Anwar had earlier urged Singapore to examine the reclamations carried out in the Batu Puteh area to ensure they were not affecting the environment and the country’s borders with Malaysia.