Govt to submit judicial review on Pulau Batu Puteh claim

Pedra Branca, or known as Pulau Batu Puteh to Malaysia, is 19km from the Johor coast. (File pic.)

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia will submit to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) a judicial review on the Pedra Branca judgment, which saw the tiny disputed island awarded to Singapore in 2008.

The isle, which is called Pulau Batu Puteh by Malaysia, is about 40km from Singapore and 19km from the coast of Johor.

Deputy Foreign Minister Marzuki Yahya told the Dewan Rakyat today the government will submit a judicial review on Batu Puteh and two other islets – Batuan Tengah (Middle Rocks) and Tubir Selatan (South Ledge) – at the ICJ.

“We are committed to the cause. We will proceed,” he said when replying to a question by Ahmad Maslan (BN-Pontian) on whether the case had been dropped.

On May 23, 2008, the ICJ decided that Pulau Batu Puteh, a football-field sized rocky outcrop, belongs to Singapore, and Batuan Tengah is owned by Malaysia.

The ICJ also ruled that the sovereignty of Tubir Selatan will be determined by both countries through discussions on their respective water boundaries.

Malaysia had, on Feb 3, 2017, filed for a revision of the ICJ’s ruling on Pulau Batu Puteh.

A second application followed on June 30 that year after Putrajaya claimed it had discovered three documents in the United Kingdom’s national archives which needed the attention of the ICJ.

They included a confidential telegram in 1958 sent by the then governor of Singapore to the secretary of state for the colonies in London, which reportedly showed that he “did not consider the island of Pedra Branca/Pulau Batu Puteh to be part of Singaporean territory”.

However, on May 30, 2018, the ICJ was reported as confirming that Malaysia had withdrawn itself from its review bid, which was slated to take place from June 11 to 22 that year.

To date, the Joint Ministerial Committee for Iskandar Malaysia (JMCIM) has held talks seven times on the Pulau Batu Puteh and Batuan Tengah maritime restrictions.

The next meeting is expected to take place in Malaysia in October.

The negotiation process was delayed earlier when Malaysia filed its judicial review over the sovereignity of Pulau Batu Puteh.