PETALING JAYA: Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad unilaterally instructed that Malaysia’s challenge at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) over its 2008 judgment awarding sovereignty of Pedra Branca to Singapore be discontinued, former attorney-general Mohamed Apandi Ali said in comments shared by Najib Razak on his Facebook.
Apandi said the decision was made during the period when he was forced to take leave, days after the change of government on May 9.
“During my leave, Tun Mahathir made the decision to retract the case at ICJ without referring to me or the Cabinet. At that time, the team of lawyers including several Queen’s Counsels were ready to present their argument at The Hague,” Apandi said.
He was responding to Najib’s comments on Facebook accusing Pakatan Harapan (PH) of inconsistency in its stand on Pedra Branca, which Malaysia refers to as Pulau Batu Puteh.
Less than three weeks after the general election, ICJ said Malaysia had in a letter dated May 28 given notice of its agreement to discontinue proceedings seeking to overturn its ruling over the tiny island off Johor.
As a result, the hearings which were scheduled to start on June 11 were cancelled.
Malaysia lodged the challenge in 2017, based on what it said were new documents discovered in British archives backing its claim to Pedra Branca.
ICJ had awarded the football-field sized island to Singapore in a 2008 decision.
Yesterday, Deputy Foreign Minister Marzuki Yahya told the Dewan Rakyat that Putrajaya would submit a judicial review on Batu Puteh and two other islets – Batuan Tengah (Middle Rocks) and Tubir Selatan (South Ledge) – at the ICJ.
The court had ruled that the sovereignty of Tubir Selatan would be determined by both countries through discussions.
Apandi said the decision to drop the case meant that Malaysia “has forever lost its sovereignty over Pulau Batu Puteh”.
“It is very sad, but there is nothing that can be done, (it was) a decision by the person in power,” he wrote.
Apandi was told to go on leave just days after the historic general election, as the PH government announced investigations into public officers who had served under the Najib administration.
In June 2018, he was replaced by Tommy Thomas.