Friday, May 23, 2008

A quick response to the ICJ judgment on the Pedra Branca sovereignty issue

In case you all are not aware yet, it has been announced by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) earlier today that while "sovereignty over Pedra Branca/Pulau Batu Puteh belongs to the Republic of Singapore", "sovereignty over Middle Rocks belongs to Malaysia". As for South Ledge, sovereignty over it "belongs to the State in the territorial waters of which it is located".

Hmm... Looking at the above, it would appear that the worst outcome which I have earlier described here has materialised.

Specifically, I wrote the following...

"And as for the perhaps unlikely scenario of the ICJ granting sovereignty over the main island of Pedra Branca to either Singapore or Malaysia while giving control over the nearby Middle Rocks and South Ledge to the other side, it can be observed that although this may appears to be a most equitable outcome for both sides, it perhaps is the worst scenario compared to the two already discussed above. This is considering that such a scenario would mean that the Pedra Branca sovereignty issue will not be considered as fully resolved. Also, with such a scenario, it may mean that the possibility of future confrontations between both countries in the Pedra Branca region would most likely escalate, considering that naval boats and other vessels from both sides would be operating, in close proximity, in the same region.

Hence, should the ICJ decide to split control over the Pedra Branca region between Singapore and Malaysia, the issue would continue to remain as an “irritant” in Singapore-Malaysia bilateral relations"

In fact, it can be clearly observed that by saying that sovereignty over South Ledge "belongs to the State in the territorial waters of which it is located", the ICJ may perhaps created a situation in which there would be a continued dispute over the issue of which state has sovereignty over South Ledge.

Hence, considering the above, it is evident that the Pedra Branca sovereignty issue has unfortunately mutated into "the South Ledge sovereignty issue". In other words, the issue remains unresolved.

Well, I do not know about you all but I am feeling a sense of unease over the judgment which ICJ has provided. And I would be keeping a close eye on how Singapore and Malaysia both react to this judgment and what sort of (short-term) impact it will have on Singapore-Malaysia bilateral relations.


chillycraps said...

somehow i got a feeling there's a political agenda behind. They don't want to offend either of singapore or malaysia, thus granting each a piece.

but i think it makes room for more dispute...

Anonymous said...

What Tommy Koh dreaded has come to roost - the ICJ played politics!

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