SINGAPORE: The International Court of Justice (ICJ) has informed Singapore that Malaysia will discontinue proceedings in two cases relating to sovereignty over Pedra Branca, said Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) in a press statement on Wednesday (May 30).
This comes shortly after Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad told a media conference that his government would “reconsider” the previous administration's challenge to the ICJ judgment, which awarded sovereignty of Pedra Branca to Singapore.
Malaysia had informed the ICJ on Monday that it would discontinue the proceedings, said MFA, adding that Singapore then told the ICJ on Tuesday that it agreed with Malaysia's request.
"Prior to that, the Malaysian Solicitor General had written to inform Singapore’s Attorney-General of Malaysia’s intention to discontinue the proceedings, and Singapore’s Attorney-General had replied conveying Singapore’s agreement," MFA added.
In response to Malaysia's decision to discontinue its challenges, Singapore's Minister for Foreign Affairs Dr Vivian Balakrishnan said "we are happy to agree".
“We were confident of our case, and the correctness of the original ICJ decision," said Dr Balakrishnan.
"When Malaysia requested to discontinue the cases, without them being argued, we were happy to agree. Both Malaysia and Singapore had gone through the due legal process and put this matter to rest.
"I would like to thank our legal team, led by Professor S Jayakumar, for their meticulous and comprehensive preparations. The team had put forward clear and compelling arguments against the submissions advanced by Malaysia.”
A rocky outpost located 44km off Singapore’s east coast, the dispute over the ownership of Pedra Branca, referred to by Malaysia as Batu Puteh, dates back to 1979 when Malaysia published a map indicating that the island was within the country’s territorial waters.
The matter was brought to the ICJ in 2003, and on May 23, 2008, it ruled that Singapore had sovereignty over Pedra Branca, while Middle Rocks was awarded to Malaysia and South Ledge belonged to the state in whose territorial waters it is located.
Malaysia filed two applications after the ruling - one on Feb 2, 2017, to revise the ICJ's 2008 judgment after it found three documents discovered in the National Archives of the United Kingdom. The second application on Jun 30, 2017, sought an interpretation of the same ICJ judgment.
Public hearings for the two cases had been scheduled for next month at the Peace Palace in The Hague, Netherlands.