4 possible outcomes when ICJ delivers decision on Pedra Branca on Friday

4 possible outcomes when ICJ delivers decision on Pedra Branca on Friday

 

SINGAPORE: The longstanding dispute between Singapore and Malaysia over Pedra Branca, known in Malaysia as Pulau Batu Puteh, will have closure this Friday.

 

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) will deliver its decision on which country has sovereignty over the island and its rocky outcrops, Middle Rocks and South Ledge.

 

The dispute arose when Malaysia published its new map in 1979 of its territories, which included Pedra Branca. Singapore disagreed with it because it said it owns the island.

 

Pedra Branca has remained a thorn in bilateral ties. In 1993, the prime ministers of Singapore and Malaysia decided to refer the case to the International Court of Justice. After three rounds of written pleadings, both sides presented their cases in open court last November.

 

According to Singapore’s Agent to the Court, Professor Tommy Koh, four possible outcomes are likely on Friday.

 

First outcome: Singapore is awarded sovereignty over Pedra Branca, Middle Rocks and Southern Ledge.

 

Second outcome: Malaysia is awarded sovereignty over Pedra Branca, Middle Rocks and Southern Ledge.

 

Third outcome: A split decision, which means that Singapore gets Pedra Branca, the most important feature, while Malaysia gets Middle Rocks and South Ledge.

 

Fourth outcome: Another split decision, but this time Malaysia gets Pedra Branca, and Singapore gets Middle Rocks and South Ledge.

 

If full sovereignty goes to Singapore, it will be primarily a maintaining of the status quo, according to Professor Koh.

 

If full sovereignty goes to Malaysia, there will definitely be a change, though it was argued that this would be a win-win situation as it would continue to allow Singapore to maintain the lighthouse.

 

Professor Koh said: “We no longer have the right to protect the island through our Navy and Marine Police. So although we may still be the lighthouse operator, the security of the island falls on Malaysia.”

 

No matter what the outcome, both sides have said they will accept and abide by ICJ’s decision and that it will not have an adverse impact on bilateral ties.

 

And as for the Singapore team’s outlook, Professor Koh said: “Being a natural born optimist, I am optimistic, but I am not arrogant or presumptuous because the court could decide in any one of the four ways.

 

“I hope no matter what the outcome is – that both sides will take inspiration from this process and will see this as a possible precedent which could be used to settle bilateral disputes.”

 

A joint committee from both countries will meet after the judgement to work out how to implement the final decision.

 

Channel NewsAsia will show the verdict ‘live’ on Friday, from 4pm. – CNA/vm

 

Source: Channel NewsAsia

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