Saturday, November 24, 2007

Singapore's Claim On Pulau Batu Puteh Flawed

THE HAGUE, Nov 23 - Singapore's claim that Pulau Batu Puteh terra nullus (No Man's Land) when Britain took possession of it in 1847 is fundamentally flawed, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) here heard Thursday.

Malaysia's counsel, Sir Elihu Lauterpacht, said there was no basis on which Britain could, then or at any other time, acquire title to an island that could only be obtained with the consent of the local sovereign.

"And the consent given was restricted to the building and operation of a lighthouse (on the island)," he told the court hearing a dispute between Malaysia and Singapore over Pulau Batu Puteh, Middle Rocks and South Ledge.

He said that Malaysia was criticised for its "silence on the nature of acts a titre d souverain" (the exercise of sovereign powers) on the island but this was because during the period 1847-1851, Britain's conduct could not be classified as having exercised sovereign powers.

"It was conduct in every respect related to the construction of a lighthouse and nothing more," Lauterpacht said in the second and final round of Malaysia's oral arguments.

He said that the placing of experimental bricks, the cutting of rain channels and others on the island, as submitted by Singapore, could hardly be described as acts of the exercise of sovereign powers unless one assumed, as Singapore's counsel Ian Brownlie did, that there was scope for the performance of such acts.

"But once the basic foundation of his presentation is undermined, that is necessarily an end to the classification," counsel said.

He also said that calling the works (on the island) "public works" did not advance Singapore's case because beyond the fact that the works were done in public, which was certainly not what Brownlie had in mind in using the adjective, there was nothing that could not have been done by a private person.

Lauterpacht submitted that what mattered to Britain was not the sovereignty of Pulau Batu Puteh but the construction and operation of a lighthouse for the benefit of ships plying their trade between Britain and its Far Eastern commercial links.

"From an imperial, military or naval perspective, it simply did not matter whether the island was British or not. There was no room on it anyway for any British settlement unrelated to the operation of the light (house)," he said.

He also touched on Singapore's submission concerning his "arithmetic" methods.

During the first round of Malaysia's oral pleadings, Lauterpacht had said that like what was taught in school, the simple arithmetic that when zero is multiplied by any number whatsoever, the result is always zero and as such, a title that did not exist could not be confirmed or maintained by any amount of subsequent state action.

He said Singapore had contended that the "multiplication" should be discarded in favour of a process of addition like zero plus one makes one and so on.

"So what are we to add together between 1847 and 1851 to produce a title by 1851?

A decision to support the construction of a lighthouse, a decision regarding the site, advancing part of the funds on the basis that the excess over subscriptions will be repaid out of light dues, the provision of an architect, some visits to the island by the governor -- but never, never a statement of intention or even a gesture towards a declaration of title," he said.

Another of Malaysia's counsel, Marcelo Kohen, submitted that the permission of Johor to build the lighthouse made the "fragile and convoluted Singaporean case irreparably collapse" before the purported taking of possession of a terra nullius as well as after it.

Kohen said that despite all the efforts by Singapore to make it complicated, ultimately the question was simple.

There was a desire to build a lighthouse on the island to pay homage to James Horsburgh, the Johor authorities gave the permission to build the lighthouse and the East India Company built the lighthouse.

"The proof is not missing, It is rather over-abundant," he said.

Nicolaas Jan Schrijver submitted that Singapore advanced its terra nullius proposition at a very late stage, namely in its reply, as earlier it only argued its case on the basis of "the lawful taking of possession" of the island in the mid-19th century.

He said that during the oral pleadings this week, Singapore "betrayed" some uncertainty as to the validity of its terra nullius theory.

"This lack of conviction has apparently led Singapore to back two horses in the same race," he said.

He stressed that the terra nullius claim was untenable and that at all relevant times, Pulau Batu Puteh was not terra nullius as it was featured by name on the earliest maps, as a seamark as well as a point of danger.

He said that the native population used the island, as referred to in Portuguese books as early as 1552 and in 1822. Nearly 300 years later, John Crawfurd reported that the "men of the sea" living in that area were subjects of the Sultanate of Johor.

Crawfurd was the second British Resident of Singapore, holding office from 1823 to 1826.

On the argument that the ruler of Johor was "disinterested" in the small islands, counsel said that this was not correct, for example, in the Sejarah Melayu, the ruler of Melaka had stated that "he does not care if a territory is only the size of a coconut shell."

Counsel stressed that from time immemorial the Sultanate of Johor has had an original title to the three features and that the 1844 permission of the Sultan and Temenggong of Johor to the British to construct a lighthouse on the island did not involve the transfer of sovereignty over the island.

James Crawford, submitting on the period 1966 to the critical date and subsequently, said that Singapore never publicly claimed Pulau Batu Puteh in the period 1965-1978.

The events of 1978-1980 leading up to the crystallization of the dispute could not have changed that position, he added - Bernama

Tuntutan Singapura Ke Atas Pulau Batu Puteh Ada Kecacatan

Daripada Nor Faridah A. Rashid

THE HAGUE, 23 Nov - Tuntutan Singapura bahawa Pulau Batu Puteh ialah terra nullus (tanah yang tidak dimiliki sesiapa) semasa Britain mengambil alihnya pada 1847 ada kecacatan pada asasnya, Mahkamah Keadilan Antarabangsa (ICJ) diberitahu pada Khamis.

Peguam yang mewakili Malaysia, Sir Elihu Lauterpacht, berkata langsung tiada asas yang boleh digunakan oleh Britain, pada ketika itu atau pada bila-bila masa, memperoleh geran ke atas pulau itu yang hanya boleh diperoleh dengan kebenaran kedaulatan tempatan.

"Dan kebenaran yang diberikan hanya dihadkan kepada bangunan dan operasi rumah api (di pulau itu)," katanya pada pendengaran kes pertikaian terhadap kedaulatan Pulau Batu Puteh, Terumbu Karang Tengah (Middle Rocks) dan Terumbu Karang Selatan (South Ledge) antara Malaysia dan Singapura.

(Dari kiri) Panel Penasihat Antarabangsa Malaysia Prof. Marcelo G. Kohen, Menteri Luar Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar, Duta Malaysia Ke Belanda Datuk Noor Farida Ariffin dan Ketua Delegasi Malaysia yang juga Penasihat Khas Hal Ehwal Luar Kepada Perdana Menteri Tan Sri Abdul Kadir Mohamad berdiri sebagai tanda hormat semasa ketibaan hakim-hakim di Mahkamah Keadilan Antarabangsa (ICJ) di The Hague. Foto: Abdullah Ibrahim

Katanya Malaysia telah dikritik bagi langkahnya yang "membisu bagi tindakan titre d souverain" (pelaksanaan kuasa kedaulatan) ke atas pulau itu tetapi itu berlaku pada era 1847-1851, tindakan Britain itu tidak boleh diklasifikasikan sebagai mempunyai kuasa kedaulatan.

"Ia dilaksanakan daripada segi semua aspek yang bersangkut paut dengan pembinaan sebuah rumah api dan tidak lebih daripada itu," kata Lauterpacht dalam hujahan lisan pusingan kedua dan terakhir Malaysia.

Katanya peletakan batu bata, pembinaan saluran hujan, seperti yang dihujahkan oleh Singapura, tidak boleh dikatakan sebagai pelaksanaan kuasa kedaulatan kecuali sebagai andaian sahaja seperti yang dilakukan oleh peguam yang mewakili Singapura, Ian Brownlie bahawa wujud skop bagi tindakan seumpama itu.

"Tetapi sebaik sahaja asas bagi presentasinya dipersoalkan, dengan itu menamatkan klasifikasi berkenaan," hujah peguam itu.

Beliau juga berkata kegiatan pembinaan (di pulau itu) "kerja-kerja awam" tidak memberi kelebihan kepada kes Singapura atas hakikat kerja itu dilakukan secara terbuka, tidak seperti apa yang difikirkan oleh Brownlie, kerana tiada apa yang tidak boleh dilakukan oleh orang persendirian.

Lauterpacht berhujah apa yang penting kepada Britain bukan kedaulatan Pulau Batu Puteh tetapi pembinaan dan operasi rumah api berkenaan bagi manfaat kapal perdagangan Britain dan Timur Jauh yang menggunakan laluan itu.

"Daripada perspektif empayar, ketenteraan atau tentera laut, ia tidak penting sama ada pulau itu ditadbir British atau tidak. Lagipun tiada ruang bagi sebarang penempatan lain British selain rumah api itu," katanya.

Beliau turut menyentuh hujahan Singapura berhubung kaedah "aritmetik" beliau.

Dalam pusingan pertama hujahan lisan Malaysia, Lauterpacht berkata seperti apa yang diajar di sekolah, aritmetik mudah ialah sifar didarab dengan mana-mana nombor, jawapannya tetap sifar dan dengan itu, geran yang tidak wujud tidak boleh disahkan atau dipertahankan oleh sebanyak manapun kegiatan yang dilakukan sesebuah negara itu.

Katanya Singapura telah berhujah bahawa kaedah "darab" tidak sepatutnya digunakan sepertimana proses campur seperti sifar campur satu maka jumlahnya jadi satu dan seterusnya.

"Jadi apa yang kita nak campur antara 1847 dan 1851 untuk mengeluarkan geran pada 1851?

Keputusan untuk menyokong pembinaan rumah api itu, keputusan berhubung tapak, pendahuluan sebahagian daripada dana atas asas bahawa lebihan langganan akan dibayar balik daripada apa yang perlu dibayar rumah api itu, penyediaan arkitek, beberapa lawatan ke pulau itu oleh gabenor -- tetapi tidak sesekali mengenai surat hasrat atau malahan isyarat ke arah pengisytiharan geran itu," katanya.

Seorang lagi peguam Malaysia, Marcelo Kohen, berhujah kebenaran yang diberikan oleh Johor untuk membina rumah api itu telah menjadikan "kes Singapura lemah dan berbelit-belit" malah sebelum mengambil alih terra nullius dan selepasnya.

Kohen berkata disebalik semua usaha Singapura untuk menjadikannya rumit, sebenarnya persoalannya amat mudah.

Berikutan hasrat untuk membina sebuah rumah api di pulau itu sebagai tanda penghormatan kepada James Horsburgh, pihak berkuasa Johor telah memberikan kebenaran untuk membina rumah api itu dan Syarikat Hindia Timur telah membina rumah api itu.

"Bukti itu tidak hilang, ia terlalu banyak," katanya.

Nicolaas Jan Schrijver berhujah bahawa tuntutan Singapura ke atas terra nullius juga agak lewat, iaitu paling awal mengikut hujahnya bagi asas "pengambilalihan mengikut undang-undang" ke atas pulau itu ialah pada pertengahan abad ke-19.

Katanya sepanjang hujahan lisan minggu ini, Singapura "telah mengkhianati" beberapa ketidaktentuan seperti kesahihan teorinya mengenai terra nullius.

"Kekurangan sabitan ini jelas telah mendorong Singapura terpaksa menggunakan dua ekor kuda dalam satu perlumbaan," katanya.

Beliau menegaskan tuntutan terra nullius tidak dapat dipertahankan dan pada setiap masa yang relevan, Pulau Batu Puteh bukannya terra nullius sepertimana tercatat dalam peta dahulu, sebagai penanda laut serta titik bahaya.

Katanya penduduk pribumi telah menggunakan pulau itu, seperti tercatat dalam buku Portugis seawal 1552 dan pada 1822. Hampir 300 tahun kemudian, John Crawfurd melaporkan "pelaut" yang hidup di kawasan itu adalah rakyat Kesultanan Johor.

Crawfurd ialah Residen British yang kedua di Singapura, berkhidmat dari 1823 hingga 1826.

Mengenai hujahan bahawa pemerintah Johor "tidak berminat" dengan pulau-pulau kecil, peguam itu berkata perkara itu tidak betul, contohnya, dalam Sejarah Melayu, pemerintah Melaka menyatakan bahawa "baginda tidak kisah jika kawasan itu sebesar biji kelapa."

Peguam itu menegaskan sejak zaman berzaman Kesultanan Johor telah mempunyai geran asal ketiga-tiga pulau itu dan kebenaran yang diberikan oleh Sultan dan Temenggong Johor pada 1844 kepada British untuk membina rumah api di pulau itu tidak membabitkan pemindahan kedaulatan ke atas pulau itu.

James Crawford berhujah pada tahun 1966 hingga ke tarikh kritikal itu dan seterusnya, berkata Singapura tidak pernah secara terbuka menuntut Pulau Batu Puteh pada sekitar 1965-1978.

Peristiwa sepanjang 1978-1980 yang membawa kepada pertikaian itu tidak dapat mengubah kedudukan itu, katanya - Bernama

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