Friday, May 16, 2008

Rais: Verdict over Pulau Batu Puteh will be in our favour

JOHOR BARU: Malaysia has a good chance of winning the sovereignty dispute over Pulau Batu Puteh, Middle Rocks and South Ledge when the International Court of Justice (ICJ) delivers judgment on May 23, Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim said yesterday.

Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim with Datuk Abdul Ghani Othman after a briefing by state government officials on the case involving Pulau Batu Puteh, Middle Rocks and South Ledge in Johor Baru yesterday.

"Having gone through the items, the grounds of submission and the case law that has been relied upon, Malaysia has a very good case. We are confident that the judgment will be in our favour," he said at a press conference after a 90-minute briefing by state government officials at Bukit Timbalan here yesterday.

Also present was Menteri Besar Datuk Abdul Ghani Othman.

Rais said he had recently visited Singapore and both countries had agreed to submit to the ICJ decision.

The arguments submitted by Malaysia to the ICJ were based on historical facts closely related to treaty, population, regulations and terms which stated a clear case of Malaysia owning the territory, he said.

Asked about Singapore Deputy Prime Minister Prof S. Jayakumar's statement on Singapore winning the case, Rais said that the republic might feel they too had submitted strong evidence.

"Singapore may have the same feeling about their efforts in producing evidence in court to support their case. We cannot stop them from expressing their confidence."

Rais said both countries had agreed to form a joint technical committee headed by Foreign Ministry secretary-general Tan Sri Rastam Mohamed Isa and his Singapore counterpart to act on the ICJ decision.

"This committee will study and translate the ICJ decision and make recommendations on the governance of Pulau Batu Puteh, Middle Rocks and South Ledge to both countries," he said.

Rais said it was too early for the ministry to postulate the actions that would be taken should the ICJ deliver a judgment unfavourable to Malaysia.

"I will be making a statement from the Hague, the moment we get the verdict. It is rather premature to postulate now on what we would do next," he added.

Rais also met the Sultan of Johor at Istana Bukit Serene yesterday to brief him on the case.

"Since the territorial dispute is located in Johor waters, it is only right for us to inform the sultan of the proceedings and seek his feedback," he said.

Members of Malaysia's legal team, including the special adviser to Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs, Tan Sri Abdul Kadir Mohamad, will be at The Hague on May 23 for the decision - NST

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