Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Pulau Batu Puteh dispute to be settled on May 23

KUALA LUMPUR: The International Court of Justice (ICJ) will deliver its judgment on the sovereignty dispute case over Pulau Batu Puteh, Middle Rocks and South Ledge between Malaysia and Singapore on May 23.

The decision will be delivered by the vice-president of the court, judge Awn Shawkat Al-Khasawneh, the ICJ said yesterday.

Based in The Hague, the Netherlands, the ICJ, the principal judicial organ of the United Nations, had heard oral arguments from Malaysia and Singapore from Nov 6 to 23 last year before deliberating on the case.

The dispute between the two countries centres around Pulau Batu Puteh which lies 7.7 nautical miles from Peninsular Malaysia and 25.5 nautical miles from Singapore.

During the proceedings, the court heard Singapore's contention that Pulau Batu Puteh was terra nullius (no man's land) when Britain took possession of it from 1847 to 1851.

Singapore claimed that it conducted activities there to show it had exercised sovereignty powers on the island which it calls Pedra Branca (white rock in Portuguese).

Malaysia dismissed the claim that Pulau Batu Puteh was terra nullius, saying that the claim was flawed.

It stressed that Johor had the original title to the island and the two marine features on it since time immemorial and that Britain had obtained permission from Johor to build a lighthouse there.

Malaysia said Singapore was merely the administrator of the lighthouse on Pulau Batu Puteh and activities that have taken place there were those required of a lighthouse administrator.

Malaysia had stressed that Britain's activities in relation to the Horsburgh Lighthouse and the island after 1851 were purely operational and did not reflect any intention to acquire sovereignty over the island - Bernama