Thursday, May 22, 2008

Be Calm And Mature In Accepting ICJ Decision, Says Rais

THE HAGUE, May 22 - Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Rais Yatim says Malaysians should be calm and mature in accepting whatever decision on the sovereignty of Pulau Batu Puteh, Middle Rocks and South Ledge is delivered by the International Court of Justice here Friday.

"(There is) the need for our Malaysian society to be calm and mature about it so as not to translate this into a political upheaval either way. This is very important," he told Malaysian journalists here.

Rais, who arrived today to attend the delivering of the ICJ decision on the dispute between Malaysia and Singapore, said that he had given briefings to Johor state leaders and the Sultan of Johor on the atmosphere of the case.

He reiterated that Malaysia was optimistic about the case, which was brought before the ICJ after both countries signed a special agreement on Feb 6, 2003.

"But as I stated earlier, how we respond is very important, if we win, it would not be very good to be overly euphoric," he said.

"But it is otherwise, our response must not hurt the feelings of others," said Rais.

"In a such a situation, although we are optimistic of winning, our ability to adapt after tomorrow is what counts," he added.

He also said that Malaysia had got sufficient submissions on grounds of evidence, historical aspects and on grounds of social and regal interest that the case ought to be in Malaysia's favour.

"People may just be curious, what do we do with an island which is half the size of a football field, (why) we are so worried about it, more over nothing grows there only rocks.

But the answer is this it is part of Malaysia, that is what we are saying and being part of Malaysia we would like to have the certainty of it back in our fold," Rais said.

Pulau Batu Puteh is located 7.7 nautical miles off the coast of Johor's Tanjung Penyusuh.

The decision on the dispute will be delivered by the Vice-President of the ICJ, Judge Awn Shawkat Al-Khasawneh, who was the Acting President in the case, at about 10am (4pm Malaysian time).

He is expected to complete reading the judgment in two hours. A panel of 16 judges including Al Khasawneh had heard the case.

During the proceedings from Nov 6 to 23 last year, the Malaysia team was headed by Tan Sri Abdul Kadir Mohamad, who was Malaysia's agent for the case while Datuk Noor Farida Ariffin was the co-agent.

Others were Attorney-General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail and Malaysia's team of international lawyers.

They were Sir Elihu Lauterpacht and James Crawford, both professors in International Law at the Cambridge University; Nicolaas Jan Schrijver, professor of Public International Law, Leiden University; Marcelo G. Kohen, professor of International Law, the Graduate Institute of International Studies, Geneva; and Penelope Nevill, college lecturer, Downing College, Cambridge University - BERNAMA

Secret ballot to decide outcome

KUALA LUMPUR: The outcome of the Pulau Batu Puteh dispute tomorrow will be decided through secret ballot by the judges presiding over the issue at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague, the Netherlands.

Malaysia's agent for the case at the ICJ, Tan Sri Abdul Kadir Mohamad, said the judges would also state their reasons for their decision.

In a special briefing to journalists at Parliament House yesterday, he said the presiding president of the proceeding would cast his vote in the event of a tie.

"We cannot predict the basis of their decisions," he said.

This was because there was no indication on whether the judges would base their decision on whether the matter involved three distinct issues -- Pulau Batu Puteh, Middle Rocks and South Ledge -- as Malaysia had requested, or as a whole as requested by Singapore.

He said the decision could see the republic winning outright, merely getting one of the islands or losing their claim altogether.

It could also see the status quo maintained where Pulau Batu Puteh continued to be under Malaysian sovereignty while Singapore would be allowed to operate the lighthouse there.

Abdul Kadir said the Pulau Batu Puteh decision would not be as straightforward as the case of the Sipadan and Ligitan dispute with Indonesia, which was decided in Malaysia's favour by a vote of 16-1.

"It will not be that easy," said Abdul Kadir, who is the adviser for foreign affairs to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim has urged Malaysians to accept and respect whatever decision was made.

"Both Singapore and Malaysia will not make an issue of it," he said at the Parliament lobby after a briefing on the issue to both Dewan Rakyat and Dewan Negara members at Parliament House yesterday.

Abdullah also attended the briefing.

Rais said Malaysia and Singapore had agreed to set up a technical committee to manage issues arising from the Pualu Batu Puteh decision, whatever it was.

He said this was to enable the interests of both countries involving the island, such as the lighthouse and fishing rights in the surrounding waters, to be managed and administered based on international norms.

"For example, if Malaysia wins, the status of the lighthouse on the island needs to be determined as to whether we still allow Singapore to manage it." - NST