THE HAGUE: Malaysia on Friday (Jun 30) filed an application requesting interpretation of the judgment delivered by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in 2008 over the sovereignty of Pedra Branca, in a move Singapore has called “puzzling”.
This is “separate and autonomous” from an application in February seeking revision of the ICJ judgment, Malaysia said. On May 23, 2008, the ICJ ruled that Singapore had sovereignty over Pedra Branca, while Middle Rocks was awarded to Malaysia. South Ledge belonged to the state in whose territorial waters it is located, the ICJ found.
On Feb 2, Malaysia applied to revise the judgment, claiming to have found “a new fact” unearthed from three documents discovered in the National Archives of the United Kingdom between Aug 4, 2016 and Jan 30, 2017.
In a press release issued on Friday, the ICJ said Malaysia had invoked Article 60 of the Statute of the Court as its basis for a request for interpretation. The article states that “in the event of a dispute as to the meaning or scope of the judgment, the Court shall construe it upon the request of any party”.
The statement added: “The applicant explains that ‘Malaysia and Singapore have attempted to implement the 2008 judgment through co-operative processes’.
“To that end, they established the Malaysia-Singapore Joint Technical Committee (MSJTC) on the implementation of the Court’s 2008 judgment, which was inter alia tasked with addressing ‘the delimitation of the maritime boundaries between the territorial waters of both countries’.
“According to Malaysia, the MSJTC reached an impasse in November 2013. Malaysia asserts that ‘one reason of this impasse is that the parties have been unable to agree over the meaning of the 2008 judgment as it concerns South Ledge and the waters surrounding Pedra Branca’.
According to its latest application, Malaysia has indicated that “the parties have been unable to agree on the meaning and/or scope” of the following two points of the 2008 judgment:
(1) the Court’s finding that “sovereignty over Pedra Branca belongs to Singapore’; and
(2) the Court’s finding that ‘sovereignty over South Ledge belongs to the State in the territorial waters of which it is located’”.
Malaysia added in its application that “the ongoing uncertainty” as to which state is sovereign over the disputed areas “continues to complicate the task of ensuring orderly and peaceful relations”.
It added that “the need to achieve a viable solution to this dispute is pressing”, considering the “high volume of aerial and maritime traffic in the area”.
As such, Malaysia has requested the ICJ declare that “the waters surrounding Pedra Branca remain within the territorial waters of Malaysia”, and that South Ledge is “located in the territorial waters of Malaysia and consequently sovereignty over South Ledge belong to Malaysia”.
MALAYSIA’S APPLICATION “UNNECESSARY AND WITHOUT MERIT”: SINGAPORE
Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) noted in a press statement on Saturday that the ICJ’s 2008 judgment was “final and without appeal”. It was also “clear and unambiguous”, MFA said.
“Malaysia’s request for the ICJ to interpret the judgment is puzzling. Singapore will therefore oppose Malaysia’s application for interpretation, which we consider to be both unnecessary and without merit”.
MFA said Singapore will file its written observations on Malaysia’s latest interpretation application “in due course”.
“Just as we are confident of our case on the revision application, we are also confident that we are on strong grounds to oppose this latest application by Malaysia for interpretation. Singapore is committed to resolving these issues in accordance with international law,” it added in the statement.
On Mar 2, Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan told Parliament that Singapore was confident of its case against Malaysia’s Feb 2 claim to the ICJ, as it does not satisfy the criteria laid out for a revision of judgment, he said.