Minister for Foreign Affairs, Professor S Jayakumar's Remarks In Parliament on the progress of the Special Agreement on Pedra Branca
REMARKS BY MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS, PROFESSOR
S JAYAKUMAR, IN PARLIAMENT IN RESPONSE TO QUESTIONS ON THE PROGRESS OF THE SPECIAL AGREEMENT ON PEDRA BRANCA, 24 APRIL 2003
Ong Chit Chung, MP: To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs on the progress in referring the issue of Pedra Branca to the International Court of Justice and whether the Singapore and Malaysian governments have ratified the Special Agreement.
Minister Jayakumar: After the signing of the Special Agreement on 6 February 2003, the next step is for the two Governments to ratify the Special Agreement and exchange the Instruments of Ratification. Only after this is done can both Governments jointly refer the dispute to the International Court of Justice. On 17 February, we informed Malaysia that Singapore Government has ratified the Special Agreement and we proposed that both Governments exchange the Instruments of Ratification on 24 February 2003 when both Foreign Ministers would be in Kuala Lumpur for the Non-Aligned Meeting. The Malaysian Government replied on 19 February stating that because of heavy commitments that month arising from their hosting of the NAM Summit in KL, it was unable to do so on that date but would propose a new date for the exchange of Instruments of Ratification in due course.
That is where we stand and we have, on 11 April, reminded them again to propose dates for this formality of exchange of Instruments of Ratification.
Ong Chit Chung, MP: Does the Minister find it surprising that the Malaysians who have criticised us for delaying the signing of the Special Agreement are now dragging their feet on this issue?
Minister Jayakumar: Well in a sense it is surprising. I do not know why this is so. I am just as puzzled as the Member is as to why Malaysia is taking so long to ratify the Special Agreement. Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Albar and I agreed, at the signing of the Special Agreement in Putrajaya on 6 February 2003, that ratification of the Special Agreement would be done "expeditiously" by both sides so that the ICJ process can begin. More than 8 weeks have passed since their hosting of the Non-Aligned Movement Summit. And you are right, Dr Ong is right that Malaysia had criticised Singapore for delaying the signing of the Special Agreement. Now that we have signed the Special Agreement, we should get on with the next steps without unreasonable delay. I hope the Malaysian Government would be able to, as it had promised, propose dates for the exchange of Instruments soon. And as I have said we have reminded them recently on 11 April 2003.
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