MFA Spokesman's Comments on recent Malaysian media reports on Pedra Branca
MFA SPOKESMAN'S COMMENTS
In response to media queries on recent Malaysian media reports on Pedra Branca, the MFA Spokesman said:
"It was Singapore which first proposed to Malaysia in 1989 that Malaysia's claim to Pedra Branca should be referred to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for resolution. That has always been our position and we stand ready to sign the Special Agreement, to which both sides have agreed, to bring the dispute to the ICJ.
The wild and irresponsible accusations recently reported in the Malaysian media will not help to contribute to a peaceful resolution of the issue. These statements are wrong both in fact and law.
Singapore has been exercising sovereign rights over Pedra Branca for more than 150 years since the 1840s when the British colonial government occupied Pedra Branca and constructed and maintained a lighthouse on the island for the safety of international navigation. Singapore continued to maintain the lighthouse and the other facilities on the island such as the radar facility and the helipad, built in 1989 and 1991 respectively, to aid in the safety of navigation in and out of the Straits of Singapore. There has been no recent construction work on Pedra Branca, although routine maintenance of these facilities has been carried out.
The Malaysian accusations also reflect either a lack of understanding or misrepresentation of international law. The dispute over Pedra Branca arose in 1979 when Malaysia for the first time contested Singapore's ownership and sovereignty. It is a well-established principle in international law that acts done by the disputing parties in an attempt to advance their own case after the dispute has already arisen will not be given credence.
Malaysia claims that in the Sipadan and Ligitan dispute with Indonesia, Malaysia stopped all the projects on the disputed islands until the dispute was resolved. This is untrue. Indonesia in fact complained to the ICJ about the continued activities by Malaysia on Sipadan. Malaysia rejected these objections and their Counsel's argument in the ICJ was that what they did was not wrong because these were merely the continuation of actions they had undertaken before the dispute arose.
Singapore's activities on Pedra Branca are no different in law from Malaysia's actions on Sipadan.
Singapore's position on Malaysia's claim to Pedra Branca remains clear and consistent. Singapore has dealt with Malaysia's claim to Pedra Branca in an amicable way, in the spirit of goodwill. We are ready to work with Malaysia in moving forward to the next stage in the ICJ process. In the interim, unfounded and irresponsible accusations against Singapore are counter-productive in resolving Malaysia's claim."
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MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS
26 DECEMBER 2002