KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia and Singapore will sign the Special Agreement to refer the Pulau Batu Puteh dispute to the International Court of Justice in The Hague on Feb 6, said Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar.
“Singapore has agreed to the date that has been given by Malaysia and that will be Feb 6 this year,” he said.
Syed Hamid and Singapore Foreign Minister Prof S. Jayakumar will sign the Special Agreement at Wisma Putra in Putrajaya.
With the date decided on, Syed Hamid hoped the island dispute, which arose in 1979 and became more intense in recent months, would not become polemical.
He also hoped this would lead to the status quo on Pulau Batu Puteh being kept intact, with neither Kuala Lumpur nor Singapore claiming sovereignty over the island.
“I hope both parties will exercise their rights without interruption or interference on any side and I think no party at present can claim sole sovereignty over that island,” said Syed Hamid.
Syed Hamid was also asked on the significance of the Feb 6 date and why the signing would not be held on the margins of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) summit next month as expected.
“The reason why we didn’t do (it) on the sidelines is that we are taking cue from what Singapore always said,” he added.
Syed Hamid revealed that when Malaysia wanted to sign the Special Agreement on the margins of its water negotiations with Singapore last year, the island state’s foreign minister said it was too significant a document” to be signed as a side or margin agreement.
On another note, he said while Kuala Lumpur and Singapore awaited the ICJ verdict, both sides should exercise their right on the island, except on the management of the lighthouse, which remained with Singapore until the dispute was resolved.
“As such, Singapore should not prevent Malaysian fishermen from fishing in the area.
“That (area) has been the traditional fishing ground for the fishermen around it. They have been fishing in that area not over a short period of time ... they’ve always been there,” he added. – Bernama