KUALA LUMPUR: The decision to withdraw the application for a review of the International Court of Justice’s (ICJ) decision on Batu Puteh was based on the advice of former attorney general (AG) Tan Sri Apandi Ali, says Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
The former prime minister said Apandi's appointment as chairman of the special task force to review the ICJ decision to award legal jurisdiction of Batu Puteh to Singapore also had a conflict of interest.
"That's his (Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri’s) opinion, there was negligence. We appointed Apandi as chairman (of the committee), he has a conflict of interest.
"It should be someone else (who heads the task force). But, if you want to take it to the international court, let the court decide," he said on Saturday (Oct 15) when met at Third Age Media Association’s conference and exhibition the “Pandemic: Empowering the Elderly for their Best Years” at Menara Kuala Lumpur.
On Oct 13, Ismail Sabri said the Cabinet was informed of the possibility of negligence and mistakes made by Dr Mahathir when withdrawing an application to review the ICJ’s decision on Batu Puteh claims.
Dr Mahathir said the country should accept the decision made by the ICJ.
"For me, we have already promised Singapore, we will accept whatever decision the court makes. After that, when the court makes (a decision), we cannot reject it. We have promised," he said when asked about the need for Malaysia to reclaim Batu Puteh.
Dr Mahathir added that, just like the case of Pulau Sipadan and Ligitan, Indonesia could not claim them after the matter was decided in court.
"We agreed from the beginning. We can’t go to court if we agree that the court's decision will be accepted. Now we want to reject it. We have to keep our promises," he said.
In 2008, the ICJ ruled that Pedra Branca (Batu Puteh) belonged to Singapore, while the sovereignty over the nearby Middle Rocks (Batuan Tengah) was awarded to Malaysia.
The Malaysian government filed an application in 2017 for a review of the ICJ decision to award legal jurisdiction of Batu Puteh to Singapore.
In 2018, the Pakatan Harapan government withdrew the application before the case was heard, scheduled for June 11 that year.