AG: Withdrawal of application for revision of ICJ’s decision on Batu Puteh improper, not in order

PETALING JAYA: The withdrawal of the application for revision of the International Court of Justice’s (ICJ) decision concerning the sovereignty of Batu Puteh and the request for interpretation of the case was improper and was not in order, said Attorney General Tan Sri Idrus Harun (pic).

"The Final Report of the Special Task Force on the Sovereignty of Batu Puteh, Batuan Tengah and Tubir Selatan (Special Task Force) was tabled before the Cabinet for its consideration on Jan 11, 2023.

"Based on the Cabinet decision dated Jan 11, 2023, the government is of the view that the decision to withdraw both the Application for Revision of the decision of the Case Concerning the Sovereignty over Pedra Branca/Pulau Batu Puteh, Middle Rocks/Batuan Tengah and South Ledge/Tubir Selatan (Malaysia/Singapura) and the Request for Interpretation of the decision in the said case was not in order and improper," he said in a statement on Friday (Jan 27).

Idrus said nevertheless, the government respects the ICJ’s judgement which was made on May 23, 2008.

He said the Attorney-General’s Chambers was studying the recommendations made by the Special Task Force including the issue relating to tort of misfeasance in public office.

He added that appropriate action would be done to carry out the decision of the Cabinet.

"Issues relating to Batu Puteh are of vital importance as it relates to strategic interests and sovereignty of the nation.

"In this regard, the government will continue to ensure that Malaysia’s interest and sovereignty are protected and preserved at all times," he said.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said last month that the AG has been instructed to review matters pertaining to Batu Puteh claims so that it would not jeopardise bilateral relations between Malaysia and Singapore.

He added that another area in which the AG was asked to look into was the impact of the International Court of Justice’s (ICJ) decision to award legal jurisdiction of Batu Puteh to Singapore.

"The Cabinet has tasked the AG to look into the matter so that negotiations and discussions with Singapore on Batu Puteh will have a meaningful outcome.

"Further, we do not want this to result in issues or problems in the relations of two neighbouring friends," he told reporters after chairing the Cabinet meeting on Dec 14 last year.

On Oct 13, then prime minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said his Cabinet was informed of the possibility of negligence and mistakes made by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad when withdrawing an application to review the ICJ’s decision on the Batu Puteh claims.

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.

Dr Mahathir, who led the Pakatan administration when the application was withdrawn, argued that the decision to withdraw the application for a review of the ICJ’s decision was based on the advice of former attorney general Tan Sri Apandi Ali.

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