Dr M: Batu Puteh withdrawal decision not done 'in secret'

PETALING JAYA: Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad denied unilaterally deciding to withdraw the bid to overturn the International Court of Justice’s (IJC) ruling on the Batu Puteh case

The former prime minister said that the Cabinet made the decision collectively after much consideration of the views of various experts and briefing sessions.

Dr Mahathir claimed this included consultation of various papers, including one from five senior lawyers from England and those from the Queen's Counsel (QC), who made it clear that Malaysia’s case was weak.

He also claimed that an international consultant called Dr Brendan Plant had also similarly explained to him that the case lacked any "silver bullet" to ensure victory.

He said that a briefing on the issue was also held, attended by Attorney General's Chambers (AGC) staff, Foreign Affairs Ministry staff, and the two local lawyers appointed by former AG Tan Sri Mohamed Apandi Ali as consultants, together with Dr Brendan Plant.

“At no time during the briefing did anybody contradict Plant's view that our case was weak or that we would have severe risks if we went ahead with the application.

“At the end of the briefing, I was asked to make a decision, but I requested time to make the decision, which I then brought up with the Cabinet.

“My Cabinet at the time also did not oppose or reject the idea that we should not go ahead with our bid to overturn the decision.

“That was the final decision. The decision was made by the Cabinet, not by me alone,” he said during a press conference on Wednesday (June 12).

In 2008, the ICJ ruled that Pulau Batu Puteh belonged to Singapore while Batuan Tengah belonged to Malaysia, with the sovereignty of Tubir Selatan remaining unclear.

The then Barisan Nasional government requested an interpretation of the judgement from the ICJ, but in 2018, Dr Mahathir’s Pakatan Harapan government decided to withdraw the country’s bid to overturn the ICJ’s ruling.

In April, Minister in the Prime Department (Law and Institutional Reforms) Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said claimed that Dr Mahathir had decided to withdraw "in secret".

Dr Mahathir has since testified before the Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) on Batu Puteh, Batuan Tengah and Tubir Selatan on Wednesday (June 12).

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