KUALA LUMPUR (July 13): The Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) today defended Malaysia's decision to discontinue with the proceedings at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) at The Hague on the territorial dispute of sovereignty over Pulau Batu Puteh.
In a statement today, AGC said former Attorney-General Tan Sri Mohamed Apandi Ali's claim in an article titled "Malaysia ada bukti kukuh" (Malaysia has solid proof) in Mingguan Malaysia on June 1 is not true.
According to Mohamed Apandi, the letter stated that Malaysia was not interested in Pulau Batu Puteh, also known as Pedra Branca. He also claimed that Malaysia did not raise the issue of the authority of the Acting State Secretary of Johor and that Malaysia lost the case because of this reason.
"The record shows that Tan Sri Mohamed Apandi's statement is not true. The Malaysian delegation has submitted at length on that issue before the ICJ," said AGC.
"Furthermore, although the ICJ did not rule in favour on this issue, the ICJ in its judgment nevertheless concluded, amongst others, that it did not consider the 1953 letter as having a constitutive character in the sense that it had a conclusive legal effect on Johor i.e. Pulau Batu Puteh, but rather it is a response to an enquiry seeking information.
"Hence it is absolutely not true to claim that Malaysia was unsuccessful because Malaysia did not raise the issue of the authority of the then Acting State Secretary of Johor," said the AGC.
As for Mohamed Apandi's statement that the ICJ had not made any decision with respect of South Ledge, the AGC said the ICJ had determined that the sovereignty over the territory as a low tide elevation belongs to the state in the territorial waters of which it is located.
"Pursuant to its decision, Malaysia and Singapore established a Joint Technical Committee tasked to implement the 2008 judgment," said AGC.
After the formation of the Pakatan Harapan government following the coalition's victory at the 14th general election, the AGC said Malaysia's application for revision and request for interpretation of Pulau Batu Puteh case was brought to the attention of the Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamed.
"During the briefing Dr Brendan Plant, representing the international consultants, maintained and reiterated the international consultants' collective written opinions dated January 2017.
"The two local lawyers, Datuk Abu Bakar As-Sidek Mohamed Sidek and Datuk Firoz Hussein Ahmad Jamaluddin (who have been working directly and closely with Mohamed Apandi) did not contradict the opinion by Dr Plant," said AGC
"Having considered the views and other national interest matters, including costs, YAB PM (Dr Mahathir) decided that it would be best to discontinue the proceedings," said AGC.
"The decision was subsequently reported to the new Cabinet at its first meeting on May 23, 2018, which endorsed it," it added.
At the same time, AGC said the decision to continue with the proceedings, including its grounds, was conveyed to the Johor ruler, Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar.
In addition, AGC said Malaysia has no objection for the written pleadings for both the application for revision and request for interpretation to be made accessible to the public via the website of the ICJ.