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Thursday, January 31, 2019

Singapore launches book on Pedra Branca amid lingering dispute with Malaysia

‘Pedra Branca: Story of the Unheard Cases’ documents Singapore’s case against Malaysia over the sovereignty of Pedra Branca. (Facebook pic)
PETALING JAYA: Three prominent Singaporeans have published a new book detailing the city-state’s legal fight with Malaysia over Pedra Branca, as a maritime dispute continues to stand in the way of relations between the two neighbours.
“Pedra Branca: Story of the Unheard Cases”, which documents Singapore’s case against Malaysia over the sovereignty of Pedra Branca – a grouping of small islands along the east coast of Singapore – was launched by Singapore Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan.
“Whenever our national interests are challenged, it is crucial that Singapore is able to mount a response that is robust and vigorous.
“And to do so, we need – we will always need – resourceful, experienced and committed officers, and the ability to function as a whole of government across all agencies,” Channel NewsAsia (CNA) quoted Vivian as saying at the launch.
The book is written by Singapore’s ambassador-at-large Tommy Koh, Deputy Prime Minister S Jayakumar and Deputy Attorney-General Lionel Yee.
The International Court of Justice (ICJ) in 2008 ruled that Pedra Branca belonged to Singapore, but Malaysia registered an application in 2017 requesting that the ICJ reinterpret and revise its order.
Putrajaya dropped the application just two weeks before the oral hearing.
The authors of the book said they were busy preparing for the case when Malaysia decided not to pursue it.
“I felt like a boxer that had trained for 17 months for an important contest, and at the last minute was given a walkover,” Koh, who was part of Singapore’s legal team, said in the CNA report.
“So the three of us decided to do the next best thing – write a book about it.”
Meanwhile, Jayakumar, who was the law and foreign affairs minister, praised Singapore’s “sense of unity” in dealing with diplomatic issues such as Pedra Branca and the recent airspace and maritime disputes with Malaysia.
“It’s good that there was a sense of support for the government and for the team in dealing with Pedra Branca, or the more recent problems we’ve had. That sense of unity among the people really helps,” he said. - FMT

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