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May 24, 2008

3 reasons why island went to Singapore

thestar - Failure to show ownership over Pulau Batu Puteh, maps that indicated Singapore's sovereignty over the island, and a reply from a Johor state official saying that the state did not have sovereignty over the island were some of the reasons why Malaysia lost its case.

International Court of Justice case acting president Judge Awn Shawkat Al-Khasawneh, when delivering the court's decision in The Hague yesterday, said Johor initially had sovereignty over the island.

However, Johor and subsequently Malaysia lost its ownership to Singapore because of those reasons.

“The Court recalls their (United Kingdom and Singapore) investigation of marine accidents, their control over visits, Singapore’s installation of naval communication equipment and its reclamation plans, all of which include acts à titre de souverain (acts consistent with sovereignty), the bulk of them after 1953,” said Awn Shawkat.

He said Malaysia did not respond to Singapore’s conduct on the island, including the flying of its ensign, except for the republic’s installation of naval communication equipment.

“Further, the Johor authorities and their successors took no action at all on Pedra Branca/Pulau Batu Puteh from June 1850 for the whole of the following century or more,” he said.

He also pointed out that Malaysia needed Singapore’s permission before any official visits to the island especially in the 1970s could be made.

As for the Malaysian maps between 1962 and 1975 – which depicted that Pulau Batu Puteh belonged to Singapore, Awn Shawkat said Malaysia's assertion that the map had a disclaimer and did not create ownership of territory could not be accepted.

“The map still stands as a statement of geographical fact, especially when the State adversely affected has itself produced and disseminated it, even against its own interest,” he said.

He said the maps' assertions were consistent to the position of the acting state secretary of Johor in 1953 who said Johor did not claim ownership of Pulau Batu Puteh.

“That statement has major significance. The Court concludes, especially by reference to the conduct of Singapore and its predecessors as à titre de souverain, taken together with the conduct of Malaysia and its predecessors including their failure to respond to the conduct of Singapore and its predecessors, that by 1980 sovereignty over Pedra Branca/Pulau Batu Puteh had passed to Singapore,” he said.

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