THE International Court of Justice (ICJ) yesterday awarded Singapore sovereignty over the disputed Pulau Batu Puteh located at the eastern entrance of the Singapore Straits.
The UN's highest court, however, gave Malaysia ownership of Middle Rocks, a smaller uninhabited outcropping. Sovereignty over a third disputed cluster of rocks, South Ledge, is to be determined later by the countries when they sort out their territorial waters.
Malaysia had disputed Singapore's rule of the 0.8-hectare (about the size of a football field) island listed on most maps as Pedra Branca.
The 16-member court's final decision, by a 12-4 majority, rested largely on Singapore's consistent conduct over the last 100 years.
Singapore had argued that it had exercised sovereign powers over the island since the Horsburgh lighthouse opened in 1851, with no protest from Malaysia until 30 years ago.
The ICJ also noted that the strength of Singapore's claim lay in a letter sent by the state secretary of Johor in 1953 to the Singapore government where he informed that 'the Johor government does not claim ownership of Pedra Branca'.
Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim called it a 'win-win' ruling since each side won a partial victory. 'Resolving such disputes through the rule of law,' he said, 'will make the world safer.' He said the two countries would establish a committee to determine ownership of South Ledge, which lies in overlapping territorial waters.
» ICJ's judgment
» Pedra Branca belongs to Singapore
» 1953 Johor letter 'hands' over to Singapore
» Three reasons why island went to Singapore
» Court leaves sovereignty over South Ledge open
» PM Lee's comments on ICJ ruling
» PM Abdullah: Decision based on hard facts, evidence
» A good ruling, for both
» Community accepts decision
» Pulau Batu Puteh: Past, present and future
» Loss a big blow for fishermen
» Malaysians can now go fishing off Middle Rocks
» Expert: Natural resources in territorial waters now Singapore's