KUALA LUMPUR: The Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) today stated as “not true” a statement by former Attorney-General Tan Sri Mohamed Apandi Ali with regard to the application for revision and request for interpretation of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the case concerning the sovereignty over Pulau Batu Puteh (Pedra Branca), Middle Rocks and South Ledge.
The AGC referred to an article entitled 'Malaysia ada bukti kukuh' (Malaysia has strong evidence) published on July 1, 2018, in the Mingguan Malaysia newspaper based on an interview with Mohamed Apandi, and said that in the interview, Mohamed Apandi stated that the ICJ had focused on the letter from the then acting state secretary of Johor, dated 1953, which was forwarded to Singapore.
“According to Tan Sri Mohamed Apandi, the letter stated that Malaysia was not interested in Pedra Branca (Pulau Batu Puteh). He said 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 had submitted at length on that issue before the ICJ. The arguments made during the oral hearing of the original case can be found in the ICJ Document CR 2007/30,” the AGC said in a media statement.
It said that although the ICJ did not rule in favour of Malaysia 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 said, 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.
The AGC said that with regard to the statement that the ICJ had not made any decision in respect of South Ledge (Tubir Selatan), the ICJ in its 2008 judgment determined that sovereignty over South Ledge 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,” it added.
It said that after the formation of the new Pakatan Harapan Government subsequent to the 14th General Election, and with Mohamed Apandi (the Agent for Malaysia in the Application for Revision and Request for Interpretation) on garden leave, the matter was brought to the attention of Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad for instructions.
The AGC said one of the three international consultants and the two local lawyers appointed by Mohamed Apandi were instructed to brief the Prime Minister on the matter in May 2018.
It said that 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 Datuk Mohamad Sidek and Datuk Firoz Hussein Ahmad Jamaluddin (who have been working directly and closely with Tan Sri Mohamed Apandi) did not contradict the opinion by Dr Plant. Also present during the briefing to the Prime Minister were representatives from the AG's Chambers and Wisma Putra,” the AGC said.
It said that having considered the views and other national interest matters, including costs, the Prime Minister decided that it would be best to discontinue the proceedings.
The decision was subsequently reported to the new Cabinet at its first meeting on May 23, 2018, which endorsed it, it added.
“The decision, including its grounds, was also conveyed to the Sultan of Johor, His Majesty Sultan Ibrahim ibni Almarhum Sultan Iskandar,” the AGC said.
It said the oral hearing dates for both the Application for Revision and Request for Interpretation were fixed by the ICJ from June 11 to 22, 2018.
The AGC said that it wishes to highlight that in accordance with the usual practice of the ICJ, 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. — Bernama