EIU: Very unlikely Pedra Branca will go to Malaysia

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The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) said the dispute over the Pedra Branca islet, which is relatively distant (around 40 km) from Singapore and closer to the Malaysian coast, will not go Malaysia’s way.

It said: It seems unlikely that the ICJ will reverse its determination that Pedra Branca, the location of a colonial-era lighthouse set up by the then-Singaporean authorities, is within Singapore.

However, Malaysia may be able to demonstrate that most of the adjacent sea area is within Malaysian waters.

This despite some grey areas upon which Malaysia is struggling to prove it has rights over the rocky parcel.

The dispute over the Pedra Branca islet it said has rumbled on in a low-key fashion since at least 1979.

Analysing the International Court of Justice – ICJ – 2008 ruling that handed over Pedra Branca to Singapore and assigned the adjacent Middle Rocks to Malaysia, it said the judgement was unclear regarding sovereignty over the South Ledge (a nearby rock feature which is often submerged).

It did not assign it to the state in whose territorial waters it stood, without determining which of the states that was.

This, in turn, makes it unclear to whom waters surrounding Pedra Branca belong, said EIU.

Malaysia has now asked the ICJ to clarify a ruling on the Pedra Branca island and surrounding waters, which are the basis of a sovereignty dispute with Singapore.

Given that the two countries have established joint fishing rights, there is little concrete reason for the bilateral tussle over sovereignty.

The authorities in Singapore are perplexed by the latest application made to the ICJ.

Malaysian officials insist that the move is separate and autonomous to the application it made in February, which asked the court to review its sovereignty claim over Pedra Branca.

“We continue to believe that relations between Malaysia and Singapore will remain cordial despite the tussle over Pedra Branca and its associated waters.”