Johor sultan supports Malaysia's Pedra Branca challenge: Report

Johor sultan supports Malaysia's Pedra Branca challenge: Report

Sultan of Johor official file pic
The ruler of Johor, Sultan Ibrahim Iskandar. (Photo: Johor State Government)

JOHOR BARU: Johor Sultan Ibrahim Iskandar has voiced his support for Malaysia’s move to apply for a revision of the International Court of Justice’s (ICJ) decision relating to the sovereignty of Pedra Branca, Middle Rocks and South Ledge.

In an interview published by the New Straits Times (NST) on Friday (Nov 24), the ruler urged Johoreans to pray that the upcoming ICJ’s decision would be in favour of Johor, based on new evidence found in the case.

He also said he remained open to having Singapore continue to administer the island, if the court favoured Malaysia in its decision.

“If the ICJ decides in Johor’s favour, Johor could still cooperate with Singapore to administer the Horsburgh lighthouse (on Pedra Branca)," Sultan Ibrahim told NST. "It is not a problem for me.

"It could be similar to Pulau Pisang, which adheres to an agreement that cannot be cancelled.

"Singapore has expressedly said that they hold no ownership of Pulau Pisang, as it is not theirs. It belongs to Johor, and Singapore merely administers it." 

Sultan Ibrahim said that this was made possible due to Singapore and Johor’s strong ties and his good relationship with Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

"But, I have never spoken to the Singapore prime minister about sensitive issues," Sultan Ibrahim told NST. "Such things should be between the two governments." 

The ruler added that pursuing the case would be in the best interest of Johor and Malaysia, and that he was sticking to his cause as it was about the state’s sovereignty.

In June, Malaysia filed an application to the ICJ requesting interpretation of a 2008 judgment which awarded sovereignty of Pedra Branca to Singapore, nearby islet Middle Rocks to Malaysia and the South Ledge outcrop to “the state in whose territorial waters it is located”.

Malaysia’s new application claims South Ledge, along with the waters surrounding Pedra Branca, is located within its territorial waters.

In October, Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign affairs filed a “comprehensive rebuttal” to Malaysia’s request.

Speaking at the PAP Awards and Convention on Nov 19, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong touched on the issue and said that he was unsure of Malaysia’s motive, but that “their General Election is coming, which may have something to do with it”.

The following day, the youth wing of Malaysia’s ruling party UMNO submitted a protest memorandum to the Singapore High Commission in Kuala Lumpur, objecting to Mr Lee’s remarks.

UMNO Youth vice-chief Khairul Azwan Harun told reporters that the leaders of the ASEAN community should "show respect to other member states", with problems dealt with through "correct channels of diplomacy".

Source: CNA/zl