ICJ to hold public hearings on Pedra Branca case in June at The Hague

ICJ to hold public hearings on Pedra Branca case in June at The Hague

Pedra Branca
Pedra Branca. (Photo: Calvin Seah)

SINGAPORE: The International Court of Justice (ICJ) will hold public hearings in June for two cases brought by Malaysia against Singapore on the sovereignty of Pedra Branca, the UN's principal judicial body said on Thursday (Apr 5).

The first case is Malaysia's application for revision of the ICJ's 2008 judgment, which gave Singapore sovereignty over Pedra Branca, filed on Feb 2 last year. The ICJ will hold four days of public hearings for this case, starting from Jun 11.

The second case is Malaysia’s request for interpretation of the ICJ’s judgment, filed on Jun 30 last year. The ICJ will also hold four days of public hearings for this case, from Jun 18 to 19 and Jun 21 to 22.

Both of the hearings will be held at the Peace Palace at The Hague, Netherlands.

Pedra Branca - referred to by Malaysia as Batu Puteh - was first claimed as a territory of the Johor Sultanate in 1979. Singapore protested and the matter was brought to the ICJ.

On May 23, 2008, the ICJ ruled that Singapore had sovereignty over Pedra Branca, while Middle Rocks was awarded to Malaysia and South Ledge belonged to the state in whose territorial waters it is located.

In February 2017, Malaysia's Attorney-General Mohamed Apandi Ali filed an application for a revision of the ICJ's judgment.

Malaysia applied to revise the judgment, claiming "a new fact" unearthed from three documents discovered in the National Archives of the United Kingdom between Aug 4, 2016, and Jan 30, 2017.

Pedra Branca illustration

In a separate case, on Jun 30, 2017, Malaysia filed an application to the ICJ requesting interpretation of the 2008 judgment. 

Its new application claims South Ledge, along with the waters surrounding Pedra Branca, as located within its territorial waters.


Prior to the public hearings, Malaysia and Singapore exchanged written submissions consequent to the filing of Malaysia’s application for revision, and the filing of Malaysia’s request for interpretation, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) said in a statement on Friday.

Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan has said that Singapore's legal team “strongly believes” that the three documents relied on by Malaysia in their application to overturn the ICJ ruling do not satisfy the criteria laid out for a revision of a judgment. 

"We are confident of our legal team and our case," he told Parliament on Mar 2 last year.

The Singapore legal team includes Attorney-General Lucien Wong, Professor S Jayakumar, Professor Tommy Koh and former Chief Justice Chan Sek Keong. 

As for Malaysia's application requesting interpretation of the judgment, Singapore has called the move "unnecessary and without merit".

"Malaysia's request for the ICJ to interpret the judgment is puzzling. Singapore will therefore oppose Malaysia's application for interpretation, which we consider to be both unnecessary and without merit," MFA said in July last year.

Source: CNA/nc