SINGAPORE: Singapore's legal team will study the documents brought forth by Malaysia as part of the latter's application to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to revise its judgement on Pedra Branca, said Mr K Shanmugam on Saturday (Feb 4).
Speaking on the sidelines of a Chinese New Year event, the Law and Home Affairs Minister said he has seen the documents and that the team will respond accordingly.
Mr Shanmugam said Malaysia would have to satisfy a number of conditions before the court.
"Among them are that there are new facts and that the new facts that have been found would have made ... a decisive difference and the precise legal scope would have to be clarified,” he said.
“Looking at it from that perspective, I'm wondering what are the new facts in those documents and how they would have made any difference to the case or will make any difference," he said.
According to information on the ICJ's website, the new documents discovered in the UK's archives are internal correspondence of the Singapore colonial authorities in 1958, an incident report filed in 1958 by a British naval officer and an annotated map of naval operations from the 1960s.
Malaysia has claimed that these documents establish that “officials at the highest levels in the British colonial and Singaporean administration appreciated that Pedra Branca/Pulau Batu Puteh did not form part of Singapore’s sovereign territory”, according to the ICJ.
SINGAPORE HAS PUT TOGETHER BEST LEGAL TEAM: SHANMUGAM
The legal team from Singapore includes Attorney-General Lucien Wong, Professor S Jayakumar, Professor Tommy Koh and former Chief Justice Chan Sek Keong, the Foreign Affairs Ministry said.
Speaking to Channel NewsAsia before his walkabout in Chong Pang on Sunday, Mr Shanmugam said he had no doubt that Singapore has put together the “best team”.
“Their knowledge in international law is unquestioned and also their knowledge in the facts of this case cannot be matched because they actually dealt with it for years – for five years – and took it to the tribunal," he said. "We are very happy that they've agreed to come back and deal with this issue which arises from the main dispute.
“The knowledge, the understanding, the detailed assessment which they have is invaluable and we are very lucky that we have been able to put back the team.”
The Pedra Branca veterans will be assisted by lawyers from the Attorney-General's Chambers, Mr Shanmugam said.
On whether Malaysia’s application to the ICJ would affect bilateral ties, Mr Shanmugam said there will always be differences between countries and that issues would fester if left unresolved.
“In our view, as a small country, the best way of resolving these differences is to have the dispute arbitrated, decided by a neutral international tribunal. Because if you look at the other ways of resolving disputes, they are not very attractive.
“And so we must take it as a fact that there will be differences and we must find the best way of resolving them,” he said.