The decision by the government of former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad to withdraw applications filed in connection with the Batu Puteh sovereignty issue was “not in order” and “improper”, says Attorney-General Idrus Harun.
In a statement, Idrus said this was based on a Jan 11 Cabinet decision.
“The government is of the view that the decision to withdraw both the application to review the decision concerning the sovereignty of Batu Puteh, Middle Rocks and South Ledge and the request for an interpretation of the decision was improper and not in order,” he said.
He also said the Attorney-General’s Chambers is studying recommendations made by the special task force on the matter, including as to whether there has been any misfeasance in public office, FMT reported.
“Nevertheless, the government respects the judgment of the International Court of Justice in the Case Concerning Sovereignty over Batu Puteh, Middle Rocks and South Ledge dated 23 May 2008,” said Idrus.
On Dec 14, Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim said Malaysia will seek “meaningful negotiations” with Singapore on the Batu Puteh issue.
On Oct 9, then prime minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob said the Cabinet had been told that there was possible negligence and oversight on Mahathir’s part over the Batu Puteh claim.
Ismail said the Cabinet had been informed by a special task force set up to study the case that Mahathir might have made a mistake in withdrawing an application to review the International Court of Justice’s (ICJ) award of sovereignty over Batu Puteh to Singapore.
He said the government had decided to proceed with taking legal action at the ICJ in its fight for Batu Puteh.
In 2008, the ICJ decided that Batu Puteh belonged to Singapore, Middle Rocks to Malaysia, and South Ledge to the state in the territorial waters in which it is located.
In June 2017, Malaysia applied to the ICJ requesting an interpretation of the judgment.
In 2018, Mahathir withdrew the application to overturn the ICJ’s ruling which awarded legal jurisdiction of Batu Puteh to Singapore.