Nov 20, 2007 - ST
S'pore's activities 'clearly show' it has sovereignty
THE HAGUE (Netherlands) - SINGAPORE played its trump card in the Pedra Branca case on Tuesday as it wrapped up its oral pleadings before an international court.
It argued that its claim to the disputed island stands on two legs - lawful acquisition of title between 1847 and 1851 when the British built Horsburgh Lighthouse there, and sovereign acts carried out over 150 years.
Malaysia's claim, however, stands on only one leg: its claim that the Johor Sultanate had original title to the island since time immemorial.
Singapore proposed to the court that if neither side has proven it had title to the disputed island in 1851, then Singapore's claim must prevail over Malaysia's because it alone has carried out state activities on the island.
In inviting the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to look at the case in this light, Singapore's Ambassador-at-large Tommy Koh said it was an approach that was bound to cause Malaysia concern.
'Malaysia has repeatedly argued that this case is about title and not about competing effectivites. That is not correct,' he said.
The legal term effectivites refers to a state's activities that are an exercise of sovereignty over a territory.
Singapore has produced a wealth of evidence of its effectivites on Pedra Branca, and they include control of access to the island and naval patrols in its surrounding waters.
Singapore and Malaysia are appearing before the ICJ to resolve their dispute over the sovereignty of Pedra Branca, an island 40km east of Singapore which stands at the eastern entrance of the Singapore Strait.
As the hearing enters its third and final week, the court has heard Malaysia mount a claim based on the Johor Sultanate's alleged title to Pedra Branca from time immemorial.
But Singapore has pointed out that Malaysia has failed to produce any documents to prove such a title.