Pulau Batu Puteh appeal withdrawal ‘improper’ but cabinet accepts 2008 ICJ ruling

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The Attorney General’s Chambers (AGC) is looking into taking legal action against those who may have harmed Malaysia’s stake in claiming sovereignty over Pulau Batu Puteh in the past.

In a statement today, Attorney General Tan Sri Idrus Harun said his office will be looking into the recommendations of the Special Task Force on the Sovereignty of Batu Puteh, Batuan Tengah and Tubir Selatan (Special Task Force) to take the appropriate action, which includes issues related to the tort of misfeasance in public office.

“Issues relating to Batu Puteh are of vital importance as it relates to strategic interests and sovereignty of the nation.

Yusof Mat Isa

“In this regard, the government will continue to ensure that Malaysia’s interest and sovereignty are protected and preserved at all times,” he said.

Under tort law, misfeasance of public office provides remedies for harm caused by acts or omissions which may amount to an abuse of public power by a public officer.

Idrus also said that the current government led by Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim views the decision by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s Cabinet in 2018 to withdraw the application for the review and request for interpretation of the 2008 decision by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) as “not in order and improper”.

He said this was based on a decision made by the Anwar Cabinet on January 11.

However, the Anwar administration respects the ICJ ruling, Idrus added.

Yesterday, the Special Task Force briefed Johor Ruler Sultan Ibrahim Iskandar on the report of its findings.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim was reported to have said in December 2022 that his Cabinet had agreed that Malaysia’s claim on Pulau Batu Puteh should be reviewed.

The final report on the sovereignty of Pulau Batu Puteh, Middle Rocks and South Ledge by a special task force was tabled to the previous Cabinet led by Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob in October last year.

In 2008, the ICJ ruled that Pulau Batu Puteh belonged to Singapore, while sovereignty over the nearby Middle Rocks was awarded to Malaysia.

In 2017, the government then filed an application for a review of the decision.

A year later, the Pakatan Harapan government led by Dr Mahathir withdrew an application to overturn the ruling awarding legal jurisdiction of Pulau Batu Puteh to Singapore before the hearing of the case, which was scheduled for June 11 that year. – MMO