Malaysia to launch royal commission of inquiry to look into cases involving disputed

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia will set up a royal commission of inquiry to study the handling of cases involving three disputed islets in the Singapore Strait, the Cabinet said on Wednesday (Jan 24).

Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim had previously called for a review of a 2018 decision by Malaysia – under the administration of then-prime minister Mahathir Mohamad – to drop its application to revise an International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruling that Singapore had sovereignty over Pedra Branca, one of the islets.

The dispute over Pedra Branca dates back to 1979, when Malaysia published a map indicating that the island was within the country’s territorial waters. Pedra Branca is located near the eastern entrance of the Singapore Strait, about 44km east of mainland Singapore.

The matter was brought to the ICJ in 2003, and on May 23, 2008, it 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.

Malaysia in 2017 sought to have the Pedra Branca part of the ruling overturned, but dropped its claim a year later after Mahathir became prime minister.

Chief Secretary to the government Mohd Zuki Ali said on Tuesday recommendations for the composition of the inquiry panel will be brought to Malaysia’s king for approval.

“The recommendations … will take into account experts with wide experience in judicial, legal, and public administration matters who can carry out a transparent, fair and equal investigation,” Mohd Zuki said in a statement.

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