Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Pedra Branca: New Joint Panel Formed

Source : The Straits Times, Sep 2, 2008

SINGAPORE and Malaysia have set up a new sub-committee to deal with maritime, airspace and fishing matters around Pedra Branca, Middle Rocks and South Ledge.
Both sides will also finalise over the next few weeks technical preparations for a joint survey of the area.


That will pave the way for eventual discussions on how to delimit the territorial seas there.

Both sides yesterday provided an update on issues relating to the enforcement of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) judgment on sovereignty over the three maritime features.

The update followed the second meeting of the Joint Technical Committee on Aug 20 at Malaysia's seat of government in Putrajaya.

In May, the ICJ awarded Pedra Branca to Singapore and Middle Rocks to Malaysia. It also ruled that South Ledge belonged to whoever owns the territorial waters it sits in.

The three features in the Singapore Strait are located some 40km east of the Republic's main island.

At the latest meeting, both sides agreed that the new sub-committee on maritime and airspace management and fisheries should continue to hold discussions in the following weeks.

They also gave the go-ahead for fishermen to continue with their traditional fishing activities in waters beyond 0.5 nautical miles off the three maritime features.

The joint press statement issued yesterday, by Malaysia's Foreign Minister Rais Yatim and Singapore's Foreign Minister George Yeo, reiterated both countries' commitment to 'honour and abide by the ICJ's judgment and fully implement its decision'.

The Joint Technical Committee, co-chaired by Malaysia's Foreign Ministry secretary-general Rastam Mohd Isa and Singapore's Permanent Secretary for Foreign Affairs Peter Ho, is due to meet again in the middle of this month in Singapore.

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