"If you want to negotiate, lets negotiate. There is no need to encroach, no need to test the market or our waters." - Rais Yatim on Singapore Senior Minister of State Balaji Sadasivan's remarks about the republic wanting to claim territorial waters and Exclusive Economic Zone around Pedra Branca.
Is this will be another win-win situation Datuk Seri?KUALA LUMPUR, July 24 (Bernama) -- An international law professor said Wednesday that it was unlawful of Singapore to want to claim a territorial sea and an exclusive economic zone (EEZ) around Batu Puteh, the rocky outcrop awarded to the republic by the International Court of Justice last May in settling an ownership dispute with Malaysia.
Prof Dr Abdul Ghafur Hamid, international law lecturer at the International Islamic University, said the move was contrary to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) 1982.
UNCLOS stated that rocks which could not sustain human habitation or economic life of their own shall have no exclusive economic zone or continental shelf, he said.
As such, he said, Malaysia must without delay officially protest in the strongest terms to the Singaporean move to unilaterally claim 12 miles of territorial sea and 200 miles of EEZ, he told Bernama.
Abdul Ghafur was asked to comment on a statement in parliament by Singapore's Senior Minister of State Balaji Sadasivan yesterday that the country had a territorial sea limit that extended up to a maximum of 12 nautical miles and an EEZ which was consistent with UNCLOS of Dec 10 1982, to which Singapore was a party.
Abdul Ghafur said: "In areas where there are overlapping claims, unilateral claim is unlawful and cannot be successful. However, official protest is crucial in international law because without any protest it may later on constitute "acquiescence".
"Malaysia needs to demonstrate very strong opposition to this move and, if it persists, even counter measures should not be ruled out," he said in an e-mail interview.
Abdul Ghafur said Article 15 of UCLOS stated that "where the coasts of two states are opposite or adjacent to each other, neither of the two states is entitled, failing agreement between them to the contrary, to extend its territorial sea beyond the median line, every point of which is equidistant from the nearest points on the baselines from which the breadth of the territorial seas of each of the two states is measured.
"The above provision does not apply, however, where it is necessary by reason of historic title or other special circumstances to delimit the territorial seas of the two states in a way which is at variance therewith," he said.
Article 15 meant that the neighbouring countries must delimit their territorial seas by agreement and no state can claim beyond the 'median line' based on an equidistance formula, he added.
Touching on Article 121 (3) of UNCLOS, which stated that rocks which cannot sustain human habitation or economic life of their own shall have no exclusive economic zone or continental shelf, he said: "Although the convention does not define the phrases "human habitation" and "economic life", the better view is that they refer to natural resources of the feature in question and not to artificial additions.
"Batu Puteh is simply a tiny granite rock with no plants and trees and water resources. It is, therefore, very much questionable to claim a 200-mile EEZ from it," he added.
Abdul Ghafur said the best solution was to negotiate a win-win situation since the national interests of both countries were so closely intertwined.
"Even if there was not a decision in the Joint Technical Committee not to take any unilateral action, Singapore cannot initiate such a claim because the national interests of the two countries in that area are so closely intertwined," he said.
Meanwhile, the Maritime Institute of Malaysia (MIMA), in a statement issued here today, said that following the judgement by the ICJ on the rocky outcrop, both governments had agreed to examine the issue of the maritime boundary and activities in the vicinity of Batu Puteh, Middle Rocks and South Ledge, and a joint technical committee between both countries had been established to resolve the related issues.c
"As such, Singapore's EEZ claim is contrary to the spirit of the agreement and could be seen as undermining the work of the Joint Technical Committee and eroding the goodwill established between the parties to the case following the ICJ decision on 23 May 2008.
"A better approach would be for the governments to direct the Joint Technical Committee to address the issue," it said.
The ICJ, in its judgement, found that Singapore has sovereignty over Batu Puteh and that Malaysia has sovereignty over another outcrop, Middle Rocks, and that sovereignty over a third outcrop, South Ledge, belongs to the country in the territorial waters of which it is located.
Can we win over this tussle as we frequently been defeated against them?
So, where we are, sir?