The International Court of Justice (ICJ) would deliver its judgement on the Pulau Batu Puteh dispute between Malaysia and Singapore, tomorrow Friday 23 May 2008.
The oral pleadings took place at ICJ's Peace Palace at The Hague in the Netherlands over a period of three weeks from 6 November 2007 to 23 November 2007. I had followed the case by the reading the news reports but nothing beats reading the transcripts of the proceedings that ICJ has made available to the public via its website, here.
Sure, it's heavy reading... but to see how the learned counsel from either side present and rebut each other arguements... wow, awesome. Definitely good reading for law students and even those who aspire to work in diplomatic circles.
The court gave Singapore the chance to present her case first, but this, the Court says, does not imply that one party is seen as applicant while the other as respondent.
When I first started reading the Singapore arguments, my initial thoughts were... whoa, how are we going to counter this. It took another hour before I reached Malaysia's opening arguments. And as I read through, I note that our team had presented good arguements as well.
For those of you lazy fellas who can't be bothered to read the whole thing, let me try to summarise the contentions of both sides in just one line (like it's that simple, duh!). Singapore says she has sovereignity over Pedra Branca because the island is considered terra nullius (roughly meaning nobody's land) when the British first landed on it in 1847 and then built a lighthouse in 1851. Since then, the Brits and later Singapore had continued to operate the lighthouse without any recognition of claim by Malaysia.
Malaysia, on the other hand, says that when the Brits wanted to built the lighthouse back then, permission was sought from the Johor Sultanate and of course the permission was given. But this permission did not extend to giving away the island, just to build and operate the lighthouse only.
Of course, there are more arguements than what I've written here. Check it out for yourself if you're interested. The point to note here is what would happen next if either Malaysia or Singapore wins. For this, you can just try to read the closing speech by Malaysia's agent, Tan Sri Abdul Kadir Mohamad.
Or you can just wait for the verdict to be announced tomorrow.
So how do I think it will go? The Singaporeans have been saying that they are quitely confident of winning. So, not to be less kiasu... I'll say the same thing lah!
Graphic map from Singapore's Memorial