Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has urged Malaysians to remain calm over an international court ruling awarding sovereignty of a disputed island to neighbor Singapore, news reports said yesterday.
The International Court of Justice on Friday gave Singapore ownership of a 0.8 hectare island off the southern tip of peninsular Malaysia that houses a strategic lighthouse.
The island, at the eastern entrance to the Singapore Strait, is listed on most maps as Pedra Branca but is known by Malaysia as Pulau Batu Puteh. It lies about 65km from Singapore, but only 10km off the Malaysian coast.
In its ruling, the UN court gave Malaysia ownership of a smaller, uninhabited rock cluster.
The dispute erupted after Malaysia published a map in 1979 referring to the lighthouse island as its territory for the first time in modern history.
The court ruled in favor of Singapore’s argument that it had exercised sovereign powers over the rock since the lighthouse opened in 1851, with no protest from Malaysia until 30 years ago. Singapore operates the lighthouse.