Task force on Pulau Batu Puteh waste of time, says lawyer
PETALING JAYA: A special task force formed to study the Pulau Batu Puteh sovereignty case is a futile exercise as Malaysia will be time barred to file for a review at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), a lawyer said.
A Srimurugan said Article 61(5) of the Statute of the ICJ states that an application for revision may not be made after the lapse of 10 years from the date of the judgment.
“We are in 2021 and are clearly barred legally from doing anything. What is the point of setting up the task force?” Srimurugan asked.
He was commenting on the naming of the task force members to study the issue and present a report to the government by April 29 next year.
Law minister Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar had said on Sunday that four lawyers – Abu Bakar As-Sidek Mohd Sidek, Firoz Hussein Ahmad Jamaluddin, Tengku Fuad Ahmad and Baljit Singh Sidhu – will assist task force chairman Mohamed Apandi Ali.
On Oct 9, Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob said the Cabinet had agreed to set up the task force led by Apandi, a former attorney-general, which would seek the views of international legal experts about a request to review the ICJ decision.
Meanwhile, lawyer Mohamed Haniff Khatri Abdulla said Apandi, Abu Bakar and Firoz Hussein were in conflict of interest as they were previously in a committee to file the review application.
“Apandi filed the review while Firoz Hussein and Abu Bakar conducted research on the matter,” he said.
The application for review was filed in February 2017 when Barisan Nasional was in power but the Pakatan Harapan administration had written to the ICJ to withdraw the application on May 28, 2018.
In May, Mohd Hatta Sanuri filed a suit to seek an explanation from the government on why the review application was withdrawn despite fresh evidence that favoured Malaysia over the island, half the size of a football field.
Hatta named the government and the then prime minister as defendants.
In its defence, Putrajaya said it abandoned the review application after weighing the views of foreign legal consultants and also because of cost implications.
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