Dr M blames Apandi’s aides over withdrawal of Batu Puteh appeal

(FMT) – Malaysia’s decision to withdraw the application to review the ruling awarding legal jurisdiction of Batu Puteh to Singapore was made based on advice from former attorney-general (AG) Apandi Ali’s officers, says Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

This came after caretaker Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob said the Cabinet was informed that there was possible negligence and oversight on Mahathir’s part over the lack of an appeal into the ruling by the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

The former prime minister said Apandi’s appointment to head the special task force to probe the issue of Malaysia not proceeding with the review into the Batu Puteh case was also inappropriate due to his conflict of interest.

“It should be someone else (heading the task force). However, if you want to take this to the international courts, then let the courts decide,” he told reporters at an event at KL Tower.

Apandi was the AG during the Najib Razak administration which filed an application for a review of the ruling by the ICJ in 2017.

Mahathir said Ismail’s claim that he (Mahathir) might have erred in the Batu Puteh issue was merely his “opinion”.

He said the country should accept the decision by the ICJ and also keep Malaysia’s promise to Singapore that we would accept the court’s findings.

“For me, we have already promised Singapore that we will accept whatever decision made by the court. After that when the court decides, we cannot dismiss it. We made a promise early on and must keep it,” he said.

Mahathir said the same applies to the Sipadan and Ligitan island claims by Indonesia.

“They (Indonesia) cannot make a new claim after the court ruled in favour of Malaysia,” he said.

In 2008, the ICJ decided that Batu Puteh belonged to Singapore, Middle Rocks to Malaysia and South Ledge to the state in the territorial waters in which it is located.

In June 2017, Malaysia applied to the ICJ requesting an interpretation of the judgment. In 2018, Mahathir withdrew the application to overturn the ICJ’s ruling awarding legal jurisdiction of Batu Puteh to Singapore.