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Indonesia Wants its Share of Action in South Ledge Claims

Indonesia Wants its Share of Action in South Ledge Claims

Indonesia is embroiled in maritime claims with Malaysia, which has yet to be resolved. It is about Malaysia’s sovereignty over the South Ledge, which was granted by the International Court of Justice.

The two nations’ marine territorial claims intersect in highly critical waterways for international shipping. Singapore won the dispute with Malaysia in a 2008 judgement of the ICJ over the small rock, Pedra Blanca.

The loss to Singapore can still cause some inconsequential political waves in Malaysia but why is Indonesia claiming what is not theirs?

The Indonesians are scrambling to stake their claims on Karang Singa, also known as Carter Rif or Carter Shoal. It is a tiny shoal of rock situated in Indonesian territorial waters just north of Bintan Island in the Singapore Strait.

It is also a short distance from the disputed low-tide elevation of South Ledge, claimed by Singapore. Malaysia says it is theirs, citing the 2008 ICJ judgement, That was the case concerning the sovereignty over Pedra Branca, Middle Rocks and South Ledge.

Karang Singa is not only adjacent to South Ledge, but also to Pulau Batu Puteh (Pedra Blanca) and Middle Rocks. They have all been the subject of territorial disputes between Malaysia and Singapore.

Malaysia’s Response

Last week, Indonesian Home Minister Tito Karnavian was on a visit to Karang Singa and Tubir Selatan (South Ledge). This stirred the hornet nest in Malaysia with bloggers hitting hard on their keyboards.

This prompted the Malaysian Foreign Ministry to issue a ‘clarification’ on Indonesia’s claims. However, one wonders whether Malaysia should have protested with a stronger message to Indonesia?

Nevertheless, Wisma Putra says the Ministry has verified the matter with the Indonesian side. it was informed that the Indonesian Minister did not make any statement claiming sovereignty over South Ledge, as reported.

On the issue of sovereignty over South Ledge, Wisma Putra says the ICJ judgement says it all.

The judgement reads “… South Ledge falls within the apparently overlapping territorial waters generated by the mainland of Malaysia, Pedra Branca/Pulau Batu Puteh and Middle Rocks…”,

And “….sovereignty over South Ledge, as a low-tide elevation, belongs to the State in the territorial waters of which it is located.”

Following the Judgement, Malaysia and Singapore have established the Malaysia- Singapore Joint Technical Committee on the Implementation of the ICJ Judgment on Pedra Branca, Middle Rocks and South Ledge.

Under the MSJTC, Malaysia remains committed to resolving outstanding maritime boundary issues between the two countries. It will ensure that Malaysia’s sovereignty and interests are protected.

Location of Karang Singa, South Ledge, Middle Rocks and Pedra Branca.

Indonesia’s Claims

But what does Indonesia wants to achieve with this sudden outburst on a rock so tiny that it is perplexing?

Jakarta probably want some action, triggering a triangular border crisis that could involve Singapore. The red dot is also claiming the South Ledge. With Indonesia entering the fray, it puts more pressure on Singapore’s claims.

it also gets Malaysia to buckle up and perhaps the lethargic Putra Jaya might wake up and listen to former PM Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s wishes.

The latter said a month ago, that Malaysia should develop the South Ledge instead of kowtowing to Singapore in re-launching the defunct High-Speed Rail.

Perhaps Indonesia wants to be part of the MSJTC and that could put Indonesia right in the middle of the heavily disputed triangle.

The ICJ did not make a clear decision on the position of South Ledge, a maritime feature that only appears at low tide.

Malaysia says the judgement indicates the South Ledge is theirs. It is located in overlapping waters between the mainland of Peninsular Malaysia, Pedra Branca and Middle Rocks. Middle Rocks is claimed by Malaysia.

Malaysia and Singapore are arguing about who controls South Ledge, and Indonesia is not a party to the talks. But Malaysia might not be entirely against Indonesia joining the discussions. Would it?

Some news media claims Tito said South Ledge and Karang Singa are located within Indonesian territory. Hence they are the property of the country.

“We went to Kepri the number one goal is to see two important reefs, namely Karang Singa and Karang Selatan (South Ledge). Why? Because it is located in the Straits of Malacca and enters our territory.“

This is what Tito was saying according in a media statement published by the portal.

How did Malaysia believe Tito did not make any statement claiming South Ledge? Again, perhaps Malaysia has good reasons to play this down. Allowing Indonesia to join the talks with Singapore will give Malaysia a firmer hand in the talks?

Diplomacy works in mysterious ways, they say.