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Tuesday, July 12, 2016

'Implications on Sabah claim'

KOTA KINABALU - The ruling made by an international tribunal in Holland on Tuesday will have consequential implications on the Philippines claim to Sabah.

Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) President Datuk Seri Yong Teck Lee said the ruling on an arbitration case brought by the Philippines against China concerning the South China Sea, however, will not bind Malaysia because the country is not a party to the case.

Nevertheless, the decision of the Permanent Court of Arbitration might shed some light on Malaysia's maritime territorial limits namely, to what extent is the maritime territorial limits of the Philippines bordering Sabah, how will the court rule on the Philippines claim to the sea at Sabah's northwest which belongs to Malaysia and, more importantly, the subject of the Philippines' claim to Sabah.

"It is a relief that the ruling binds only the Philippines because only the Philippines, and nobody else, is a party to the proceedings. China, in spite of being widely predicted to 'lose the case' will similarly not be bound by the ruling because it did not agree to submit China's claims to South China Sea to the tribunal," he said, in a statement, Monday.

Yong explained that the rules of the tribunal are that all the parties in the dispute must agree to submit their dispute to the tribunal for a decision, is not unlike that of the United Nations-established International Court of Justice (ICJ).

For instance, in 1998, Indonesia and Malaysia had to mutually agree to submit the Sipadan/Ligitan Islands dispute to the ICJ before the case could proceed.

The final judgement in favour of Malaysia was made in 2002. Similarly, the Batu Puteh island case with Singapore which Malaysia lost in 2008.

"Unlike the ICJ, this PCA is not a court, much less a 'UN Court' as misreported by The Manila Times.

Contrary to some misperception, the PCA is not the ICJ. It is only an administrative arrangement for governments, government agencies and private entities to settle a dispute arising out of an international contract of treaty," he said.

Nevertheless, said Yong, since the case was brought unilaterally by the Philippines, the Philippines would find it difficult to depart from any detrimental implications arising out of this case, including setting its territorial limits with Malaysia, specifically Sabah. - DE

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