Malaysia’s King approves royal commission of inquiry to review Pedra Branca sovereignty

Malaysia’s King approves the Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) to review Pedra Branca’s sovereignty. Zamri Misman and Azalina Othman Said presented the proposal. RCI aligns with the Commissions of Enquiry Act 1950.

On Wednesday, Malaysia’s king approved the establishment of a royal commission of inquiry (RCI) to examine the handling of cases concerning the sovereignty of Pedra Branca, Middle Rocks, and South Ledge. Zamri Misman, the director general of the Prime Minister’s Department’s Legal Affairs Division, and Azalina Othman Said, the Minister of the Prime Minister’s Department for Law and Institutional Reform, met with the king and presented the government’s proposal for the RCI, as reported by Bernama news agency.

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The department stated on Wednesday that the establishment of the RCI aligns with the provisions of the Commissions of Enquiry Act 1950. The king has approved Zamri’s appointment as the secretary of the RCI, with his department serving as the secretariat.
Additionally, the king has approved the appointment of seven other members. This includes Md Raus Sharif, former chief justice, as the chairman, and Zainun Ali, former federal court judge, as the deputy chairman.
The remaining five members of the RCI are Dr Baljit Singh Sidhu, Prof. Dr Johan Shamsuddin Sabaruddin, Prof. Dr. Faridah Jalil, Mohammed Ridha Abd Kadir, and Dickson Dollah.
The RCI typically comprises former judges who are tasked with conducting inquiries and compiling their findings into a report. As per the Malaysian Bar, which oversees the legal profession, the RCI is a fact-finding body convened by the king based on the advice of the Cabinet.
Former Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim previously called for a reassessment of Malaysia’s 2018 decision, made under the leadership of then-Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, to withdraw its application to revise an International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruling granting sovereignty over Pedra Branca to Singapore, one of the islets.
In 2008, the ICJ determined that Pedra Branca is under Singapore’s sovereignty, while Middle Rocks belongs to Malaysia. The ruling also specified that South Ledge belongs to the state within whose territorial waters it is situated.
Officials from both governments have been engaged in discussions through a Joint Technical Committee to address the implementation of the judgment, which includes matters related to sovereignty over South Ledge.