Transcript of Media Interview with Mr K Shanmugam, Minister for Home Affairs and Minister for Law, on Pedra Branca on 5 February 2017
6 Feb 2017 Posted in Press releases
Reporter: Minister, what is your take on the sighted documents?
We have received the documents. We will study it carefully and then respond. I’ve just had a quick look, haven’t had the benefit of legal advice. You know, a judgement is final. In order to reopen, there are a number of conditions that need to be fulfilled. And amongst those are that there are new facts and that these facts would have made a decisive difference.
Having looked at it, and again I say without the benefit of legal advice, I can’t see what the new facts are and how they would have made any difference then or now. But let the legal team come back.
Reporter: Minister, this issue is going to cause us to look back at our differences, open, so to speak, old wounds. Do you think it is going to affect the ties between Singapore and Malaysia?
You look at the past, look at the present and look at the future. Between countries there will always be differences. Often the interests coincide, sometimes the interests differ. And there are a number of ways in which the differences can be resolved. Often they are left unresolved and fester. In our view, as a small country, the best way of resolving these differences is to have the dispute arbitrated, decided by a neutral independent tribunal. Because if you look at the other ways of resolving disputes they are not very attractive. And so we must take it as a fact that there will be differences and we just find the best way of resolving them.
Reporter: Minister, how do you think such a precedence will shape the way Singapore deals with future problems with our neighbours?
We have always taken the position that differences ought to be resolved according to international law and if we cannot agree on what international law provides then let the international tribunal decide, that’s always been our approach and we have tried to deal with issues in that way. Again, that is shaped by our perspective on our world view as a very very small country.
Reporter: Minister, there’s no doubt about the expertise of our Pedra Branca experts, but if I might say this respectfully, that it has been a decade. How do we sustain the stamina of the legal team and are you taking this opportunity to test potential leaders in this environment?
I have no doubt at all that they are the best team. Their knowledge in international law is unquestioned and also their knowledge on the facts of this case cannot be matched. Because they actually dealt with it for years, for 5 yrs, and then took it to the tribunal and we’re very happy that they’ve agreed to come back and deal with this issue which arises from the main dispute. So the knowledge, the understanding, the detailed assessment which they have is invaluable and we are very lucky that we’ve been able to put back the team. They will be assisted by lawyers from AGC who would be of a different generation but they will be the leaders and I have no doubt of either their stamina or their ability.
Last updated on 08 Feb 2017