KOTA KINABALU, July 12, 2013: An international tribunal at Holland is
expected to rule on an arbitration case brought by the Philippines against
China concerning the South China Sea Tuesday 5pm today.
Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) president Datuk Yong Teck Lee cited that
the decision of the Permanent Court of Arbitration might shed some light
on Malaysia`s maritime territorial limits in one or more of three ways:
1. To what extent is the maritime territorial limits of the Philippines
2. Specifically, how will the "court" rule on the Philippines claim to the
sea at Sabah`s north-west which belongs to Malaysia, and
3. The consequential implication on the Philippines Claim to Sabah.
It is a relief that whatever ruling coming out of Holland in not
binding on Malaysia because Malaysia is not a party to the arbitration
case. Indeed, 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 for the simple reason that China did not agree to
submit China`s claim to South China Sea to the tribunal.
This is because the rules of this tribunal are that all the parties in the
dispute must agree to submit to their dispute to the tribunal for a
This rule (that all parties to the dispute must agree to submit their
dispute to the tribunal) is not unlike that of the United
Nation-established International Court of Justice (IJC). For instance,
Indonesia and Malaysia in 1998 had to mutually agree to submit the Sipadan/Ligitan
island dispute to the ICJ before the case could proceed. 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. The PCA is only an administrative arrangement for
government, government agencies and private entities to settle a dispute
arising out of an international contract or treaty.
Nevertheless, since this case was brought unilaterally by the Philippines,
the Philippines would find it difficult to depart from any detrimental
implication arising out of this case, including setting its territorial
limits with Malaysia (Sabah).