Malaysia has deployed a missile-capable ship for the first time to its new maritime base on the Middle Rocks, which is near Pedra Branca, the island awarded to Singapore in a 2008 International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruling that Putrajaya is challenging.
The vessel dispatched to the Abu Bakar Maritime Base, located about 1km south of Pedra Branca, was the 44m missile-capable fast-attack craft Perdana.
Patriotic Singaporeans immediately reacted to the news
But are we justified to feel provoked?
Remember how Ng Eng Hen went ra-ra over Pedra Branca last month in the spirit of National Day?
Not only did we place our own warship there, but we made such a huge song and dance about it.
“With National Day around the corner, streets, camps and homes across our nation are decked out with Singapore flags and banners in celebration of another birthday, including Pedra Branca too! Majulah Singapura!”
– Ng Eng Hen
The row over the ownership of Pedra Branca dates back to 1979, when Malaysia published a map indicating the island to be within the country’s territorial waters.
Singapore lodged a formal protest with Malaysia in early 1980. It took more than 20 years for the dispute to be brought before the ICJ in July 2003.
All through those decades, when the matter was still with the courts, we deployed our RSS Independence to patrol the contested areas.
Why are we being provoked when Malaysia only just started to do the same now?
In May 2008, after several rounds of written pleadings and public hearings, the court ruled Pedra Branca to be Singapore territory.
It also ruled that sovereignty over the Middle Rocks belongs to Malaysia.