I have always believed that it was more of a dispute over "territorial waters" than just over a few rocks and hard places in the middle of the ocean.
Malaysia has always been suspicious of Singapore's motives and intentions. Yesterday's International Courts of Justice decision to award sovereignty of Pulau Batu Puteh a.k.a. Pedra Blanca to Singapore by default and the adjacent Middle Rocks to Malaysia must have put paid to Singapore's "territorial ambitions", if she had any. For Singapore, this simply means that their navy gun-boats cannot now prevent Malaysian fishermen from fishing in an indeed fertile fishing grounds where they have done for centuries, or commence reclamation works in the area without consulting Malaysian authorities.
Singapore can now rightfully claim ownership of the island, conveniently referred to as "Horsburgh" by us mariners and maintain and operate the Horsburgh lighthouse until doomsday, in the interest of navigational safety. Coincidently, Singapore is also currently operating and maintaining by treaty at their own costs, the lighthouse on Pulau Pisang, off the west coast of Johor. This is perfectly acceptable for Malaysia, since Singapore collects a major portion of "light dues" from merchant ships passing through both the Malacca and Singapore Straits.
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