You heard that right. Pedra Branca, population: 0, is now part of the East Coast electoral division. The decision to include the island east of Singapore was announced on February 1 by the Electoral Department Singapore on the electronic Government Gazette.
Pedra Branca joins Bedok, Simei, Siglap and offshore islands Pulau Ubin, Tekong, Tekong Kechil, Ketam and Coney Island as part of the East Coast electoral division. As you may have figured now, the inclusion of Singapore’s offshore islands is nothing new. Past examples of other offshore islands include Sultan Shoal, which is off the coast of Jurong Island, and Kusu Island, which lies south-east of Sentosa.
Why include the island now?
The decision to include Pedra Branca was after Malaysia announced that it would withdraw its application in May 2018 to revise the judgement made by the International Court of Justice that awarded the sovereignty of the tiny island to Singapore back in 2008. Malaysia’s withdrawal meant that it could no longer challenge Singapore’s sovereignty of Pedra Branca, as the 10-year window of appeal after the judgement has expired.
The inclusion of Pedra Branca as part of Singapore’s electoral divisions could also be seen as an outward and explicit display of its sovereignty. This is considering the maritime dispute between Singapore and Malaysia which has seen high tensions between the two countries that have existed even before their merger in 1963. Interestingly enough, TODAY questioned the ELD why Pedra Branca was included in the East Coast Electoral Division only now, but not in time for the 2011 General Election. The ELD responded, “all offshore islands that are part of Singapore’s territory are included in our electoral map”.