The sovereignty of a rock, known as Pulau Batu Putih in Malaysia and Pedra Branca in Singapore, has been called into question. The rock, physically closer to Malaysia and located east of Singapore, is home to many seagulls. Singapore insists that the birds are Singaporeans, while Malaysia insists that they are just birds. Singapore has dispatched a high-level delegation to the International Court of Justice in The Hague and has taken one of the birds along as proof. The Deputy Prime Minister’s strategy is to hold the bird up in front of the judges and ask them to compare the bird with a picture of MM Lee in his youth. If they think that they bear a resemblance, then the bird must be Singaporean and the rock that they live on must be part of Singapore.
The rock itself, while only the size of a football field, is of prime strategic importance to Singapore. This is because many Singaporean birds like to congregate there and ponder migration, and migration is a big problem in Singapore today. Malaysia, on the other hand, thinks that the birds should be free to migrate whenever they choose, and the rock is closer to Malaysia in any case. “Any sick birds will be promptly taken to a Malaysian hospital,” said Prime Minister Badawi of Malaysia.