As expected, Singapore is to claim its new extended territorial waters and exclusive economic zone (EEZ) after it succeeded in obtaining ownership of Batu Puteh or Pedra Branca (white rock or batu puteh in Portuguese). The International Court of Justice (ICJ) awarded Batu Puteh's ownership to Singapore while confirming Malaysia's authority over Middle Rocks.
According to the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, territorial waters, or a territorial sea, as a belt of coastal waters extending at most 12 nautical miles from the baseline (usually the mean low-water mark) of a coastal state. The territorial sea is regarded as the sovereign territory of the state, although foreign ships (both military and civilian) are allowed innocent passage through it, this sovereignty also extends to the airspace over an seabed below.
The baseline from which the territorial sea is meaured is the low-water line along the coast as marked on large-scale charts officially recognized by the coastal state. This is either the low-water mark closest to the shore, or alternatively it may be unlimited distance from permanently exposed land, provided that some portion of elevations exposed at low tide but covered at high tide is within 12 nautical miles (22 km) of permanently exposed land.
A state's territorial sea extends up to 12 nautical miles from its baseline. If this would overlap with another state's territorial sea (as in the Malaysia-Singapore case), the border is taken as the median point between the states' baselines, unless the states in question agree otherwise.
Singapore's present territorial sea (excluding Johor Straits) is 3 nautical miles (5.6 km) while Malaysia covers 12 nautical miles (22.2 km).
An exclusive economic zone (EEZ) extends for 200 nautical miles (370 km) beyond the baselines of the territorial sea, thus it includes the territorial sea and its contiguous zone. The contiguous zone is a band of water extending from the outer edge of the territorial sea to up to 24 nautical miles (44 km) from the baseline, within which a state can exert limited control for the purpose of preventing or punishing infringement of its customs, fiscal, immigration or sanitary laws and regulations within its territory or territorial sea.
A coastal nation has control of all economic resources within its EEZ, including fishing, mining, oil exploration, and any pollution of those resources. However, it cannot regulate or prohibit passage or loitering above, on, or under the surface of the sea, whether innocent or belligerent (war-like, within that portion of its exclusive zone beyond its territorial sea.
The NST correctly described Singapore's claims of its "territorial waters and EEZ" as "Lion's share". The Singapore Lion or Merlion is claiming its share of the meat.
It is very clear that the ICJ's judgement was never a "win-win situation" for Malaysia but a major victory for Singapore. From a territorial sea of 3 nautical miles or 5.6 km, the island republic is now claiming a 12 nautical-mile or 22 km territorial sea, not from main its main island, but from Batu Puteh and 200 nautical miles or 370 km EEZ, also from Batu Puteh.
The question now is to clarify whether Batu Puteh is an island as defined by international laws. If it is not an island, can Singapore lay claim to extend its territorial sea and EEZ? The ball is now in Wisma Putra's court.