Disputes over islands are sowing mistrust and risk sparking an unintended conflict.

OUR little boat bobbed about in the churning waters for several hours before we caught sight of the tiny island, 45km east of Singapore. A mere speck on the vast sea, it looked forlorn with its solitary lighthouse.

As we approached the rock, covered in bird droppings, it became clear how the island dubbed Pedra Branca.