Could our villages move to Malaysia?

NUNUKAN, East Kalimantan: The lack of development in five villages on East Kalimantan’s border with Malaysia’s Sabah state might result in them being absorbed into the neighboring country, a local councilor has warned, says a Jakarta Globe report.
Hermanus, a member of the Nunukan district legislature representing the sub district of Lumbis Ogong, said on Tuesday that the border area there had never been clearly distinguished because Malaysia did not recognize a marker put up in 1965.

He said this left the newly created villages of Sumantipal, Labang, Ngawol, Lagas and Bulu Laun Hilir, at the northernmost periphery of Lumbis Ogong, at risk of being claimed by Malaysia unless the provincial and central governments did more to develop them.

“The demarcation of the border in that area was done after the confrontation period [of 1965] between the two countries, but they never reached an agreement. The problem still hasn’t been resolved,” Hermanus said.

He also said the five villages had been established in mid-2011 as breakaway regions of Lumbis Ogong and were sandwiched between Nunukan district and Kampung Bantul in Sabah.

As new administrative regions, he said, they have very little in the way of infrastructure and rely heavily on trade with Kampung Bantul to meet their demand for food and other basic commodities.

He said that the remoteness of the villages, reachable from the rest of Nunukan only by light airplane, was what made them reliant on Malaysia, which is accessible by road.

“Malaysia hasn’t explicitly laid claim to those villages,” Hermanus was quick to point out.

Reports of Indonesian communities enjoying closer ties with their neighbors across the border than with those on their side of it are not new in largely underdeveloped Nunukan district.

Krayan sub district in particular depends heavily on trade with and food from Malaysia to meet its needs.

The lone road from the sub district to the district capital can only be traversed during the dry season. In the rainy season, it remains flooded for months.

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