Thursday, August 5

Sabah against enforcing Territorial Sea Act on state – Jeffrey

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Datuk Dr Jeffrey Kitingan – Bernama photo

KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah government will continue to oppose any attempt to enforce the Territorial Sea Act 2012 (Act 750) on Sabah and Sarawak, said Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Dr Jeffrey Kitingan.

The Act which was passed by Parliament in 2012, unilaterally reduces the territorial sea of Sabah and Sarawak from 12 nautical miles to three nautical miles (a reduction of nine nautical miles, or 16.5km).

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In a statement on Tuesday, Kitingan, who attended a briefing on the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) chaired by Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor on Monday, demanded that the federal government limit the scope of the Act to the peninsula only.

Kitingan who is also STAR president, added that the Act should not include Sabah and Sarawak as these two territories had never agreed to such an imposition.

“The Act is unconstitutional as it violates Article 1(3) of the Federal Constitution which states that the territories of each state are the territories comprised immediately before Malaysia Day,” he said.

The Keningau MP said that for the record, the Sabah state legislative assembly had never assented to the expansion of the Act.

“Changing the boundaries of Sabah needs a majority vote in the assembly. Except for the period when Labuan was given away and made a federal territory in 1985, we have never changed our boundaries.

“Losing a territory is a heart-breaking experience for any independent nation.

“Changing our boundaries without our consent is just as painful as losing our territories. Trust me, the people will be furious,” Kitingan said.

He added it was illogical to argue that since the Act was enforced in the peninsula, it should therefore be enforced across the nation, including in Sabah and Sarawak.

“We are separate regions. London does not go to Scotland and seize their territories at their whims and fancies. The same principle holds true for this federation.

“While we are on the subject, I’d like to bring up the fact that the federal government illegally surrendered (oil field) blocks L and M within Sabah’s boundaries in 2008 to Brunei. We want them to be recovered as well,” he said.

The issue of the Territorial Sea Act 2012 is one of four MA63 issues which have remained unresolved, aside from Sabah’s oil and gas resources, since 2017.

In 2019, Pakatan Harapan’s previous special Cabinet committee meeting to review and implement MA63 had said it had resolved 17 out of 21 issues tabled by the Sabah and Sarawak governments.

Besides the Territorial Sea Act, the other unresolved issues are oil royalty issues and petroleum cash payments, oil minerals and oil fields, and state rights over the continental shelf.

Sarawak Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Openg had also previously voiced out against the Act, saying in 2018 that their territorial waters are 12 nautical miles and not three nautical miles as specified under the Territorial Sea Act.

He described the Territorial Sea Act as not valid because Sarawak had never consented to the amendment to the boundary of its territorial waters in Parliament.