KOTA KINABALU: There is no basis for the Federal government to dispute Sabah and Sarawak’s boundaries and insisting on the enforcement of the Territorial Sea Act 2012 (TSA) which effectively reduces their boundaries to 3 nautical miles from the continental shelf.

Datuk Dr.  Jeffrey Kitingan,  Keningau Member of Parliament who is also Bingkor State Assemblyman  in a press statement questioned the de facto Law Minister’s statement on the boundaries.

The Law Minister, Datuk VK Liew, had stated that the boundaries together with the oil and gas ownership and royalties and the TSA were amongst the four (4) issues not resolved by the MA63 Special Committee.

The Minister who is also a lawyer should be telling the Special Committee that “It is undisputable that the boundary of Sabah and Sarawak extended to the continental shelf including the seabed and its subsoil which lies beneath the high Sea since 1954 with the adoption of the respective Queen’s Order in Council in 1954 and it has never been lawfully changed since then,” Jeffery said.

“These boundaries were the boundaries recognized in Article 1(3) of the Constitution as the boundaries of Sabah and Sarawak immediately preceding Malaysia Day, 16 September 1963,” he added.

According to him, like Sarawak, the Sabah Legislature has never assented to any change in Sabah’s boundary since 1954, save for Labuan’s cession in 1984 as a federal territory.

No laws can be passed by the Federal Parliament to alter the boundaries of Sabah and Sarawak without first amending Article 1(3) and without getting the prior approval of their respective State Legislative Assemblies, he said.

“Similarly no laws can be passed to take away the ownership of the territories of Sabah and Sarawak and the ownership of the resources located within including Sabah and Sarawak’s oil and gas resources.”

In fact, the surrender of Blocks L & M within Sabah’s boundaries in 2008 by the Federal government to Brunei was an unlawful seizure of Sabah’s territories, he said, adding that the  present Pakatan Harapan Federal government should seriously look into recovering the Blocks L&M which probably are worth hundreds of billion ringgit with its rich oil and gas reserves that are being illegal siphoned.

“As for the TSA 2012, it is an unconstitutional law meant to reduce and take away Sabah and Sarawak’s boundaries and “steal” their oil and gas resources.”

Any argument in support of the TSA due to an international treaty, which Malaysia has signed without consultation and consent of Sabah and Sarawak, does not override the territorial and sovereign rights of Sabah and Sarawak which includes its boundaries up to the continental shelf since 1954, he stressed.

If it can be done without Sabah’s assent, Malaysia might as well sign and give Sabah to Southern Philippines instead of covertly issuing the PSS and allowing Southern Filipinos to takeover Sabah through the back-door.

“The Law Minister and the Federal should remember that Malaysia is a federation of previously four (4) and now three (3) equal partners, Malaya, Sabah and Sarawak. The territory of the Malaysian federation is the sum of the individual territories of Malaya, Sabah and Sarawak. The Federal government cannot be altering the boundaries of the component States of the Federation, namely, Malaya, Sabah and Sarawak, at its whims and fancies.”

Similarly, the de facto Law Minister should be advising the MA63 Special Committee that the TSA is unconstitutional and unlawfully passed and should be repealed. In addition, as a Sabahan, he should advise when it is wrong of the Federal government to act against the best interests of Sabah, he said.

“It is nonsensical for Sabah and Sarawak’s boundaries to be reduced to 3 nautical miles while the rest of the Sea after the 3 nautical miles belong to the Federal government under the TSA. The sovereign rights over such seas up to the continental shelf belongs to Sabah and Sarawak.”

It is an unsustainable legal proposition to restrict Sabah and Sarawak to 3 nautical miles and takeaway their sovereign rights up to the continental shelf.

“Does it mean that if the TSA is enforced and Sabah and Sarawak are no longer in Malaysia, Sabahans and Sarawakians going to sea beyond 3 nautical miles would have to bring their passports for venturing into Malaysian sea and the Federal government will be setting up immigration check points in the open Sea to allow them to enter the Malaysian territorial sea?”

Only time will tell whether the present Sabah government will surrender Sabah’s territories beyond 3 nautical miles together with all its oil and gas resources which stretch all the way from Sabah’s shoreline to the continental shelf including the Spratley Islands by accepting the TSA It will be treason if they do, Jeffery opined.-pr/BNN