Reject Territorial Sea Act restricting right over sea, Sarawak told


PETALING JAYA: Sarawak PKR has called on the state government to reject the implementation of a law passed by Parliament in 2012 which limits the state’s sovereign right and jurisdiction over its surrounding seas, from within 12km from the coastline to just 3km.

Its vice-chairman See Chee How said the Territorial Sea Act 2012 (TSA) was unconstitutional as far as it affected the territorial boundaries of Sarawak and Sabah.

He said Sarawak should claim its full rights as specified under Article 1(3) of the Federal Constitution which stipulates that the territories of Sarawak, Sabah and 11 other states comprise areas they had jurisdiction over prior to Malaysia Day on Sept 16, 1963.

“The Federation cannot enact any law altering or affecting our territorial boundary unless Sarawak first passes a law in our legislative assembly to alter it,” he said.

The Batu Lintang assemblyman said the relevant provisions in the act, including Sections 3 and 4, must be amended to specify that the provisions have no application to Sarawak and Sabah.

Section 3(3) states that the area under the state’s jurisdiction would not exceed three nautical miles, measured from the low water line.

He said the TSA had made reference to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) to justify the limitation, which he called “misleading and fallacious.”

“The reference to UNCLOS by the Territorial Sea Act 2012 was the ‘wool over our eyes’ which appears to have continued to blind the state administration,” he said in a statement today.

“It is only by claiming our full rights to Sarawak’s continental shelf in accordance with the Federal Constitution that we can maintain full control of the use and development of all resources belonging to Sarawak, including the full licensing rights to oil and gas exploration and development.”

“Most importantly, we must not shoot ourselves in our foot by agreeing to the limitation of our territorial sea to 12 nautical miles,” said See.

He claimed that the TSA had even taken away the state’s rightful claim to the continental shelf beyond the 12 nautical miles and reduced it to 3 nautical miles from the shore.

“For an estimate of the norms, there is a reduction of 197 nautical miles,” he said.

See said Sarawak would therefore make a mistake if it was agreeable to limit its territorial sea to just 12 nautical miles.

“Other resources in and on our continental shelf aside, there is only very little oil and gas fields that are sited within the 12-nautical mile limits,” he said.

“Are we to give up all the rights to oil and gas mining to the federal (government), for those fields outside the 12-nautical mile limit?”

“That would be a huge sell-out of our territorial rights,” he added.

See also said various orders in council adopted by the Sarawak assembly in 1954, 1958, 1960 and 1962, as well as the Sarawak Land Code, had legally delineated and determined the state’s territorial boundary.

He added that the Continental Shelf Act 1966 and the Petroleum Mining Act 1966 also ceased to have effect in Sarawak with the repeal of the Emergency (Public Order and Crimes Prevention) Ordinance 1969 in 2013.