Territorial claims the toughest part of MA63 talks, says minister

Hundreds of islands of the Natuna and Riau archipelagoes that lie between Pahang and Sarawak were mentioned by de facto law minister Liew Vui Keong.

KOTA KINABALU: Territorial rights have now become a complex issue in the Malaysia Agreement 1963 talks between the federal and state governments of Sabah and Sarawak, according to a federal minister.

De facto law minister Liew Vui Keong said the issues regarding territorial waters and border claims could not be easily resolved as it involves over a hundred years of history, including border setting by the British colonial governments, the formation of Malaysia, and also involves Indonesia, Brunei and Singapore.

Liew said all 21 issues about the Malaysia Agreement, raised before a special federal committee, had been resolved.

A dispute between the state governments of Sabah and Sarawak and the federal government on oil royalty would be handled at exclusive meetings between the chief ministers of the two states and the prime minister.

Liew said the two chief ministers would be meeting Dr Mahathir Mohamad on Monday regarding the oil royalty, and the prime minister is expected to announce progress on the issue after the meeting.

The territorial issues would be the last to be resolved.

“Do you know that in between Peninsular Malaysia and Borneo Island, there are some islands in the middle that belong to Indonesia, right in the middle of the South China Sea,” Liew said to reporters, referring to the hundreds of islands of the Natuna and Riau archipelagoes that lie between Pahang and Sarawak.

Liew said the three state and federal attorneys-general were looking into the issue to resolve territorial claims, which would include some kind of compensation to the states.

When asked whether such discussion would also look into the continental shelf claim by Sabah and Sarawak, Liew said yes, but he pointed out resolving it would not be as easy as thought.

“It is not as easy to resolve this as I said before, some of these territories were drawn up by the British, not forgetting that Sabah and Sarawak became part of Malaysia and some of the borders have been drawn up for hundreds of years.

“So the three attorneys-general really need to sit down to deliberate on this matter as it involves the law and diplomatic ties,” he said.