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Wednesday, March 21, 2018

State territorial waters still at 12 nautical miles, says Sarawak CM

Sarawak Chief Minister Abang Johari Openg has reiterated that the state’s territorial waters are indeed 12 nautical miles and not three nautical miles as specified under a law passed by Parliament in 2012, The Borneo Post reported.

He described the Territorial Sea Act 2012 (TSA) as not valid because Sarawak had never consented to the amendment to the boundary of its territorial waters in Parliament.

“Sarawak has the right to the established boundaries of water of 12 nautical miles.

“Nobody can change that as in Article 2 of the State List, you can’t change the boundary unless the state consents in legislation.

“I stand by the Federal Constitution as the supreme law. If I am wrong, sue me but if I am right, support me,” he was quoted as saying by the Sarawak-based daily.

Abang Johari added that he had the support of Prime Minister Najib Razak on his stand.

The Federal Constitution allows Parliament to alter a state’s boundary but such changes require the consent of the affected state as well as that of the Conference of Rulers, and Sarawak has yet to enact any law accepting the changes under the TSA.

In fact, at the end of 2015, the state assembly unanimously passed a motion to reject the TSA.

It was previously reported that if Sarawak succeeds in its fight to get back its rights under the Malaysia Agreement 1963 from the federal government, there is likely to be a seismic change in the way Petronas operates there and the share of oil revenue that Sarawak gets.

That is because ownership of territorial seas and waters means it is within Sarawak’s right to take control of her marine wealth and to exercise the power to grant licences for prospecting, exploration, granting of oil mining leases, and to issue deep-sea fishing licences.

This would mean that Petronas, which now basically dictates oil and gas activities, may just have to apply for such licences to work in Sarawak waters. - FMT

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