After Deep-sea Fishing Rights, Resolve Sea Boundaries Quickly

JUNZ WONG

KOTA KINABALU: Gabungan Rakyat Sabah leaders should work with their Sarawak counterparts to push for the rejection of the Territorial Sea Act (TSA) 2012.

It is important to strengthen the Sabah and Sarawak rights on its jurisdiction over its boundaries under the continental shelf.

The federal government’s move to give jurisdiction to the state to issue deep sea fishing licences will only be strengthened if the issues over the Territorial Sea Act concerning Sabah and Sarawak sea boundaries are resolved.

“It is a positive move by the federal government to allow for Sabah to hold licensing rights for deepsea fishing.

“It is one of the 21 issues highlighted since the Pakatan Harapan government begun the efforts to resolving outstanding issues with regards to rights of the Borneo states under Malaysia Agreement 1963.

However, without a proper resolution to the Borneo state’s rights on the continental shelf, the state’s rights over deep sea fishing was only an “empowerment” through a letter by the federal government which can be withdrawn any time.

It was the stand of the Warisan Plus Sabah government that the state’s boundary rights should be as stated under the North Borneo (Alteration of Boundaries) Order in Council, 1954, which covers the continental shelf.
The Territorial Sea Act limits Sabah’s control over its continental shelf which objected not only by Sabah and Sarawak government’s but also Kelantan.

The TSA was passed by Parliament in 2012 and it outlines the limits of the area of sovereignty of the country and its states from the coastline.

International law limits Malaysian territorial waters to 12 nautical miles (22km) from the coast, the TSA limits state jurisdiction to only three nautical miles (5.5km) from the coast.

The TSA issue is among one of four key issues under MA63 negotiations that have not been resolved. Others include Sabah’s oil and gas resources.

He said the issue on deep sea fishing licence be given back to Sabah was very much an issue pushed by the Warisan-led government when the federal government was under the Pakatan Harapan.

He said the GRS government was just following up on issues put in place by the Warisan government and were now taking credit for so-called “achievements” like revenue from petroleum product sales tax, Air Asia Hub, six collection centres, return of Sipadan and Ligitan management to the state.

“Now they are claiming credit for the deep sea fishing licenses. All these were started by Warisan and the hard work by Warisan. I hope GRS will do something more than just riding on all the matters worked on by the Warisan-led government,” he added.

“Why not do something which Warisan hasn’t started to prove that GRS can really fight for our rights rather than just taking credit from Warisan’s past works? Or we can only start hoping to get back our rights with Warisan coming back as the Sabah state government,” he said.