Thursday, March 19, 2009

This was what Bernama Malaysia's national news agency reported on March 16, 2009.

Brunei Drops Territorial Claim Over Limbang

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN, March 16 (Bernama) -- Brunei has officially dropped its long-standing territorial claim over Limbang, a northern division in Sarawak, marking a new era in the bilateral relations between both countries, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said.

The prime minister said the matter was part of the historic Letters of Exchange (LoE) inked between him and Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei, which formalised the solution to the long-standing Malaysia-Brunei boundary issues, at the Istana Nurul Iman here Monday.

"It has been stated in the LoE that Brunei has dropped the issue and this means that Limbang is part of Malaysia," he told a news conference with Malaysian journalists before heading home at the end of his two-day visit to the sultanate.

Limbang, located on the banks of Sungai Limbang between the two halves of Brunei and covers an area of 3,978 sq km with population of more than 40,000, was annexed by James Brooke, the first Rajah of Sarawak, in 1890 to become the fifth division of Sarawak.

Abdullah, in thanking the Sultan of Brunei and his government for the positive action in making the solution a reality, said that border issues would now cease to haunt the relations between both countries.

"With the issue solved, Brunei and Malaysia can now enter a new era of bilateral relations and cooperation in various fields and there is no more unhappiness over the issue," he said.

A joint statement issued by both leaders stated that among the key points in the LoE was the modalities for the final demarcation of land boundaries between Brunei and Malaysia.

It also stated that the demarcation would be resolved on the basis of five existing historical agreements between the Brunei government and Sarawak government, and as appropriate, the watershed principle.

"Hereafter, all issues pertaining to land boundaries of the two states shall be accordingly resolved," it said.

The statement said among the key elements in the LoE was the "unsuspendable rights of maritime access" for Malaysian nationals and residents across Brunei's maritime zones en route to and from their destinations in Sarawak, provided Brunei's laws and regulations were observed.

"The solution of the maritime delimitation issue ensures certainty with regard to the delimitation of the territorial seas, the continental shelf and the exclusive economic zones (EEZ) of both countries."

The two countries would be able to enforce their rules and regulations and embark on new developments in their respective maritime zones," it said.

The two-page statement also stated that the LoE, which marked a historic and momentous occasion for Brunei and Malaysia, reflected the two countries' ability to reach a comprehensive, fair and equitable package solution in the larger interest of both countries.

It also said that both leaders believed that the signing of the letters would pave the way for the development of strategic partnership and closer collaboration in all fields, especially trade and investment.

Other areas are in energy and hydrocarbon resources, tourism, education, agriculture, infrastructure, banking, halal industry and people-to-people contacts with special focus on the Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak, it said.

Both leaders believed that "the brotherly relations between Brunei and Malaysia will contribute to the promotion of peace and prosperity in the region," the statement said.

They also instructed officials and representatives to follow up and monitor the full implementation of provisions in the letters, which marked the successful conclusion of negotiations, with historical, legal and other relevant criteria acceptable to both sides.

Abdullah, accompanied by wife Datin Seri Jeanne Abdullah, earlier led the Malaysian delegation, which included Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Rais Yatim and Education Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussien, to the historic occasion at the Istana Nurul Iman.

They were welcomed by the Sultan of Brunei and his consorts Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Saleha and Pengiran Isteri Azrinaz Mazhar.Present was the Crown Prince of Brunei, Prince Al-Muhtadee Billah.

Abdullah then held a four-eye meeting with Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah before both of them adjourned to the signing ceremony which took place at the Cabinet Room.

It was witnessed by delegations from both countries including Brunei's Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister Prince Mohamed Bolkiah and Second Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister Pehin Datuk Seri Setia Lim Jock Seng.

Sarawak Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud and Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman were also present at the signing ceremony.

Abdullah later left for home from the Brunei International Airport.-- BERNAMA

And here comes the pie-on-face!

Brunei denies Sarawak border dispute resolved

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN, March 19 — Brunei has denied claims that the sultanate and Malaysia had resolved their territorial dispute over Limbang in Sarawak.

Brunei's Second Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Pehin Dato Lim Jock Seng, on Tuesday set the record straight by denying there was any discussion on Limbang during talks on Monday between Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, the Borneo Bulletin reported yesterday.

“In actual fact, the claim on Limbang was never discussed. What was discussed was the demarcation of land boundaries on the whole,” Lim said in response to a question at the Legislative Council session.

He said a joint press statement issued on Tuesday mentioned that the demarcation of the land boundaries would be resolved on the basis of five existing historical agreements between Brunei and Sarawak.

“After that, a working group comprising general surveyors of the two countries will follow with the technical aspect to solve the land border issue.''

Malaysian media had widely reported Abdullah as saying that Brunei had dropped its claim on Limbang. The Limbang dispute can be traced back to the cession of the territory by Brunei to Sarawak's White Rajahs in 1890. The cession had been strongly disputed by the sultanate, which regarded the transfer as annexation by Sarawak.

The move had resulted in a significant reduction of Brunei's territory and cut the sultanate into two. — The Straits Times