Thursday, March 19, 2009

Limbang: One flop for the road?

My blog comrades, Bigdogdotcom, the blogger who first called Abdullah as PM Flip Flop, showered Abdullah with praises for settling the long dispute with Brunei over Limbang territory.

He said Abdullah finally did someting right for getting Brunei to drop claims on Limbang, after berating over many issues, in particular with the Johor-Singapore issues.

Subject to no sudden twist of event, Abdullah is expected to resign as Prime Minister to transfer power to Dato Seri Najib Tun Abdul Razak after the UMNO GA. The date is still subject to be official as the speculated dates range from month end 30th March, to 3rd or 5th April and an outlier predicting another four months.

Unfortunately, Big Dog's excitement was shortlived.

He may have missed several issues pointed out in The Star's March 17th report namely, on the proportion for each country for the defined “commercial arrangement area” for oil and gas revenue. In 2003, Malaysia and Brunei had dispute over oil exploration awards involving four blocks.

Another being the definition for “unsuspendable rights of maritime access” is still unclear.

The mainstream media seemed to be churning one last round of praise for him to claim it as a milestone and win-win situation. But by the following day, Brunei dispute report in the Malaysian press stating they have yet to drop cliam on Limbang.

Knowing his negligence for details, what is the specifics of the deal? Is this to be outgoing PM's last flip flop or perhaps another flop for the road?

The Star's report reproduced below:

The Star Online, Tuesday March 17, 2009

Brunei drops claim over Limbang district, says Abdullah


BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN: Brunei has officially dropped its long-standing claim over Sarawak’s Limbang district after the two countries resolved various land and maritime territory disputes.

“Brunei has decided to drop the Limbang issue and as a result, Limbang is part of Malaysian territory,” Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi announced to Malaysian media.

The resolution of the disputes were sealed via the signing of the Letters of Exchange by Abdullah and the Sultan of Brunei Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah at Istana Nurul Iman here yesterday.

A new era: Abdullah (second from left) and Sultan Hassanal exchanging the Letters of Exchange that mark the end of the territorial dispute. Looking on is Dr Rais (left) and Brunei Foreign Minister Pengiran Muda Mohamed Bolkiah. — Bernama

The other disputes include over where the maritime boundary between the two countries in the South China Sea should run, the rights to exploit potentially rich oil deposits in the disputed maritime territory, the right of movement by Malaysian vessels over Brunei waters and the demarcation of the common boundary of the two countries.

The dispute over Limbang 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 Sara-wak.

Yesterday, Abdullah thanked the Sultan for the resolution of the various disputes, especially that of Limbang.

He said bilateral relations between the two countries would now enter a new era.

Abdullah and the Sultan said in a joint statement that they had reached agreement over the maritime boundaries between the two countries in the South China Sea.

They also agreed to establish a “commercial arrangement area” where oil and gas revenue in the disputed area would be shared between the two nations. How much each country would get was not disclosed.

The two sides also agreed to the existence of “unsuspendable rights of maritime access” which guaranteed the right of movement by Malaysian vessels through Brunei territorial waters provided Brunei’s laws and regulations are obser-ved.

Lastly, the Letters of Exchange also established the methods to demarcate the land boundary between the two countries.

The negotiations over the agreements, which began in 1995, took 39 rounds of talks to reach the resolution.

The dispute over maritime territory arose out of a 1979 map published by Malaysia which indicated that all deep-sea territorial waters off the coast of Brunei belonged to Malaysia.

The latest dispute over maritime territory occurred in 2003 when Malaysia and Brunei awarded petroleum production-sharing contracts for four exploration blocks to different companies in the disputed area, close to where a 440 million-barrel discovery had been made the year before.

Following the dispute, both countries agreed to stop drilling activities in the area.

Related story:

Win-win situation for Brunei and Malaysia
The claim that the Limbang issues was settled was denied by the Bruneian the following day. Borneo Bulleting reported Brunei's Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade II claiming it was not discussed. Read below:

BruneiDirect March 18th, 2009

Brunei Denies Limbang Story

By Azlan Othman

Bandar Seri Begawan - YB Pehin Orang Kaya Pekerma Dewa Dato Seri Setia Awg Lim Jock Seng, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade II, yesterday said claims on Limbang were never discussed during Monday’s deliberations between Brunei and Malaysia.

He was responding to YB Dato Paduka Hj Puasa bin Orang Kaya Seri Pahlawan Tudin’s query on the contents of the “Letter of Exchange” signed between Brunei and Malaysia, which also touched on Brunei’s claims over Limbang at the Legislative Council meeting yesterday.

Pehin Lim said there were certain press reports yesterday claiming that Brunei has dropped claims over Limbang.

“In actual fact, the claim on Limbang was never discussed. What was discussed was the demarcation of land boundaries on the whole,” he said.

“The joint press statement issued yesterday mentioned that the demarcation of the land boundaries between the two countries will be resolved on the basis of five existing historical agreements between the Government of Brunei and the State of Sarawak, and, as appropriate, the watershed principle.

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

His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam and Malaysian Prime Minister Dato’ Seri Abdullah Haji Ahmad Badawi held a four-eye meeting at the Istana Nurul Iman on Monday and signed the Exchange of Letters to mark the successful conclusion of negotiations.

The negotiations have been ongoing for many years on outstanding bilateral issues between the two countries with regard to historical, legal and other relevant criteria involving both sides.

Both noted the agreement of their respective governments on the key elements contained in the Exchange of Letters, which included the final delimitation of maritime boundaries between Brunei Darussalam and Malaysia, the establishment of Commercial Agreement Area (CAA) on oil and gas, the modalities for the final demarcation of the land boundary between Brunei Darussalam and Malaysia and unsuspendable rights of maritime access for nationals and residents of Malaysia across Brunei’s maritime zones en route to and from their destination in Sarawak, Malaysia provided that Brunei’s laws and regulations are observed.

Meanwhile, YB Pehin Orang Kaya Johan Pahlawan Dato Seri Setia Awg Hj Adanan, the Minister of Home Affairs, said an allocation has been made in the budget to upgrade the Kuala Lurah Control Post.

After the border issue between Brunei and Malaysia is resolved, work will be carried out to identify the site.

He was responding to a query by YB Dato Paduka Hj Puasa on the long queues that border hoppers normally experience during school holidays, Hari Raya and other public holidays and the need to upgrade Pandaruan ferry services and Puni Control Post in Temburong.

YB Dato Paduka Hj Puasa added that the opening of a new bridge soon in Trusan, Lawas will further aggravate the situation should these control post projects are not carried out.
An SMS claimed from Sarawak claimed the Sarawakian are furious over claim that Abdullah signed away RM18 billion worth of oil reserves to Brunei.

Not only is the Malaysian press, namely The Star querying over the content of the agreement but the Bruneians too. The claimed agreement by PM Flip Flop, Abdullah's reinstated title, created quite a stir in Brunei.
Borneo Bulleting, March 18th, 2009

Local media not privy to Limbang spat

By M K Anwar

The issue about Brunei dropping its territorial claim on Limbang has caused a stir among members of the public as questions are being asked over the veracity about this claim.

Malaysian media have widely reported Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi as saying that Brunei has dropped its claim on Limbang.

This statement was made at a press conference on Monday at the Malaysian High Commission exclusively for the Malaysian media.

Local media representatives were earlier barred from attending the press conference. The visit itinerary didn't state it was an exclusive affair.

The exclusive press briefing held for the Malaysian media in Brunei on Monday following the signing of Letters of Exchange (LOE) apparently generated the latest controversy over Limbang.

Though no official copies of the LOE were made available, the five main points that were highlighted mostly involved the demarcation of boundaries between the two countries.

Malaysian media quoting their Prime Minister reported that Brunei has decided to give up all claims on Limbang.

Brunei's Second Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Pehin Dato Lim Jock Seng yesterday at the Legislative Council session set the record straight by denying that there was any discussion on Limbang during Monday's deliberations.

Responding to a question by a member of the Legislative Council, Pehin Lim said that the claims on Limbang were never discussed.

What is rather puzzling in hindsight is about why the Brunei media was not permitted to cover the press briefing.

When Borneo Bulletin as well as state media persons went to cover the press conference, they were politely shunted out saying that it was 'exclusive' for the Malaysian media.

Now this purported statement by the Malaysian media is quickly knitting controversy, the local reporters wonder why they were kept out when Limbang, which is a matter that concerns Brunei, was spoken about.

For now members of the public in general are posing questions over comments made regarding Brunei dropping its territorial claim on Limbang. Malaysian media meanwhile are still publicising the story with extensive updates.
Why was the event meant exclusively for the Malaysian Press? Is the outgoing PM trying to pull a wool on the eyes of the Malaysian public?


Anonymous said...

Tak lain tidurlah tu kita punya PM ni. Pak Lah, cepat-cepatlah serahkan jawatan pada Najib. Teman dah malu nak ngaku rakyat Malaysia selagi Pak Lah pegang jawatan PM. Mengantuk nak tidor kejap.





Anonymous said...

Malaysians are the most ungrateful people in the whole of ASEAN...and beyond. THey think they have the right to bully its neighbours... and take what's theirs...Once Oil was found...they suddenly claim its theirs...Limbang is rightfully Brunei's... It won't matter whether the leadership has changed or not because in the end they are all greedy people who can't stop stealing... Lets just see how far you can go with all of this...

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