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Friday March 20, 2009

Limbang border to be set

KUALA LUMPUR: The question over the ownership of Limbang will be settled when the border between Malaysia and Brunei is completely demarcated, Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim said.

He said the demarcation process was now able to proceed following the signing of the letters of exchange between Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and Brunei’s Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah on Monday.

The letters agreed that the boundary demarcation would be based on five agreements signed between Brunei and Sarawak from 1920 to 1939 while the remaining sections would be demarcated according to the watershed principle.

Dr Rais said the acceptance of these principles would essentially place Limbang district within Malaysia’s borders, although the letters did not expressly mention the name of the district.

“The Limbang issue will be no more once the physical demarcation is completed,” he told reporters at a press conference after the launch of the Humanitarian Appeal Fund at the Institute of Diplomacy and Foreign Relations here yesterday.

Dr Rais was asked to comment on reports by the Brunei press quoting its Second Foreign Minister Pehin Lim Jock Seng denying that the letters of exchange contained any mention of the Limbang question.

Brunei had a longstanding claim over Limbang, which was ceded to Sarawak in 1890.

Abdullah announced on Monday after signing the letters of exchange that the Limbang question had been settled as Brunei had officially dropped its claim over the territory.

Explaining the demarcation process, Dr Rais said two of the five agreement were specifically related to the boundary between Brunei and the Limbang district.

The watershed principle would also essentially result in the border not deviating from the current one.

“By accepting these agreements, it will mean that Limbang is within Malaysia’s borders,” he said when contacted.

He said both parties would have to wait between 12 to 18 months for the dermarcation work to be completed by the technical committee.

On the Brunei press reports, Dr Rais said: “I hope this issue won’t be politicised despite their local media raising issues.”

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