PETALING JAYA: The International Court of Justice (ICJ) has recognised Malaysia’s rights and sovereignty over Sabah and its surrounding islands in its decision on a territorial dispute involving Ligitan and Sipadan in 2002, said the Malaysian Bar. Its vice-president Christopher Leong said that although the Philippines had not been a party in the dispute between Malaysia and Indonesia, it was clear in the ICJ’s judgement on Dec 17, 2002, that the Sulu Sultanate did not have a legitimate claim to Sabah.
History, he said, had shown that the Sulu Sultanate had, during several incidents between April 19, 1851, and June 26, 1946 “relinquished and ceded all of its rights” over Sabah.
“In any event, as a matter of post-colonial self-determination, the people of Sabah voted overwhelmingly to join Malaysia in a referendum held in 1962, which was organised by the Cobbold Commision,” he pointed out in a statement here yesterday.
As an independent nation, said Leong, Malaysia had a sovereign right to ensure that the territorial integrity of its international borders was recognised and respected.
Extending the Bar’s condolences to the families of the slain police personnel, Leong said they had “paid the highest price in the defence of the nation and territory”.
He also urged the Government to honour its commitment to international human rights standards in its treatment of those detained in Sabah as well as protect the well-being of civilians caught in the conflict zone.
“While the Government must protect its citizens and detain the perpetrators of violence, it must also grant those detained the due process of the law,” he said.
“It is our conduct and observance of the law and human rights in the face of adversity that will differentiate us from those who would seek to threaten us and commit acts of aggression against us,” he said.