Malaysia, Indonesia ink agreement over Sulawesi maritime border dispute

PUTRAJAYA: Solutions to two long standing maritime border disputes were among the agreements that were signed by Malaysia and Indonesia during Indonesian President Joko Widodo’s two-day working visit to the country on Thursday (June 8).

The two agreements settled negotiations that have gone on for more than a dozen years regarding maritime borders in the southernmost part of the Malacca straits and Sulu sea between Malaysia's closest neighbour.

The agreements, which came in the form of a bilateral instrument, were signed by Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Zambry Abd Kadir (pic) and his Indonesian counterpart Retno Lestari Priansari Marsudi.

These two instruments are the "Treaty relating to the Delimitation of the Territorial Seas of the Two Countries in the Southernmost Part of the Melaka Straits" and the "Treaty between Malaysia and Indonesia Relating to the Delimitation of the Territorial Seas of the Two Countries in the Sulawesi Sea."

On the treaties, Jokowi said that he welcomed the solution for the disputed areas.

“I welcome the solution towards the negotiations on the territories of Sulawesi in the south. After 18 years of negotiations, it has been resolved,” said Jokowi during a joint press conference with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim at Seri Perdana this morning.

Anwar, who spoke earlier, said that he regards Jokowi as a true friend and added that negotiations was held cordially.

“The Indonesian President told me that the negotiations have been ongoing for many years and it couldn’t be resolved,” said Anwar.

“I’m proud of both leaderships today. We managed to resolve an issue that we have negotiated for many years,” he added.

Anwar also said discussions between Malaysia and Indonesia noted that investments and trade matters were crucial.

“That is why we placed emphasis on direct foreign investment and to facilitate trade at the borders,” said Anwar.

“We also allocated RM1bil to strengthen several statutory bodies, the immigrations and customs at the borders, which also includes, roads and infrastructure,” added Anwar.

After the press conference ended, Anwar and Jokowi left Seri Perdana and head to another function at the Jalan Raja Alang market in Chow Kit.

In a joint statement by Anwar and Jokowi, the treaty between two countries in the Southernmost Part of the Straits of Melaka and the Sulawesi Sea Treaty was regarded as a significant milestone.

“The two leaders expressed commitment to expedite their respective internal processes towards realising the simultaneous entry into force of the treaties.

“Both leaders are determined to resolve the land boundary issues on OBP Pulau Sebatik, OBP Sungai Sinapad-Sesai, and new West Pillar on Pulau Sebatik to AA2 Pillar, as well as issues relating to the intertidal area in the east of Pulau Sebatik and the gap from the low water line to Point M by June 2024.

“Both leaders expressed their views that the signing of the treaties symbolises the harmonious relationship and camaraderie between both countries and provides a solid foundation for future maritime boundary negotiations between the two countries,” said the statement.

The joint statement also said Anwar and Jokowi agreed to task their maritime boundary negotiation teams to commence negotiations as soon as possible on all remaining and outstanding maritime boundaries between both countries simultaneously.

Aside from the agreement on resolving maritime disputes, the other six bilateral instruments inked between Malaysia and Indonesia was an agreement between both countries on Border Crossing, and an agreement on Border Trade.

Others were the Memorandum of Cooperation between both countries on the Mutual Recognition of Halal Certification for Domestic Products and a Memorandum of Understanding between both countries on Cooperation in Investment Promotion.

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