Brunei Denies Limbang Story

PETALING JAYA: Brunei has denied that it has dropped its claim on Limbang in Sarawak. It says the issue was not even discussed at last Monday’s (17 March) deliberations between the two countries.

Both the Brunei-based papers, The Borneo Bulletin and the Brunei Times Wednesday (18 March) quoted Pehin Orang Kaya Pekerma Dewa Dato Seri Setia Awg Lim Jock Seng, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade II, as saying 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 Tuesday (16 March).

Pehin Lim said there were certain press reports Wednesday 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 Wednesday (17 Mar) 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, the reports said.

The reports said that both sides 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.

In a separate report, the Borneo Bulletin said local media was not allowed into the press conference called by the Malaysian Prime Minister.

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

“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.”

It said 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.”

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

“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,” the report said. (MySinchew)

MySinchew 2009.03.19