BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN, 16 March 2009: Brunei has officially dropped its long-standing territorial claim over Limbang, a northern division in Sarawak, marking a new era in the bilateral relations between both countries, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said.
The prime minister said the matter was part of the historic Letters of Exchange (LoE) inked between him and Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei, which formalised the solution to the long-standing Malaysia-Brunei boundary issues, at the Istana Nurul Iman here today.
“It has been stated in the LoE that Brunei has dropped the issue and this means that Limbang is part of Malaysia,” he told a news conference with Malaysian journalists before heading home at the end of his two-day visit to the sultanate.
Limbang, located on the banks of Sungai Limbang between the two halves of Brunei and covers an area of 3,978 sq km with population of more than 40,000, was annexed by James Brooke, the first Rajah of Sarawak, in 1890 to become the fifth division of Sarawak.
Abdullah, in thanking the Sultan of Brunei and his government for the positive action in making the solution a reality, said that border issues would now cease to haunt the relations between both countries.
“With the issue solved, Brunei and Malaysia can now enter a new era of bilateral relations and cooperation in various fields and there is no more unhappiness over the issue,” he said.
A joint statement issued by both leaders stated that among the key points in the LoE was the modalities for the final demarcation of land boundaries between Brunei and Malaysia.
It also stated that the demarcation would be resolved on the basis of five existing historical agreements between the Brunei government and Sarawak government, and as appropriate, the watershed principle.
“Hereafter, all issues pertaining to land boundaries of the two states shall be accordingly resolved,” it said.
The statement said among the key elements in the LoE was the “unsuspendable rights of maritime access” for Malaysian nationals and residents across Brunei’s maritime zones en route to and from their destinations in Sarawak, provided Brunei’s laws and regulations were observed.
“The solution of the maritime delimitation issue ensures certainty with regard to the delimitation of the territorial seas, the continental shelf and the exclusive economic zones (EEZ) of both countries.
“The two countries would be able to enforce their rules and regulations and embark on new developments in their respective maritime zones,” it said.
The two-page statement also stated that the LoE, which marked a historic and momentous occasion for Brunei and Malaysia, reflected the two countries’ ability to reach a comprehensive, fair and equitable package solution in the larger interest of both countries.
It also said that both leaders believed that the signing of the letters would pave the way for the development of strategic partnership and closer collaboration in all fields, especially trade and investment.
Other areas are in energy and hydrocarbon resources, tourism, education, agriculture, infrastructure, banking, halal industry and people-to-people contacts with special focus on the Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak, it said.
They also instructed officials and representatives to follow up and monitor the full implementation of provisions in the letters, which marked the successful conclusion of negotiations, with historical, legal and other relevant criteria acceptable to both sides. — Bernama
See also: M’sia-Brunei boundary issues formalised