MIRI, 19 March 2009: Brunei’s Second Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Datuk Seri Lim Jock Seng has denied that claims on Limbang were discussed during the meeting between Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah and Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.
Speaking at the Brunei legislative council meeting on 17 March, he said the discussion that led to the signing of the Letters of Exchange (LoE) in Bandar Seri Begawan on 16 March was on the demarcation of land boundaries on the whole.
“Certain press reports claimed that Brunei has dropped claims over Limbang. In fact, the claim on Limbang was never discussed,” he was reported as saying by Brunei’s local daily, Borneo Bulletin, on 18 March.
He said a joint press statement was issued after the meeting which mentioned that the demarcation of the land boundaries between the two countries would be resolved on the basis of five existing historical agreements between the government of Brunei and the state of Sarawak, and, as appropriate, on 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,” Lim added.
Abdullah, at a news conference with Malaysian journalists after the signing of the LoE on 16 March, said that Brunei had officially dropped its long-standing territorial claim over Limbang, Sarawak’s northern-most division.
He said the matter was part of the historic LoE inked between him and Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah at Istana Nurul Iman in Bandar Seri Begawan.
“It has been stated in the LoE that Brunei has dropped the issue and this means that Limbang is part of Malaysia,” he was quoted as saying.
Limbang is located on the banks of Sungai Limbang between the two halves of Brunei and covers an area of 3,978 sq km with a population of more than 40,000. It was annexed by James Brooke, the first Rajah of Sarawak, in 1890 as the fifth division of Sarawak. — Bernama