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Govt Must Explain James Shoal Incursion–Dr. Jeffrey

Kota Kinabalu:    “The federal Government and the Defence Ministry must be prepared for all consequences for their failures to treat lightly the intrusion by the Chinese navy into the James Shoal, 80 km. from Sarawak’s coastline” said Datuk Dr. Jeffrey Kitingan, STAR Sabah Chief referring to the recent incident where China’s naval warships carried out an exercise there and its subsequent denial by the navy chief.

The federal government should explain the incursion incident to all Malaysians and take the appropriate action to secure the security and sovereignty of Sarawak territorial waters and 200 nautical miles Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

The China naval incursion and potential claim over the James Shoal and the Spratlay Islands have serious dire consequences for Malaysia and Sarawak.

At stake is Sarawak’s security and sovereignty as well as the EEZ and exclusive rights that goes along with it, fishing and tapping of marine resources, seabed mineral exploration including oil and gas exploration and other economic exploitation.    It also has to be remembered that the boundaries of Sabah and Sarawak as declared by the Queen in Council in 1954 extends to the continental shelf which is in most parts beyond the EEZ.

With its French-built submarines, the least the Malaysian government and the Navy could have done was to position the submarines near James Shoal as a show of its naval power.    Its failure will show that Malaysian naval capabilities are weak.   It will also reinforce the perception that the submarines were defective, could not dive or purchased as a museum piece to line the pockets of cronies with ill-gotten gains amounting to hundreds of million.

More importantly, the federal government must show its commitment to protect the territorial waters of Sabah and Sarawak and provide the security that were promised to the Borneo States during the formation of Malaysia in 1963.The promises of the then Malayan leaders to provide security for the Borneo States was one of the fundamental basis to persuade and induce Sabah and Sarawak to form Malaysia in 1963.

If the Malaysian navy cannot even react when the Chinese naval ships are 80 km. from Sarawak’s coastline, it will be too late if a serious incursion were to take place.    Like in Pearl Harbour in World War 2, foreign ships could have entered the shores of Sarawak, done damage and landed at beaches in Sarawak.

Will the federal government need another Kg. Tanduo intrusion to happen in Sarawak before it takes the necessary action to safeguard the security and sovereignty of Sarawak?

Acting feebly and lying saying that the Chinese naval exercise took place 1,000 nautical miles away and that no such incursion took place when it was widely reported internationally is to deflect criticism.  It will not portray the Najib administration as being capable of defending Malaysia from external threats.

If any foreign power is allowed to claim ownership of James Shoal, which is 80km. from Sarawak's shores, Sarawak’s territorial boundary may be reduced to its shorelines and coastal waters.   Sarawak will then be reduced to a smaller territory and probably lose all its existing oil-wells and oil-rigs and its oil and gas resources.  If the Malaysian government cannot protect Sarawak and to provide the necessary security, there is no reason for Sarawak to continue to be in Malaysia as the basis for the  1963 agreement to form Malaysia has failed.

The federal government need to face the truth and explain theJames Shoal incursion and show its commitment that it is able to defend Sabah and Sarawak’s security and sovereignty.   If it does not, there will be another failure in the basis of the formation of Malaysia.

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