Finally, PM ‘Flip-Flop’ Dato’ Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi did something productive in his near disgrace five-and-a-half years of administration, deemed the most regressive in Malaysian 52 years of history as a nation with sovereign status. Most probably in his experience being the Foreign Minister for eight years during Fourth Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad’s illustrious administration, PM ‘Flip-Flop’ Abdullah managed to sort out a long standing diplomatic standoff with the Kingdom of Brunei, once and for all.
NST has the story:
Limbang officially part of Malaysia
Joniston Bangkuai reporting from Bandar Seri Begawan
BRUNEI has dropped its long-standing territorial claim on Limbang, Sarawak, that over the years had become a “thorn” to the otherwise close relations between the oil-rich sultanate and Malaysia.
This was among the key elements contained in an Exchange of Letters signed by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and Brunei’s Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah at Istana Nurul Iman yesterday.
The Exchange of Letters marked the successful conclusion of years of negotiations on outstanding bilateral issues.
“In the agreement (contained in the Exchange of Letters), issues related to Limbang have been resolved. Brunei has dropped the issue, which means Limbang is now part of Malaysia,” Abdullah said.
Abdullah’s meeting with Sultan Hassanal was a continuation of the annual consultation between the leaders of the two countries.
Accompanying Abdullah were his wife Datin Seri Jeanne Abdullah, Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim, Education Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein, Sarawak Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud, Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman and Wisma Putra officials.
Speaking to Malaysian journalists before leaving for Kuala Lumpur after a two-day visit, Abdullah thanked the sultan and the government of Brunei for their cooperation in resolving the Limbang issue.
“The problem (Brunei’s claim on Limbang) will no longer haunt the two countries, which can now enter into a new era of bilateral relations and cooperation in various fields.”
He said the resolution to the land and maritime boundary dispute had erased any suspicion or ill-feelings between the two countries.
A delighted Taib said Brunei and Sarawak could now look forward to closer ties and cooperation.
He said Brunei could benefit from the proposed dam at Sungai Limbang for power generation, water supply and activities related to food security.
“The proposed dam can be considered as a way of strengthening the ties between both countries.”
A joint statement by the two leaders said they 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 were energy and hydrocarbon resources, tourism, education, agriculture, infrastructure, banking, halal industry and people-to-people contacts with special focus on Sabah and Sarawak, it said.
SOME KEY POINTS IN EXCHANGE OF LETTERS
• Modalities for final demarcation of land boundaries between Brunei and Malaysia
• Demarcation to be resolved on the basis of five existing historical agreements between the Brunei government and Sarawak government, and as appropriate, the watershed principle
• “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 are observed
• Maritime delimitation, delimitation of territorial seas, continental shelf and the exclusive economic zones
• Setting up of Commercial Arrangement Area in oil and gas exploration
This is by far the only achievement PM ‘Flip-Flop’ Abdullah had in controversies and scandals plagued premiership. These include ‘diplomatic flops’, something Wisma Putra had never been known for in the first 48 years of independent Malaysia. Infact, Malaysia has managed to remain above water during the most trying times of the cold war in the region, the Indochina conflict for over thirty years and the confrontation with Indonesia after the formation of Malaysia for three years, all due the ability of international diplomacy.
At the November 2005 ASEAN Summit in KLCC Convention Centre where Malaysia was the host, Kuala Lumpur led the ‘charge’ against Myanmar to pressure into the ‘democratization’, a looming diplomatic issue flavoured and coveniently tailored to the Western’s appetite on the ‘Neo Con re-colonisation agenda’. This was something that defied ASEAN’s principle of non interference into a neighbour’s domestic politics, where Malaysia was an architect of this principle as a founding member.
In March 2006, he abruptly and unilaterally canceled the ‘Scenic Bridge’ to replace half of the Johor Causeway, which saw many Malaysians, espcecially Johorean Malays explicit show their deep dissatisfaction on the the decision which was deemed ‘favourable’ to the Singaporean interests. Despite previous PM Tun Dr. Mahathir’s ability to have the Singaporean’s ‘non opposition’ to the project which was deemed very strategic to the Malaysian interests, the last mile ‘negotiations’ brought up issues non relevant to the project, like the sale of sand and Singaporean Air Force use of Johorean airspace.
When Lebanon was attacked ruthlessly by the Israelis in July 2006 which saw the lower half of the biblical nation almost completely obliterated, Malaysia as then the OIC Chairman was late to react. This was something unbecoming of Malaysia, as the champion of the underdogs, especially with issues involving Muslims at international diplomatic level. Notable stance Malaysia had that changed the scene was the Serbian invasion into Bosnia Herzegovina, genocide in Serbia and Kosovo conflict, all through the nineties. Then again, Malaysia is one of the most vocal voice on the Palestinian issue.
Then, middle of last year, Malaysia lost the ‘Pulau Batu Puteh’ to Singapore in a dispute heard in The Hague’s International Court of Justice, due to poor preparation and representation.
This late minute success is something worthy to remember PM ‘Flip-Flop’ Abdullah by.