KENINGAU: The Federal government must demonstrate that it respects Sabah as a partner in the formation of Malaysia by taking stronger action in defending the region’s maritime sovereignty.
Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Dr Jeffrey Kitingan said this is in line with the spirit of the Malaysia Agreement 1963.
“The federal government has to take a sterner action against any external threat to ensure that the maritime sovereignty of the nation, particularly Sabah’s, is defended.
“Sabah is directly exposed to the ongoing conflict arising from the numerous overlapping sovereign claims to islands, reefs and rocks in the South China Sea,” he said in a statement here today.
Kitingan who is also the Parti Solidariti Tanah Airku (STAR) President said he has been following closely the development on the conflicting claims in the South China Sea from time to time.
“I found that the threat to Sabah’s maritime sovereignty has been worrying of late in view of it being in the frontline of the overlapping claims issue.
“This calls for a more serious intervention from the federal government through the Ministry of Defence and the relevant agencies,” he said.
Encroachments involving China’s military assets in the South China Sea are nothing new.
Throughout 2021, the Royal Malaysian Navy had reported 23 cases in the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EZZ). These incidences apparently started in 2013.
Kitingan also highlighted that the threat to the country’s maritime sovereignty has affected the economy.
Since last year, China’s Maritime Enforcement Agency has been reported to have encroached Kawasari, a gas field off the coast of Sarawak, and affected works involving the development of the country’s new oil and gas operations by Petronas.
The continuous intimidation by 300 China’s maritime vessels patrolling in the South China Sea has also affected fishing activities of small fishermen in Sabah.