London mission finds document to support Continental Shelf Act 1966 illegal

Assistant Minister of Law, State-Federal Relations and Project Monitoring Sharifah Hasidah Sayeed Aman Ghazali

KUCHING: The Sarawak London mission found documents “confirming Sarawak’s ownership rights to the seabeds and subsoil natural resources in in the continental shelf within the boundaries of the state” as stated within the Malaysia Agreement 1963.

This finding would effectively make the controversial Continental Shelf Act 1966 illegal, null and void.

Assistant Minister of Law, State-Federal Relations and Project Monitoring Hajah Sharifah Hasidah Sayeed Aman Ghazali, who heads the research mission, said after briefing Chief Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg this afternoon that the documents they found stated the reasons and objectives of the making of the Sarawak (Alteration of Boundaries) Order 1954 by the Queen in Council, for the determination of the boundaries of Sarawak’s land, sea, and continental shelf limits prior to Malaysia Day.

“The research mission to London by the team led by me, has been very productive.

“The team members’ knowledge and understanding of the historical facts relevant to the constitutional issues encompassed in the ongoing devolution of power process, has been enhanced through research and study of the documents which originated from Sarawak before Malaysia Day but classified by the Colonial Administration as secret or confidential,” she said.

Hasidah said these documents, which are termed the “migrated archives”, recently declassified by United Kingdom government and stored in the British National Archives, are those relating to the formation of Malaysia.

They include the minutes of meetings of the Inter-governmental Committee (IGC) leading to the publication of the IGC Report

The documents found were also related to the British government Cabinet Papers relating to the Cobbold Commission’s report and its views on the granting Sarawak Independent on the formation of the new Federation of Malaysia.

“Copies of these documents have been obtained by the team from the British National Archives and from the Commonwealth Library and Archive at Marlborough House in London.

“The government is studying these documents to ascertain the basis for the recommendations contained in the IGC Report of the constitutional safeguards for Sarawak and what further action need to be taken in order to have them fully implemented under Article VIII of the Malaysia Agreement if they had not been already incorporated in the Federal Constitution or by executive, legislative or other action since Malaysia Day.”

Hasidah said the documents found will add strength to state’s position in the discussions with the federal government on devolution of power, and towards resolution of various constitutional matters under deliberation in these discussions.

She also said the state government would endeavour to obtain from the British National Archives, documents in the previously classified files migrated from Sarawak to custody of the United Kingdom government’s control, before Malaysia Day.

This is for the state to have possession of these important documents, particularly those in relation to the grant of oil mining concessions, revenue and financial matters, control of shipping and marine fisheries in Sarawak waters, administration of education, labour and public health.

“These documents, generated during the Colonial Administration will provide a better understanding on how these subject-matters were handled by before independence.” –