PH kept silent when Territorial Sea Act 2012 was passed, claims STAR

State Reform Party (STAR) Sarawak president Lina Soo

KUCHING, Dec 24: State Reform Party Sarawak (STAR) believes that Pakatan Harapan Sarawak (PH Sarawak) should either shape up or ship out in view of the scenario where they remained silent when the Territorial Sea Act 2012 was passed in Parliament five years ago.

Its president Lina Soo also wondered why PH Sarawak only brought up the issue five years later.

She said to her knowledge, none of the Pakatan Harapan MPs objected to the enactment of the act which was gazetted on June 22, 2012.

Soo thus challenged state DAP chairman Chong Chieng Jen who is also Bandar Kuching MP, to produce the Hansard record which could prove that the opposition coalition had indeed objected to the Act when it was tabled.

She explained the Territorial Sea Act had limited Sarawak’s control over the Continental Shelf to only three nautical miles instead of 200 nautical miles of Exclusive Economic Zone admissible by international law.

“Ownership of territorial seas and waters means the rights to take control of our marine wealth and to exercise the power to grant licences for prospecting, exploration, granting of oil mining leases, and to issue deep sea fishing licences.”

Soo was responding to the recent statement made by Dr Kelvin Yii, special assistant to Chong, who questioned why the Barisan National (BN) government had allowed the federal encroachment into Sarawak’s seas through its MPs who supported the passing of the Territorial Sea Act 2012.

“In our Sarawak Land Code [Cap 81] passed in Sarawak State Assembly in 1958, it was gazetted that ‘State Land’ includes the foreshore and beds of the sea within the boundaries of Sarawak as provided for by the Sarawak (Alteration of Boundaries) Order in Council 1954,” she said.

Soo said though the Federal Constitution, Article 2 (b) empowers Parliament to alter the boundaries of any State, a law altering the boundaries of a State shall not be passed without the consent of that State (expressed by a law made by the Legislature of that State) and of the Conference of Rulers.

Since laws passed by Parliament on territorial rights have no constitutional or legal effect without the consent of the Sarawak State Legislative Assembly, she wanted the state government to clarify if they had passed a law in the state assembly to alter the territorial boundary of Sarawak’s Continental Shelf.

“If that legislative step has not been taken, then our Sarawak government must demand that Territorial Sea Act 3 (3) be replaced, that the Act shall not apply to Sarawak and Sabah,” she said.

She questioned why all elected opposition MPs, who are expected to be the watchdogs over the excesses and improprieties of the ruling government remained silent when it came to the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Sarawak and Sabah.

“Shape up or ship out if you are not vigilant in defending the rights of Sarawak and Sabah within the Malaysia Agreement and the Federal Constitution.” said Soo, referring to PH Sarawak leaders. — DayakDaily