PN senator: Protect Sarawak, Sabah’s maritime economy and sovereignty from aggressive foreign encroachment

Senator Jaziri Alkaf Abdillah Suffian

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KUCHING, June 1: Sarawak National Alliance (PN) chairman Senator Jaziri Alkaf Abdillah Suffian is concerned about China’s aggressive border encroachment in the South China Sea and wants Malaysia to take a firmer stance on protecting Sarawak and Sabah’s economies and sovereignty.

In a statement, Jaziri said the presence of Chinese patrol boats near Sabah’s maritime space is extremely stressful and has a negative impact on Sabah’s maritime economy.

“Even more concerning is the fact that China’s “invisible” fighter plane, the J-20, has been observed to be increasingly active in South China Sea airspace.

“According to a report from the Royal Malaysian Navy (TLDM), there were 23 sea border encroachments by China in 2021 alone into the Malaysian Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ),” he said.

He went on to say that the invasion not only poses a significant challenge to the country’s sovereignty, but also impacted the livelihoods of the people of Sarawak and Sabah, particularly fishermen.

“The presence of Chinese patrol boats using military training grounds disrupts fishing activities.

“This disrupts the fishing industry and has the potential to cripple the economy.

“The fishing industry is currently estimated at RM1.2 billion, with approximately 30,000 fishermen involved,” he added.

Jaziri noted this concerned the livelihoods of fishermen, and that if not protected, negative effects will be seen in the issue of food supply involving seafood.

“Sarawak fishermen in the Miri area are also subjected to bullying while carrying out their activities.

“Even more disappointing is that illegal fishermen from China are taking the opportunity to carry out fishing activities around the disputed Spratly Islands.

“This, of course, upsets local fishermen who have lost their livelihood,” he stated.

Jaziri asserted that this will weaken efforts to continue assisting and developing Sarawak’s fishing economy.

“The federal government’s initiative has given the Sarawak Fisheries Department (Jabatan Perikanan Malaysia) autonomy to issue deep-sea fishing licences that can generate a tuna fishing economy (sic) in the ocean area, but the initiative will not be fully successful as long as the issue of aggression is not resolved.

“Local fishermen are ‘traumatised’ because they do not go out to sea to make a living, and as a result, foreign fishermen have taken advantage of this opportunity by catching fish extensively in Malaysia, causing the country to lose RM4 billion in fishery revenue each year.

“This is a side effect of the country’s (China) maritime aggression,” he said.

In the meantime, Jaziri noted that, aside from fisheries, energy and oil exploration efforts are also hampered, particularly in the Kasawari area of Sarawak, where Malaysian oil explorers face numerous challenges.

“I would like to urge the Malaysian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Wisma Putra) and the Malaysian Minister of Defence, as well as the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department via the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (APMM), to continue working with all national forces to resolve the aforementioned issues.

“I believe that the government’s efforts to focus on the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean)’s strengths as the primary defence of the South China Sea should be supported and welcomed by all parties,” he pointed out.

He added remarked that the Prime Minister has so far succeeded in drawing the United States of America’s attention to a free and neutral South China Sea. — DayakDaily