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By Nigel Edgar
KUCHING, March 16: The status of Sarawak as a `negeri’ or state will be changed to `wilayah’ or territory after the Federal Constitution is amended.
Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg explained that the change is not immediate as many people had perceived on social media.
“When an amendment to the constitution is done, then it is consequential. After the amendment, consequential lah. We will not be a state anymore. (It will be) territory after the amendment,” he told reporters after officiating at the SCaT Fair 2019 here.
He was responding to an article in an online news portal that has gone viral. The article alleged that Abang Johari had, on March 12, right after the Special Cabinet Committee Meeting to review the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63), stated that Sarawak would be called a `negeri’ or state with immediate effect.
The article also stated that the directive would be implemented in the government’s official documents and letters with immediate effect, too.
On another issue, Abang Johari said he would leave the sea border dispute issues between Indonesia and Sarawak to the federal government and the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA).
He said this being an international matter, it should be discussed between the federal governments of both countries.
This follows the detention of a Sarawakian vessel — with 3 crew members and 11 anglers — some 52 nautical miles from Tanjung Datu. They were detained by the Indonesian Navy on March 12 for allegedly trespassing into the Indonesian Exclusive Economic Zone.
Yesterday, MMEA denied the Sarawakian vessel trespassed into Indonesian waters, arguing that the Sarawakian boat was within Malaysian waters and the border was internationally recognised.
All 14 men returned home safely yesterday afternoon. — DayakDaily