Sun, 10 Dec 2023



Sabah NGO files suit to challenge Territorial Sea Act
Published on: Friday, September 15, 2023
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Sabah NGO files suit to challenge Territorial Sea Act
The NGO says they decided to file the suit in the Kota Kinabalu High Court to end the dispute on the Territorial Sea Act 2012 as they support the Sabah government’s stance on the matter.
PETALING JAYA: A Sabah NGO has filed a suit to challenge the legality of a federal law limiting the state’s control of its waters.

The Sabah Action Body Advocating Rights (Sabar) said the suit filed at the Kota Kinabalu High Court was to dispute the validity of the Territorial Sea Act 2012 (TSA), which limits the state’s maritime boundary to only three nautical miles.

Sabar chairman Johan Arriffin Samad said under a colonial-era decree in 1954, Sabah’s waters extended up to its continental shelf.

According to a decree by the UK, it also included its seabed and subsoil which lies underneath the high seas, he said.

He also said that the Sabah government had rejected the TSA, with chief minister Hajiji Noor stating that the Act impeded the state’s ability to impose its own laws on matters beyond three nautical miles at sea.

“Sabar supports the Sabah government and has decided that it is prudent to take the legal route to end the dispute,” Johan said in a statement.

Hajiji had previously rejected the TSA at the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) Implementation Action Council earlier this year, demanding a restoration of its rights to its waters.

In the past, activists said that when Sabah merged with Malaya, Sarawak and Singapore to form Malaysia, its territories would be recognised under the Federal Constitution.

They also argued that under Sabah’s own land laws, land is also defined as sea that extends up to the continental shelf, of up to 200 nautical miles, and also allowed for oil exploration by the state.

Therefore, the activists said the federal law that limits Sabah’s powers to just three nautical miles from their shores was illegal, as land matters were exclusively under the powers of the state.

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