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Continental Shelf boundaries: Taking matter to court
Published on: Saturday, September 16, 2023
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Continental Shelf boundaries: Taking matter to court
Johan (left) also said the Sabah Government had rejected the TSA, with Hajiji (left) stating that the Act impeded the State’s ability to impose its own laws on matters beyond three nautical miles at sea.
Kota Kinabalu: Sabah Action Body Advocating Rights (Sabar) has filed an originating summons in the High Court in respect of several State and Federal laws relating to the Continental Shelf boundaries.

Its Chairman Datuk Dr Johan Arriffin Samad 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.

He 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 the Sabah Government had rejected the TSA, with Chief Minister Datuk Seri 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.

Meanwhile, the hearing of the Federal Attorney General’s appeal against the High Court’s decision granting permission to the Sabah Law Society (SLS) to proceed with judicial review against the Federal Government and the Sabah State Government fixed for Sept 14, 2023 in the Court of Appeal has been adjourned by the Court. 

SLS President Roger Chin said the Court of Appeal has now given a new hearing date on May 16, 2024. When SLS was notified that the prior hearing date of Sept 14 would be vacated, he said it had objected to the adjournment. 

“SLS had then put in a Certificate of Urgency before the Court to show that the case of considerable public interest should be heard on Sept 14 (Thursday) or, if that was not possible, on an early date. 

“The Court responded to the SLS’s Certificate by informing that Nov 7 to 10, 2023 are possible hearing dates.

However, the Federal Attorney General informed the Court that the Federal Counsel conducting the case were not available on those dates. 

“As the Court’s only available date for a physical hearing (where the public can attend in person) was on May 16, next year, this was the new hearing date,” Roger said, Friday.

He said SLS will continue to pursue the judicial review and will keep the public informed of any new developments.

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