Asia - Pacific

Malaysia rejects Philippines' fresh maritime border claim

Kuala Lumpur says it will fight any claim on its territories

Amir Latif Arain  | 07.07.2024 - Update : 08.07.2024
Malaysia rejects Philippines' fresh maritime border claim


Malaysia on Sunday rejected Philippines' fresh maritime border claim, saying it will fight any claim on its territories.

"Malaysia is an independent sovereign nation that will fight any claim on our territories," Foreign Minister Mohamad Hasan said in response to a diplomatic note filed by the Philippines with the UN, local English daily Star reported.

It comes after Manila recently told the UN that it was extending its continental shelf but laid claims on the Sabah state of Malaysia.

Malaysia submitted a diplomatic note to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres late last month, rejecting a filing from the Philippines to the UN.

Manila had registered its entitlement to an extended continental shelf in the Western Palawan region of the South China Sea, "defining the seabed areas over which it has sovereign and exclusive rights to exploit for natural resources."

“In its note, the Philippines claims that its maritime border runs through Sabah. If this is used as a yardstick, then it’s claiming that Sabah belongs to the Philippines,” Mohamad said.

Mohamad, also known as Tok Mat, added that Sabah and Sarawak formally became part of Malaysia decades ago, which was recognized by the UN.

“We are an independent and sovereign nation, and no one can just come and stake a claim on any of our territories,” he said.

The controversy over the ownership of Sabah, located on the northern tip of Borneo, stems from colonial-era agreements.

Malaysia incorporated Sabah in 1963, propelling Manila to lodge a formal claim, arguing that Sabah "rightfully" belonged to Philippines.

Kuala Lumpur, however, maintains that the territory was legitimately ceded to it by the British.

The dispute has persisted, periodically flaring up due to diplomatic notes, legal actions, and even armed incursions.

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