“No room for popularity when it comes to national sovereignty”

ISSUES pertaining to the nation’s sovereignty are always highly sensitive and have always been close to every Malaysian’s heart. 

No matter the ups and downs, every one of us here regardless of race, colour or creed, loves our nation and would never compromise on her sovereignty.

As a former civil servant, I have been closely following the recent developments pertaining to the treaties Malaysia signed with its neighbour, Indonesia on the delimitation of territorial seas.

From my understanding and what I learned after over 30 years in the Department of Survey and Mapping Malaysia (JUPEM), issues such as this require a great deal of detailed study and numerous rounds of negotiations even before the slightest bit of agreement can be reached between the parties concerned. 

There are numerous disputes involving the delimitation of territorial seas in Malaysia, which is no surprise considering both the Peninsular and East Malaysia are surrounded by seas.

I am well aware that the treaties recently signed between Malaysia and Indonesia involve the Sulawesi Sea and the southernmost part of the Straits of Malacca.

In fact, these disputes have been around for over 20 years and over the tenure of the previous administrations, no agreement was even close to being achieved. These are very delicate matters and even in other nations, such things could take up to 50 years to resolve.

For a layman, giving half a centimetre of land to his neighbour may not be a big deal but this is a totally different issue when it concerns national sovereignty. That is why it comes as a surprise to me how Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim managed to come to an agreement after just a few months in power.

In other words, he is either fantastic to be able to resolve an issue that spanned over 20 years in just eight months or has simply been absolutely reckless about it.

Our forefathers fought long and hard for every single inch of the nation’s sovereignty, over both land and water and we must at all times treasure and appreciate this. It is worrying how Anwar could be so quick to reach a decision over such a long-standing matter.

Did he do it to gain praise from our neighbours or as mentioned earlier, was it recklessly done?

In April, I also recall another issue that involved national sovereignty involving the presence of Chinese naval ships in Malaysian waters. There is no doubt that China is our economic partner in numerous trades but our national sovereignty cannot be compromised.

Is our prime minister trying to gain popularity among other countries and, in return jeopardise our national sovereignty?

The prime minister really needs to be more cautious when dealing with such delicate matters and should never make any kind of populist statement.

It is pointless for a leader to be internationally liked and popular when you can’t even get your act together at home. – June 15, 2023


Ibrahim Sidek Zaharuddin Shah
Kuala Lumpur 

The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.

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