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Malaysia: Philippines claim over Sabah has no basis

Janvic Mateo - The Philippine Star
Malaysia: Philippines claim over Sabah has no basis
Malaysia, responding to a note verbale sent by the Philippines to the UN in March, said it has never recognized Manila’s claim to the state of Sabah, formerly known as North Borneo.
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MANILA, Philippines — The Malaysian government has maintained that the Philippine claim over Sabah has no basis in international law.

In a note verbale sent to the United Nations on Aug. 27, Malaysia noted a 2001 judgment of the International Court of Justice stating that “modern international law does not recognize the survival of a right to sovereignty based solely on historic title.”

Malaysia, responding to a note verbale sent by the Philippines to the UN in March, said it has never recognized Manila’s claim to the state of Sabah, formerly known as North Borneo.

It also rejected the Philippine claim to the Kalayaan Group of Islands in the West Philippine Sea, describing it as “excessive maritime claims” that supposedly have not conformed with the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

“As regards the Philippines’ assertion that the area overlaps with its future submission, the Government of Malaysia considers it as being premature in nature and emphasized that the submission is without prejudice to the positions of the states which are parties to a land or maritime dispute in accordance with the permanent provisions of UNCLOS,” it added.

Last December, Malaysia sent a partial submission to the Commission on the Limits of Continental Shelf claiming portions of the South China Sea as its continental shelf.

Manila responded with a note verbale saying the Malaysian submission “covers features within the Kalayaan Island Group over which the Republic of the Philippines has sovereignty.”

“The area also overlaps with the continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles from the baselines from which the breadth of the territorial sea of the Republic of the Philippines is measured, and over which the Government of the Republic of the Philippines intends to make a submission at a future time,” read the Philippines’ note verbale dated March 6.

“Moreover, the Malaysian submission is projected from portions of North Borneo over which the Republic of the Philippines has never relinquished its sovereignty,” it added.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has yet to respond to the latest note verbale sent by Malaysia.

Last month, Malaysia summoned the Philippine ambassador in Kuala Lumpur after Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. tweeted that Sabah is not in Malaysia.

“Sabah is not in Malaysia if you want to have anything to do with the Philippines,” he wrote in response to a tweet of the United States embassy regarding support provided for returning Filipino repatriates from Sabah, which it referred to as being part of Malaysia.

Malaysian Foreign Affairs Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said Locsin’s tweet was “an irresponsible statement that affects bilateral ties.”

Locsin responded by summoning the Malaysian envoy in the Philippines.

“No country can tell another what it can and cannot say about what the latter regards as rightfully its own,” he tweeted.

“I don’t insist China say only what we want to hear about the arbitral award. It is free to say what it wants while we say and do what needs doing. That holds for Sabah,” he added.

SABAH
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