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Why Malaysia and Indonesia dispute over Ambalat?

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2009-06-10 05:29:49
2009-06-10 05:29:49

Ambalat is the sea block (not an island) of the Celebes Sea between Indonesian province of East Kalimantan and south-east of the Malaysian state of Sabah. This whole region is formerly known as Borneo. There are two coastal states separated in a distance of less then 300 nm each other that cause overlapping claim. Located at the heart of the Indo-Pacific basin Ambalat is near the centre of one of the richest marine habitats in the world called Sipadan. More than 3,000 species of fish and hundreds of coral species have been classified in this ecosystem. The absence of territorial sea boundary between Indonesia and Malaysia, consequently, leaves an uncertainty regarding the sovereignty over the territorial sea (water column). Meaning Indonesia still can claim Ambalat due to the fact Malaysia has agreed a seabed boundary but have not yet agreed a boundary for the water column. Ambalat also has huge oil and gas reserves which could be exploited up to 30 years.

In theory, Malaysia owns Ambalat (which is subject to a territorial dispute between Indonesia) with the publication of a map by Malaysia in 1979. The map shows that the area within its Malaysia territorial waters and continental shelf but Indonesia has profusely objected to the map since it has not deposited to the UN Secretary General.

This case is by no mean similar 2002's Sipadan-Ligitan Island where 16 out 17 judges from International Court of Justice (ICJ) awarded Sipadan-Ligitan from Indonesia to Malaysia on a basis of effective occupation. Malaysia has been actively established a permanent tourism service around the area and provide facilities for diving, swimming, and other aqua-tourism activities around Ambalat. In that case, the 'effective occupation' (Effectivités) is a relevant consideration to decide the sovereignty over it.

In defining their boundary, especially land boundary, both countries have to refer to the 1891 Convention agreed by The Great Britain and the Netherlands. Indonesia has yet finished none of the ten potential maritime boundaries with neighboring states i.e Australia, Malaysia, Philippine, Singapore, Palau, India, Thailand, Vietnam, Papua New Guinea and East Timor. With Sipadan- Ligitan a new Malaysia's territory and archipelagic base line it is worth noting that the ICJ's decision to grant Sipadan and Ligitan to Malaysia may change the configuration of Malaysia's baseline thus, could theoretically put Indonesia in a worse position to claim Ambalat. Gosong Niger is part of the seabed that is divided by the boundary line where two third of the seabed fall within the Indonesian side. With regard to this, the ownership of the sandbar is considerably clear. As there is a precise line, it should have been clear who own which seabed. However, Indonesia has never officially announced the exact locations of its maritime territorial limits. Consequently, the Malaysian navy had chased Indonesian fishermen out of Ambalat while Indonesia further accused Malaysia of 35 violations of disputed territory. Malaysia will not refer the dispute with Indonesia over Ambalat to the International Court of Justice in the Hague, Defence Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said in June 2009. Instead, he said the matter should be resolved through the existing brotherly diplomatic channels.

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In theory, Malaysia owns Ambalat (which is subject to a territorial dispute between Indonesia) with the publication of a map by Malaysia in 1979. The map shows that the area within its Malaysia territorial waters and continental shelf but Indonesia has profusely objected to the map. Ambalat is the sea block of the Celebes Sea beween Indonesian province of East Kalimantan and south-east of the Malaysian state of Sabah. This whole region is formerly known as Borneo. Located at the heart of the Indo-Pacific basin Ambalat is near the centre of one of the richest marine habitats in the world called Sipadan. More than 3,000 species of fish and hundreds of coral species have been classified in this ecosystem. The absence of territorial sea boundary between Indonesia and Malaysia, consequently, leaves an uncertainty regarding the sovereignty over the territorial sea (water column). Meaning Indonesia still can claim Ambalat due to the fact Malaysia has agreed a seabed boundary but have not yet agreed a boundary for the water column. Gosong Niger is part of the seabed that is divided by the boundary line where two third of the seabed fall within the Indonesian side. With regard to this, the ownership of the sandbar is considerably clear. As there is a precise line, it should have been clear who own which seabed. However, Indonesia has never officially announced the exact locations of its maritime territorial limits. Consequently, the Malaysian navy had chased Indonesian fishermen out of Ambalat while Indonesia further accused Malaysia of 35 violations of disputed territory. This case is by no mean similar 2002's Sipadan-Ligitan Island where 16 out 17 judges from International Court of Justice (ICJ) awarded Sipadan-Ligitan from Indonesia to Malaysia on a basis of effective occupation. Malaysia has been actively established a permanent tourism service around the area and provide facilities for diving, swimming, and other aqua-tourism activities around Ambalat. In that case, the 'effective occupation' (Effectivités) is a relevant consideration to decide the sovereignty over it. Sipadan- Ligitan a new Malaysia's territory and archipelagic basepoints and this could theoretically put Indonesia in a worse position to claim Ambalat. Malaysia will not refer the dispute with Indonesia over Ambalat to the International Court of Justice in the Hague, Defence Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said in June 2009. Instead, he said the matter should be resolved through the existing brotherly diplomatic channels.

This case is by no mean similar 2002's Sipadan-Ligitan Island where 16 out 17 judges from International Court of Justice (ICJ) awarded Sipadan-Ligitan from Indonesia to Malaysia on a basis of 'effective occupation' (see paragraph 6).In theory, Malaysia 'owns' Ambalat (which is subject to a territorial dispute between Indonesia) with the publication of a map by Malaysia in 1979. The map shows that the area within its Malaysia territorial waters and continental shelf but Indonesia has profusely objected to the map. However, the map used to claim Ambalat by Malaysia has not yet deposited to the UN Secretary General.Ambalat is the sea block of the Celebes Sea beween Indonesian province of East Kalimantan and south-east of the Malaysian state of Sabah. This whole region is formerly known as Borneo. Located at the heart of the Indo-Pacific basin Ambalat is located in the same maritime zone (overlapping claim) near the centre of one of the richest marine habitats in the world called Sipadan. More than 3,000 species of fish and hundreds of coral species have been classified in this ecosystem.The absence of territorial sea boundary between Indonesia and Malaysia, consequently, leaves an uncertainty regarding the sovereignty over the territorial sea (water column). Meaning Indonesia still can claim Ambalat due to the fact Malaysia has agreed a seabed boundary but have not yet agreed a boundary for the water column. Since the independence era, Malaysia has been the successor of Britain and Indonesia has been continuing the Netherlands' regime.In defining their boundary, especially land boundary, both countries have to refer to the 1891 Convention agreed by The Great Britain and the Netherlands. Indonesia has yet finished none of the ten potential maritime boundaries with neighboring states/ the neighboring states are Australia, Malaysia, Philippine, Singapore, Palau, India, Thailand, Vietnam, Papua New Guinea, and East Timor. Gosong Niger is part of the seabed that is divided by the boundary line where two third of the seabed fall within the Indonesian side. With regard to this, the ownership of the sandbar is considerably clear. As there is a precise line, it should have been clear who own which seabed. However, Indonesia has never officially announced the exact locations of its maritime territorial limits. Consequently, the Malaysian navy had chased Indonesian fishermen out of Ambalat while Indonesia further accused Malaysia of 35 violations of disputed territory.Malaysia has been actively established a permanent tourism service around the area and provide facilities for diving, swimming, and other aqua-tourism . Ambalat, the 15235-sq-km is also rich in oil and gas reserves which could be exploited for 30 years. In that case, the 'effective occupation' above (Effectivités) is a relevant consideration to decide the sovereignty over it. Sipadan- Ligitan a new Malaysia's territory and new Archipelagic (containing a large number of scattered islands) baseline and this could theoretically put Indonesia in a worse position to claim Ambalat. Moreover, it is worth noting that the ICJ's decision to grant Sipadan and Ligitan to Malaysia may change the configuration of Malaysia's baselines.Malaysia will not refer the dispute with Indonesia over Ambalat to the International Court of Justice in the Hague, Defence Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said in early June 2009. Instead, he said the matter should be resolved through the existing brotherly diplomatic channels between Indonesia. Since such case is very sensitive, with regards to Ambalat case, people from both countries have to really understand the problem in terms of georgraphy, history and law.

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