Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim and Indonesian President Joko Widodo signed a number of treaties during the latter's working visit to Malaysia, including on the delimitation of territorial seas in the Sulawesi Sea and the Straits of Melaka, amid reservations from maritime experts over proposals to settle the disputes.
The Straits of Melaka treaty and Sulawesi Sea treaty were among six instruments signed on June 8, the two leaders said in a joint statement today.
They said both sides had reached "a significant milestone" with the signing of these treaties, although giving no specific details of the type of settlement reached.
The two sides also expressed their commitment to expediting their internal processes towards realising "the simultaneous entry into force" of the treaties in question.
"Both leaders are determined to resolve the land boundary issues on OBP Pulau Sebatik, OBP Sungai Sinapad-Sesai and new West Pillar on Pulau Sebatik to AA2 Pillar, as well as issues relating to the intertidal area in the east of Pulau Sebatik and the gap from the low water line to Point M by June 2024," they said.
MalaysiaNow reported yesterday that maritime experts involved in efforts to protect Malaysia's territorial rights had warned Putrajaya against signing any new agreements to settle the long-running border dispute with neighbouring Indonesia.
They said Malaysia could not afford to compromise on its claims involving disputed areas with Jakarta in the Sulawesi Sea and in the southernmost part of the Straits of Melaka.
They also warned Putrajaya that any change from the policy of previous governments with regard to the two areas must involve the participation of the governments of Johor and Sabah, whose maritime interests would be affected the most in the event of an agreement to settle the dispute.
In their statement today, the leaders said the signing of the treaties symbolised the "harmonious relationship and camaraderie between both countries" and provided a solid foundation for future maritime boundary negotiations between the two.
"The two leaders also agreed to task their maritime boundary negotiation teams to commence as soon as possible negotiations on all the remaining and outstanding maritime boundaries between both countries simultaneously," the statement added.
Voicing satisfaction with "the solid and significant outcome" of Widodo's visit, they said the "milestone" would keep the positive momentum going for both sides to address other outstanding bilateral issues ahead of the 13th Leader’s Annual Consultation to be hosted by Indonesia.