Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar

KUCHING: It is the federal government’s absolute responsibility to safeguard Malaysia’s waters, even in Sarawak.

This is notwithstanding the state’s assertion of rights over waters and subsoil of Sarawak Continental Shelf of Sarawak waters, said Santubong MP Dato Sri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar today.

He pointed out that the state was not empowered under the Constitution nor under any written law to enforce the law against intrusion by foreign ship, plane or vessel at sea, land or air.

The state is not entitled nor empowered to carry arms for that purpose, he added.

“The powers are with the federal government through its armed and enforcement agencies like the army, the navy, the maritime and the police.”

“It is a serious dereliction of duties on the part of the federal government and its relevant agencies like the navy, the army, the maritime and the police to allow or to ignore the trespassing and illegal intrusion by foreign ship or vessel into Malaysia’s waters,” said Wan Junaidi, who is a trained lawyer and former federal minister when he was in the previous Barisan Nasional government.

“Sarawak have been the continuous victim, and Sarawak waters have been the playground for foreign fishermen vessels to steal and to rob the local fishermen of their much needed marine resources,” he said, adding there was no excuse for these armed and legally empowered enforcement agencies to not carry out their duties and fulfil their obligation.

“I call upon the Minister of Defence and Minister of Home Affairs to perform their duties. Do not make Sarawak waters the last place to conduct any enforcement operations,” he stressed.

“Remember that Sarawak waters are not only rich with marine life for local fishermen, but also rich with oil and gas that enrich the federal coffers,” he added.

Wan Junaidi was reacting to pleas by local fishermen in Sibu, Miri and Bintulu for the government to stamp out cases of encroachment by illegal foreign fishing vessels into Malaysian territorial waters.