Sat, 12 Mar 2005

Diplomacy persists

The article written by Graham Gerard Ong titled Diplomacy can calm troubled sea (March 9) contains misleading arguments that require clarification. The deployment of an Indonesian naval fleet to Ambalat should not be considered as flexing its muscles aimed at resorting to the use of force in resolving conflicting claims with Malaysia.

It is a matter of fact that both parties have agreed to resolve the issue through negotiations scheduled to take place in May upon Indonesia's initiative. Hence, diplomacy remains to be the preferred option in resolving differences with any country.

Indonesia has, since 1980, lodged a series of protests against Malaysia's unilateral claim of areas within its maritime borders. In this regard, Indonesia adheres to its principled position that a maritime border has an international dimension in itself and thus must not be determined single-handedly.

Subsequently, Malaysia's jurisdiction over Sipadan and Ligitan islands does not validate its decision to draw new maritime borders since Malaysia is neither an archipelagic state nor has the justifiable means to exercise any rights contained therein.

Indonesia's response to Malaysia's breach of the former's territorial sovereignty was done in a proper diplomatic manner. Therefore, unlike Ong's analysis, the dispatch of three Indonesian battleships to Ambalat is simply a naval patrol that may be rightfully exercised by any sovereign state over its sovereign territorial waters.