Tue, 04 Feb 2003

Lemhanas calls for new body to examine nationality borders

Despite assurances from the foreign ministry that there is no threat of territorial loss after the Sipadan-Ligitan case, National Resilience Institute (Lemhannas) Governor Ermaya Suradinata urged on Monday the establishment of an interdepartment agency to deal with border issues.

Ermaya said such an agency was necessary to prevent further border disputes with neighboring countries and possible territorial loss as happened in the Sipadan-Ligitan case.

"This country should promptly set up an agency to focus on national borders," Ermaya told a hearing with House Commission I for defense and foreign affairs.

The body, he said, would clarify national borders from the aspect of continental borders, marine borders and exclusive economic zones.

Earlier, foreign ministry spokesman Marty Natalegawa said there was no threat of territorial loss after the defeat of Indonesia in the legal battle over Sipadan and Ligitan islands with Malaysia.

Legislators meanwhile expressed support for the proposal to form an agency and to outline a bill on territorial borders.

Isac Latuconsina, deputy commission chairman from the Indonesian Military (TNI)/Police faction in the House, said he fully backed the idea. He, however, suggested that the government should take the lead.

A fellow legislator from the United Development Party (PPP), Nadhier Muhammad, said the bill on territorial borders would be drawn up in anticipation of any territorial disputes. --JP