Datuk Paul Igai

KUCHING: The constant encroachment by foreign vessels into the state’s territorial waters near Beting Patinggi Ali has provoked the ire of Senator Datuk Paul Igai.

He said the activities of these foreign fishing vessels and even foreign coast guard vessels had undermined the sovereignty of the nation.

“Beting Patinggi Ali which is located 80 nautical miles from Tanjung Baram, Sarawak is in the Economic Exclusive Zone (EEZ) Malaysia.

“The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos) 1982 outlined parameters for the establishment of a country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ), which extends 200 nautical miles from the country’s coastline.

“Beting Patinggi Ali is only 80 nautical miles from the coastline of Sarawak,” he said when debating on the Royal Address in the Upper House of Parliament on Thursday.

Last month, Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein said Malaysia had taken constructive measures and diplomatic channels in line with international law to defend its territorial claims.

He added that the country had consistently submitted protest notes to countries whose vessels were discovered to have encroached into national waters.

“In fact, within these few months, I have spoken to the leaders of the countries involved in territorial claims in the South China Sea that all quarters should cooperate to avoid any incident, unintended or otherwise,” he said in Parliament.

The Auditor-General’s Report 2018 revealed that Chinese Coast Guard vessels were detected to have encroached into Malaysia’s waters 89 times between 2016 and 2019 with their presence related to claims over the South China Sea, especially the area around Beting Patinggi Ali.