I have been called to comment on the contentious issue of Ambalat, a maritime area located off the east Kalimantan coast which both Malaysia and Indonesia has laid claims. The Ambalat maritime area is believed to be a rich in oil and gas resources that has remained untapped.
The dispute over the Ambalat stretch of the Celebes sea began with the publication of a map by Malaysia in 1979, that showed Malaysia's territorial waters and continental shelf included Ambalat. Since then, the Indonesian government have repeatedly said that Ambalat will not be compromised, and shall rightfully belong to Indonesia. The claims and counter claims has not been contested officially by either Malaysia or Indonesia at the International Court of Justice; like that of Sipadan and Ligitan. Indonesia further claims that Ambalat waters has been breached by the Malaysian navy for no less than 13 time this year.
The recent skirmish between the navies of both Indonesia and Malaysia in the Ambalat waters that could have ignited into a 'duel' between the two navies, is a matter of grave concern to both the countries. The comments made by senior military officers of the Indonesian Armed Forces over the recent skirmish, is one that does not seek to compromise, but rather one that is provocative in nature. They even said that they have sufficient forces to counter any threats in defence of Ambalat, in snide reference to Malaysia's claims of the maritime area.
Even Indonesian President Susilo Bambang is reported to have said quite categorically that he will not compromise on the issue of Ambalat with Malaysia, and is persistent that Ambalat belongs rightfully to Indonesia. He however recognises that a conflict option over this issue is to avoided, as it will only cause hardship to the Indonesian people. And likewise, he believes the same will be felt by the Malaysian people.
Malaysian leaders have somewhat been making subdued statements over the Ambalat issue, with DPM Muhyiddin Yasin appealing recently “to all parties in Indonesia and Malaysia to avoid provocative moves over the disputed Ambalat waters”. There is now a proposal to cease naval patrolling within the Ambalat maritime area. But will Indonesia heed to such a proposal?
Indonesian bloggers are having a field day at commenting on the issue of Ambalat, with some even suggesting that Indonesia should 'ganyang Malaysia', a famous phrase used by President Sukarno during his confrontation with Malaysia in the early 60's. And will we be able to stand up to such a call?
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