Monday, June 8, 2009


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?



mohamad said...

Where has the General Border Committee (GBC)and the spirit of co-operations disappeared to?
I thought GBC, as an inbuilt platform for Indonesia and Malaysia to discuss border issue
should be used to discuss Ambalat case.

Passing aggressive statements over media by either party is not a healthy way to handle international issue such as Ambalat. Leaders of both countries should exercise constraints and avoid displaying ego and sentiments through the media. Instead, Indonesian and Malaysian leaders at all levels from President Susilo and PM Najib to military commanders should have cups of tea or rounds of golf together to help to reduce a possible conflict.

Indonesia and Malaysia had bitter experiences of border straints and sour relationship as a result of "ganyang malaysia" attitude in the early sixtiees. While this confrontational approach meets the ego and national pride of some, it will lead to disaster to both parties.

We need not go through another bitter bilateral relatioship!

FMZam said...

Quote "The dispute between Indonesia and Malaysia over the Ambalat offshore area emerged in February 2005 as a result of overlaps in oil concession blocks issued by the two States" Unquote.

Ambalat is so close to Sipidan and Ligitan to remind Indonesia of their loss to Malaysia in ICJ that another loss is unbearable. It's been 4 years and Ambalat issue has never been resolved and will remained unresolved because to Indonesia, Malaysia has won Sipadan and Ligitan it's too much for Malaysia now to extend claim over Ambalat base on territorial baseline boundary as the result of having won Ligitan and Sipadan.

That is why Indonesia said Ambalat will not be compromised, not with any GBC meeting because of it's sensitivity, not by any top level talks between leaders of the two countries, nothing! Indonesia simply said leave Ambalat alone!

And Ambalat is not an island:-
Quote “Many people are not fully aware of the position of the Ambalat offshore area. Some even do not realize that Ambalat is not an island but an offshore area as well as the name associated with two Indonesian oil exploration blocks located in the east of Borneo. The Ambalat offshore area referred to in this case is the overlapping area claimed by Indonesia and Malaysia between Indonesia's existing Ambalat and East Ambalat and Malaysia's Block ND6 and ND7” Unquote.

So if over this issue Indonesia called for Ganyang Malaysia, it is understandable that they have not recovered from the loss of Sipadan and Ligitan and I quote this “The Sipadan and Ligitan case still resonates in Indonesia. The loss of territory is keenly felt by any State but especially so for Indonesia in the aftermath of the 'loss' of East Timor in 1999. The reaction was exacerbated by the fact that the Indonesian government and media had not prepared the public for the possibility of defeat so that the loss was largely unexpected” Unquote.

I call for Malaysia to slow down over this matter and not pursuing it like we did over Sipadan and Ligitan is the best way to extinguish the flame that has started since many years ago. We cannot expect Indonesia to back off and if we want to think over this matter as a matter of principle and sovereignty, so is Indonesia, and it will drag on until maybe a war may resolve it for us. That if we want to make Ambalat another FLASHPOINT to add to already many other flashpoints of the world.

maurice said...

The Indonesians will not put the Ambalat issue on the agenda of the General Border Committee (GBC) as it would give the message that it is common problem that need to be solved together with Malaysia.When there is no mutual consensus, it cannot be an item for GBC discussion.The GBC is a political mechanism whose utilty could only be realized when there is a common interest by both parties to discuss a particular issue together.

The Indonesians see Ambalat as their sacred national territory, not to be tresspassed by any party whatsoever.So Malaysia should not rely too much on the GBC to solve the Ambalat case.

Our country on the other hand has a valid claim on some parts of the Ambalat as clearly stated by Wikipedia, "In late 2002, the ICJ awarded the two islands to Malaysia based on effective occupation. The decision however did not touch on the issue of the Indonesia-Malaysia maritime boundary in that area of the Celebes Sea.Indonesia amended its baselines to take into consideration the ICJ decision, removing the islands as basepoints, and redrawing its baseline in 2008 from the eastern shore of Sebatik Island to Karang Unarang and three other points to the south-east. This results in the Ambalat Block no longer being entirely inside Indonesian internal waters. And with Sipadan and Ligitan becoming Malaysian territory, Malaysia, which has not officially declared its baselines, could make the islands its basepoints and this could theoretically put Malaysia in a better position to claim the Ambalat area.However, any determination of the ownership of Ambalat would require the maritime territorial limits of two countries to be determined via negotition."

This being the case, both countries must exercise military restraint instead, should negotiate to determine the marititime territorial limits of the area based on international laws.

Hansac said...


I don't I have to ask your opinion, that Malaysia is no match for Indonesia military. Heck, our commandos used to train in Ciliwung. Surely a student cannot beat a master. At this time and now, Indonesia is a military giant in SEA. It is such that they choose to be dormant.

If Indonesia has territorial ambitions, you and I Dato mungkin bicara dalam bahasa Indonesia, :).

Why do we pick up fights with Indonesia?

komando said...

It is not about fighting a WAR, it is about Najib the PM being a leader (if ever he is one) can resolve the issue!

We put him to test !
See if he is good enough...!
Not send the PAT to resolve it, what does the President of Indonesia thinks of our PAT?

Why the Minister of Defence and and our ever so clever Foreign Minister is not called to resolve or suggest a plan of action!

Why make the PAT go and solve it, is he a national leader or who is ruling this country actually?

Or maybe he is the best scape goat ( another kambing hitam), if he FAILS THEN ALL CAN BLAME HIM IF REAL WAR BREAKS OUT!



Haezrikal said...

This is not a military issues. It should be resolved by our PM with his counterpart through our diplomatic channel. Why make the PAT as a political tool?

maurice said...

The PAT has a political role to play in national security and defence issues.The function of the Armed Forces nowdays is to keep the peace between countries, not to create wars.If war breaks out between Malaysia and Indonesia, then the Armed Forces has failed its duty to keep the peace with Indonesia.

To keep the peace the MAF must develop credible deterrent capability.Having the latest weapon systems in the MAF is an important part of building this deterrent capability.This is why the government must accelerate the modernization programme of the MAF by whatever means.

By tradition the PANGAB (Panglima Angakatan Bersenjata) Indonesia and PAT have special chief-to-chief relationship which is the envy of other countries.They can resolve tricky issues and steer the country out of possible potential military conflicts.

This is military diplomacy at its best!