Upgrading Natuna’s status to province not deemed urgent by lawmaker

Jakarta (ANTARA) - House of Representatives' Commission I member Sodik Mudjahid views it nonurgent to upgrade Natuna District, Riau Islands Province, into a special province over China's violation of Indonesia's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) rights in Natuna waters.

"I do not see any urgency in turning (Natuna) into a special province," he stated here on Wednesday.

The government of Riau Islands Province can monitor and manage the surveillance of the Natuna waters though its role must be intensified, he remarked.

Furthermore, the Maritime Security Board (Bakamla) can maintain the security and sovereignty of the Unitary Republic of Indonesia in the Natuna waters.

"The Riau Islands provincial government can conduct marine surveillance, and Bakamla can maintain security in the region," he remarked.

He highlighted the need to comprehensively study the proposal to turn Natuna into a province to evaluate whether security in Natuna and the other country's claim to the Natuna waters are related to the status of the region.

The Greater Indonesia Movement (Gerindra) Party lawmaker opined that Natuna will have a stronger autonomy if it is a district or municipality.

"If the provincial status heightens resilience against China's claim, it will be no problem as long as it complies with the provisions on regional division. However, the Home Affairs Ministry continues to impose a moratorium on regional division," he remarked.

Natuna District Head Hamid Rizal expressed hope that the government would merge the districts of Natuna and Anambas into a special province since they share common borders with other countries, and their territories are mostly maritime.

"I hope that in responding to the incident of illegal fishing in (Natuna) waters, the administrative status of Natuna District would draw greater attention by upgrading it to a special province, specifically Natuna Anambas Islands," he stated.

Natuna Sea, nearly 200 nautical miles offshore to the north, is within Indonesia's EEZ recognized internationally by the UNCLOS 1982 and is promulgated through Law No. 5 of 1983 on Indonesia's EEZ.

Over the course of the past few days, Chinese fishing vessels have been trespassing into Indonesia's EEZ in the Natuna waters. The fishing vessels were escorted by the Chinese Coast Guard in the waters some 130 miles off Ranai waters, Natuna.

The Indonesian Navy has deployed eight warships to patrol and secure the waters.

President Joko Widodo had earlier commended the statement of all his aides on the issue that showcased Indonesia's steadfastness in defending its sovereignty.

Source: Antara News

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