Indonesia–Malaysia Border - History


The birth of the Indonesia–Malaysia border, or at least the portion for what is today Peninsula Malaysia, can be attributed to the 1824 treaty between Great Britain and the Netherlands which was signed in London on 17 March 1824. The treaty determined the spheres of influence in the Malay archipelago between the two colonial powers - Great Britain and the Netherlands. Great Britain was allowed to establish colonies to the north of the Straits of Malacca and Straits of Singapore while the Dutch were allowed to colonise areas to the south of the bodies of water. This line of separation between the spheres of influence became the basis of the border between British Malaya and the Dutch East Indies and ultimately, their successor states Malaysia and Indonesia.

On Borneo, the expansion of British and Dutch interests and influence over local sultanates and kingdoms occurred gradually throughout the 19th century. The northern shore of Borneo saw the British adventurer James Brooke become the Rajah of Sarawak in 1842 and gradually expanded his kingdom to its present shape and size in 1905. The Sultan of Brunei's territories in today's Sabah were initially leased to Austrian interests, which ultimately fell into the hands of the British, which later formed the British North Borneo Company. The Sultan of Sulu also leased its territories on the east coast of today's Sabah to the British in 1878. In the southern part of Borneo, the Dutch were negotiating treaties with various sultanates, allowing it to be the dominant colonial power in that portion of the island. In 1889, as the acquired territories of the two powers started to get closer, a commission was created to recommend a boundary. The recommendations were legalised in the Boundary Convention of 1891 which was signed in London on 20 June 1891. The boundary was updated in the Boundary Agreement of 1915 which was signed in London on 28 September 1915, and again in another Boundary Convention which was signed in The Hague, the Netherlands, on 26 March 1928.

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