SEBATIK, ONE ISLAND TWO NATIONS

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Picture : Sebatik Island Map. (Doc by Haerul Ali)

SEBATIK – Being on the border line makes Sebatik Island even more unique. Sebatik is located in the South Sulawesi Sea. This island is divided into two areas which is controlled by 2 countries, namely the Republic of Indonesia and the Kingdom of Malaysia. The southern of the island is handed by Indonesia, located in North Kalimantan Province of Indonesia. Meanwhile, the northern is handle by Malaysia where the island is located in the State of Sabah.

There are 18 national markers in this area which are placed as a dividing mark between Indonesia’s Sebatik and Malaysia’s Sebatik. The separation of this area was based on an agreement between England and the Netherlands in 1891, where it was agreed that the boundaries of these two areas were on the coordinate line, 4 degrees 10 minutes.

The life of the community in this island is full of harmony and there are never any conflicts, even though the relationship between Indonesia and Malaysia is often hot and cold. For communities in the border of both countries, their lives are only separated by state administrative boundaries, they still communicate and have good relation.

The island is inhabited by the majority of the population who are Buginese, so the culture of the two regions is the same. They used to use the Bugis language as their daily language. They people here are respect each other, especially if there were in family parties such as weddings, Eid al-Fiti, Eid al-Adha holidays, and so on.

Regarding the people needs in this Island, most of the basic necessities are imported from Tawau City (Malaysia). This is also due to the low cost of necessities besides the access from Sebatik to Tawau City is easier, the distance is only about 17 minutes.

People works many in the agriculture, plantation, fisheries, and marine sectors. A number of people there is also work in the trade sector. They have established trade relations with the Malaysian community for decades. Sebatik traders used to leave the country (Kota Tawau, Malaysia) in the morning and return to the homeland (Sebatik Indonesia) in the afternoon.

In this Island, there are 2 currencies used by the public for doing transactions, namely the Indonesian Rupiah and the Malaysian Ringgit. The use of these 2 currencies has occurred decades ago, so that it has become local wisdom in the community.

The Indonesian government has designated Sebatik Island as a Border Area and Outermost Island based on Presidential Decree No. 6 of 2017. And the Malaysian kingdom is currently continuing to build and beautify its territory in the border area.

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