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Sulu claim shows Southeast Asia cannot yet escape colonial legacy

Governments should recognize citizens' cross-border communities

| Malaysia
Boats anchored at a river mouth at Tanjung Labian, one of the nearest points in Sabah, Malaysia to the Philippines: Locals have traveled across the Sulu Sea for years.   © Reuters

James Chin is professor of Asian studies at the University of Tasmania in Hobart, Australia.

Southeast Asia's inability to escape the legacy of European colonialism is on show once again, with a French arbitrator insisting that Malaysia owes billions of dollars under a land lease agreement dating back a century and a half between a vanished sultanate and a defunct British trading house.

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