Standing on the side of Niagara River in the edge of New York and staring at Canada on the other side was an interesting experience. It was a real situation showing how physical and economic development in border area does really matter. People living in New York can easily see the face of Canada and observe how well-developed Canada is. At the same time, Canadians living along the side of Niagara River can also observe the situation in the US by staring New York on the other side of the river. I was convinced that the attention the US and Canada give to their border area can really define what people living there will think, say and do. There, in the border area, nationality can be easily questioned. Why would I stand here while there is better hope on the other side, which can be geographically reached without too much effort? This might be a typical question people living in border area would ask when they observe that the life on the other side of the fence is more promising.
Technically, border points deal with fixed coordinates that surveyed using adequate technology, equipment and method. For the field survey, the role of geodetic surveyors is significant. The use of sophisticated technology and scientific approach is a must to achieve accurate coordinates of border points. In addtition, collaboration between the two neighboring States during the establishment of border points is inevitable. However, the agreement is not the end of the story. Implementation and law enforcement that follow, most of the time, are much more complicated. For instance, no matter how accurate the coordinates of border markers are, issue of border marker shift and removal raises from time to time. This is also a big issue in the border between Indonesia and Malaysia in Borneo. Geodetic surveyors can survey and calculate accurate coordinates of border points but not much they can do when there is no commitment from both sides to respect the agreement.
Concerning the issue of territorial claim, it is true that we, theoretically, do not have to worry about our sovereignty. No State can claim our official territory. This includes all small outer islands, which have been officially recognized as parts of our archipelago. However, experience shows that issues of sovereignty and sovereign rights are really sensitive. People are always anxious that we may lose islands or land territory if our government does not put adequate attention. This is not fully correct but it does tell us something. We do not only deal with sovereignty and sovereign rights issues. There are some others to consider such as social issues, economic considerations, trust of the people to government, etc. The fact that people in Miangas Island to the North of Manado are much more familiar with Peso, Tagalog, and Phillipino GSM, for example, is an indication that there is something we should improve. It is true that the Philippines cannot claim Miangas Island as part of its territory but this can also be seen as social and political threat, to an extent.
Notwithstanding the possibility of nationalism degradation causing social problems in border area, this is the time for us to seriously think about the life of our people residing there. The main problem, in my opinion, is actually lack of development. When there is no option available in our home, than it is understandable when people think about opportunity on the other side of the fence. Government may say we have to be patient and understand our situation. However, life difficulties and starvation are not the place where patience can grow properly. I guess we should do something.