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Thread: Sabah: The Sabah standoff

  1. #1
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    Oct 2008

    Sabah: The Sabah standoff

    The Philppines point of view

    The Sabah standoff

    By Randy David
    Philippine Daily Inquirer

    12:29 am | Thursday, February 21st, 2013

    There is more to the ongoing standoff between Malaysian forces and some 300 armed men holed up in a coastal village in Sabah than meets the eye. The latter are Filipino nationals, though they identify themselves as members of the “Royal Security Forces of the Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo.” They have announced that they sailed to Sabah to reclaim their rightful homeland. Heaven forbid that any harm should befall them. For, that will play right into the hands of those who, for some reason or other, wish to derail the current peace effort in Mindanao and foment a rift between Malaysia and the Philippines.

    The relations between the two countries have significantly improved after Malaysia began hosting the peace negotiations between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. Malaysia has a clear interest in the political stabilization of neighboring Muslim Mindanao. In the past, Muslim rebels routinely sought sanctuary in Malaysian territory, and their presence there not only strained relations with the Philippines but also posed the danger of locally spreading a politicized Islam. Of course, beyond all this, the Malaysian investment in goodwill, properly acknowledged as a Filipino debt of gratitude, serves to undercut any move to activate a long-standing irritant in the relations of the two countries.

    The Sultan’s heirs have been pressing the Philippine government to actively pursue its sovereign claim to Sabah. Keeping the issue alive will greatly bolster their demand to be justly compensated as the rightful private owners of the territory. The Philippine claim is solely anchored on the property rights asserted by the descendants of the Sultan of Sulu. This claim was formally advanced by President Diosdado Macapagal in 1962. That was the year before the British formally relinquished their colonial hold on Malaya, North Borneo, Sarawak, and the straits settlements (including Singapore), paving the way for the establishment of Malaysia as an independent state. Singapore subsequently left the Malaysian federation.

    “North Borneo,” writes the historian Onofre D. Corpuz, “was crucial to the new Malaysia; without it, the latter would have an overriding Chinese majority in its population, because Singapore was to be part of Malaysia. (Sender's comment: The comment in bold may be incorrect as the original "racial balance" argument included the Bruenian Malays as counter balance to the Chinese. Surely a most bizarre reason for forming a new country!) The United Kingdom, the United States, and Japan had interests in the new state based on global strategic considerations. The claim would be pursued, if at all, in diplomatic isolation. The future of the Philippine claim, into the 1980s, was not bright.” Sure enough, the keen desire of the Philippine government to forge strong regional ties with its major Southeast Asian neighbors thereafter consigned the issue to the margins of Philippine foreign policy.

    It has been a long time since the Sabah claim has been openly discussed in the media or, even less, officially taken up by any administration. Yet, no Philippine president has dared to categorically renounce the country’s claim to this territory. The young generation of Filipinos, who are unaware of the historic claim of the heirs of the Sultan of Sulu, may thus be forgiven if they perceive the group of Sultan Jamalul Kiram III as no different from those syndicates who now and then invade expensive real estate in Metro Manila waving fictitious royal titles. But, this particular claim is by no means founded on fantasy.

    North Borneo was acquired by the Sultanate of Sulu sometime in the 17th century as a gift from the Sultan of Brunei, in appreciation for the former’s help in successfully quelling a local rebellion against the latter’s rule. In 1878, the Sultanate of Sulu agreed to lease the property to a British company. Malaysia argues that in 1885, Spain renounced all claims of sovereignty over the whole of Borneo, in exchange for British recognition of Spanish sovereignty over the entire Sulu archipelago. Its lawyers contend, moreover, that the Sultanate of Sulu ended in 1936 following the death of the last Sultan.

    Yet, since its formation in 1963, the Malaysian state has thought it proper to hand over every year to the lawyers of the descendants of the Sultan of Sulu a check for 5,300 Malaysian ringgit (about P70,000 at the current exchange rate). Before that, except for the period between 1936 and 1950, the payment was made by the British North Borneo Co., in accordance with the terms of a lease agreement between the British company and the heirs of the Sultan. Today, Malaysia calls the token payment “cession,” meaning payment made in exchange for the ceding of property rights. The Sultan’s descendants, however, continue to refer to it as “rent,” for obvious reasons. Regardless, the amount is ridiculous. The territory in question covers approximately 30,000 square miles.

    The Sultan’s heirs have a pending petition with the United Nations for the return of Sabah to the family. This may be a way of compelling Malaysia to pay a substantially higher rent, or an offer to quit all claims in exchange for a huge payment. But, it is also possible that Malaysia intends to stop paying altogether in order to put to rest any doubt about Malaysian sovereignty over Sabah. Unfortunately, the UN has not acted on the petition.

    The “invasion” led by the brother of the current Sultan is clearly an attempt to shove the issue into the faces of the two governments, neither of which relishes being dictated upon by the heirs of an archaic sultanate. Still, both governments must realize that they have an interest in ending this standoff without firing a single shot. A messy end to this impasse could stoke ethnic resentments and needlessly inflame nationalist sentiments.

  2. #2
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    Oct 2008
    Old claims roil Philippine peace deal

    By Noel Tarrazona

    ZAMBOANGA CITY - A two-week standoff between a group of Filipino Muslims and Malaysian security officials over territory on the oil-rich island of Borneo highlights the lack of consensus surrounding last year's peace agreement between the Philippine government and the rebel Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

    On February 12, an estimated 180 Filipinos referring to themselves as the "Sultanate's Royal Security Forces" arrived by boat from the southern Philippines on Lahad Datu, a remote part of Sabah state in northeastern Malaysia, to assert a centuries-old claim to the area by the Sultanate of Sulu.

    The lightly armed group is now squared off with Malaysian security forces while both governments scramble for a peaceful resolution to the situation. Malaysian police forces have declared a series of deadlines for the group to leave the area but each has passed without an armed crackdown. On Monday, the group rebuffed Manila's offer to escort them back to the Philippines on a naval vessel.

    The Sultanate of Sulu ruled the contested area in Sabah for centuries before it was transferred by British colonialists to Malaysia in 1963. At the time the Philippines contested the transfer, claiming that the British North Borneo Company leased rather than purchased the eastern part of Sabah from the sultanate and thus did not possess the authority to transfer ownership to Malaysia.

    Kuala Lumpur continues to make modest "cession" payments to the heirs of the sultanate, in apparent recognition of the territory's contested absorption. Despite receipt of those payments, reigning Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III issued a decree on November 1, 2012 mandating his followers and royal security forces to travel to and settle peacefully in Sabah.

    For decades, Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III has called to no avail on Philippine governments, including incumbent President Benigno Aquino's administration, to support his sultanate's historical claim to Sabah. The sultan's royal order to his followers was issued just two weeks after the signing of the provisional Framework Agreement for Bangsamoro between the government and MILF rebels to create a new autonomous region on the southern island of Mindanao.

    Kiram, who reigns over an archipelago situated at the remote southernmost tip of the Philippines, has complained he was excluded from the MILF negotiations. Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda has countered by noting that Karim attended the official signing ceremony of the agreement. "It is unfortunate that he's complaining only now, " Lacierda said.

    MILF leaders have declined to comment on Kiram's royal order to occupy Sabah, saying only without elaborating that it is a "very sensitive" issue. Some analysts believe that Mindanao's long and debilitating armed conflict will not be wholly resolved as long as there remain pockets of disgruntled armed groups.

    Julkipli Wadi, head of the University of the Philippines' Islamic Studies department, said that the sultanate's claim to Sabah is at the heart of the wider conflict in Mindanao. Both the MILF and Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) trace their rebel beginnings to the Philippine government's push in the late 1960s to reclaim Sabah.

    Their rebellion was sparked by the massacre of an estimated 150 ethnic Moro Muslims from Sulu who were trained in late 1967 by the Philippine military to undertake Operation Merdeka, a clandestine effort to foment instability among non-Malay groups in Sabah in advance of an invasion. The recruits eventually balked at the prospect of killing fellow Muslims in Sabah and were massacred when they demanded to return to Sulu.

    A group of ethnic Moro Muslim intellectuals led by Nur Misuari later formed the MNLF and commenced an armed struggle against Manila's rule in response to the military's betrayal and brutality of fellow Moros. The MILF broke away from the MNLF in 1977 after the group's leaders accepted a government offer of semi-autonomy over the territories it controlled in a deal brokered by Libya.

    "Some claim the root causes of Mindanao conflict are poverty, self-determination and ideology but if we are to examine the conflict closely, the root cause of the Mindanao conflict is the Sabah claim issue," Wadi said.

    Aquino has sided publicly with Malaysia on the issue, which has strained bilateral relations already vexed by the frequent deportation of undocumented Filipinos based in Sabah. To defuse the situation, Aquino sent representatives to Kiram requesting that he call back his people.

    "It must be clear to you that this small group of people will not succeed in addressing your grievances, and that there is no way that force can achieve your aims," Aquino said in a public statement on Tuesday.

    He further warned the heirs of the sultanate that they could face tax evasion charges for receiving a token annual rent of US$1,500 from Malaysia in cessation money. "They could be arrested if a warrant is issued by the court for non-payment of taxes," Aquino said.

    Kiram has responded defiantly by saying he is willing to face all of the threatened charges.

    At the same time, the incident has stoked the passions of certain nationalistic Filipino lawmakers. Party list congressman Sherwin Tugna recently called on the government to take a stand on the sultanate's claim to Sabah, likening the situation to Manila's territorial conflicts with China in the South China Sea. Last year's standoff between Filipino and Chinese vessels over the Scarborough Shoal sparked hitherto unseen waves of territorial nationalism in the Philippines.

    It still seems doubtful that the Sulu sultanate's claim to territory in Sabah will galvanize a similar grassroots response. But the incident has underscored the fragility and lack of consensus behind last year's peace deal with the MILF. The government and MILF are still discussing implementing mechanisms of the peace agreement, including the potential deal breaker of under what conditions the MILF would be willing to decommission their arms.

    Two armed groups, the Sulu-based Abu Sayyaf and central Mindanao-based Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, have rejected the agreement and continue to defy the government's authority. If the grievances of the Sultanate's Royal Security Forces are unaddressed, or the group is martyred in an armed crackdown, they could emerge as a new third armed group bent on undermining the MILF's peace deal.

    Several analysts and activists believe that the conflict in Mindanao cannot be resolved unless all stakeholders are represented. "How can we achieve peace and development in Mindanao when Mindanaoans are not equally represented in the negotiating panel?" said Rolly Pelinggon, national convener for Mindanaoans for Mindanao, a people's organization lobbying for more equitable distribution of state programs and projects in the region.

    Noel T Tarrazona, MPA, is a permanent resident (immigrant) of Vancouver, Canada. He is presently in Mindanao doing development work. He is also a teaching faculty member of the Universidad de Zamboanga Master of Public Administration Program. He may be reached at

  3. #3
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    Oct 2008
    Lahad Datu invasion: The real story?

    Amir Ali
    | March 2, 2013

    The sultanate has little resources at its disposal to run the 'government' of Sulu. Thus a fresh deal with Malaysia will help it keep the ball rolling.
    The Lahad Datu “invasion” is not merely about a group of armed men intruding into Sabah. After weeks of a tense standoff between the “occupiers” and Malaysian security forces, a clearer picture has emerged.

    It appears that the heavily armed group wants to turn the “occupation” into an international issue, specifically to draw attention to its plea for an independent Sulu sultanate.

    But the sultanate is financially not in good shape and hence, the group turned its attention to Sabah where it claimed the Sulu sultan has “rented out” the state to Malaysia.

    The Sulu sultan told AFP on Feb 27 that the Malaysian government is paying the sultanate RM5,300 yearly in exchange for agreeing to let Sabah become a Malaysian state.

    It appears that the group wants to renegotiate for a higher “rent”. By seeking a higher payment, the sultan hopes to keep Sulu afloat.
    However, the Malaysian government has not acknowledged the existence of such a “rent”.

    The group probably decided that the best way to force the Malaysian government to renegotiate a better “deal” is to occupy the village in Lahad Datu.

    According to observers, the sultanate has little resources at its disposal to run the “government” of Sulu. Thus a fresh deal with Malaysia will help it keep the ball rolling.

    Manila’s war against “terror” did not include the province of Sulu. But still the province was engulfed in this war as the Abu Sayyaf group spread its wings across the Muslim majority areas.

    As a result, Manila sent its armed forces to Sulu in its campaign against terrorism. But the Sulu people did not see the presence of the Philippine armed forces as part of the war on terror.

    Instead, they deemed it as an occupation force, attempting to control the territory and at the same time exploiting the vast riches of the region.

    It is reported that its natural wealth includes minerals and oil and gas reserves in the Sulu waters. According to observers, the Philippines has so far failed to carry out its oil extraction activities in Sulu.

    By forcefully entering Sabah, the “Sulu Sultanate Royal Army” hopes to renegotiate the annual fees and also to get Malaysia to extract the oil in Sulu.

    According to some reports, Manila and its foreign partners have stopped extracting oil in Sulu because of frequent breakdown in the drilling machine.

    Independence declaration

    A little-known event occurred in November 2010 when the sultan of Sulu, Sultan Jamalul Kiram III, officially declared the Sulu province an independent state from the Philippines.

    The Tausug people (the people of the Sulu sultanate are from the Tausug tribe) see themselves as independent, free and have adopted the syariah as their constitution.

    This piece of news was not reported in the Malaysian mainstream media.

    In the peace deal concluded between Manila and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the Sulu province was not included.

    (The MILF is a breakaway faction from the MNLF. The former is pursuing its claim to Sabah.)

    According to an observer close to the Tausug royalty, the sultanate of Sulu Darul Islam (SSDI) is not part of the framework agreement between Manila and the MILF.

    Since 2010, the bulk of the Philippine armed forces had withdrawn from Sulu.

    According to sources, the United States is not against an independent Sulu. This perhaps explains why Manila did not take any action against the sultan when he made the declaration of independence.

    KL-based Amir Ali works for an Indonesian NGO called the Warisan Melayu Riau, which is based in Bengkalis, Riau.

    - See more at:

  4. #4
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    Oct 2008
    The solution to illegal immigrants has always been economic. They are like ants attracted to sugar. Stop the sugar and they will leave quietly. The Sabahans are finally waking up to the folly of their greed.

    Filipinos losing jobs in Sabah following standoff

    March 1, 2013
    Some of those laid off claim that it was because of the standoff between the followers of the Sulu Sultanate and the Malaysian security force.
    ZAMBOANGA CITY : Malaysian employers have laid off a number of Filipino workers in Sabah in light of the tensions created by the “homecoming” of the heirs of the sultanate of Sulu and armed members of their “royal army” to press their proprietary claims over the eastern portion of the island, relatives of the workers and local officials in Mindanao said.

    Among the first to be laid off was Myrna de la Cruz of Isabela City in Basilan,reports the Philippine Inquirer

    Madeline, 18, Myrna’s daughter, said she received a call from her mother early this week to inform her that she was sacked by her Malaysian employer as a laundry attendant in Tawau.

    Myrna had been working in Tawau for nearly two decades already before the Lahad Datu stand-off started on Feb 12, three days after Agbimuddin Kiram, the sultate’s crown prince and younger bother of Sultan Jamalul Kiram III, and his followers arrived.

    “She told me her employer advised her to go home so she would not be implicated in the Lahad Datu situation,” Madeline told the Inquirer by phone.

    Ramir Abdulhalil, a 20-year-old college student from Patikul, Sulu, said his father also informed the family he and three other colleagues had lost their jobs last week at an oil palm plantation in Sempornah, also in Sabah.
    “The tension in Sabah was the most likely reason for the loss of my father’s job,” Ramir said, adding his father decided to come home instead of trying to find another job there.
    The government has said the stand-off in Sabah between Malaysian security forces and the so-called Sulu “royal army” has put the jobs of Filipinos in Malaysia at risk.
    Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II told Manila reporters as early as last week that while the government was trying to help address the tension, brought about by the renewed ownership claim of the heirs of the erstwhile sultanate over Sabah, Malaysian employers might view Filipinos as not trustworthy.

    According to government data, about 800,000 Filipinos work in various Malaysian states. Most of them are in Sabah, where they have been tolerated for decades even if they didn’t possess working documents because of the historically close, even familial, ties between Sabahans and residents of Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.

    There were more unverified reports of Filipinos losing their jobs in the wake of the Lahad Datu stand-off, according to acting governor Mujiv Hataman of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

    If the termination of Filipino employees has indeed become a way for Malaysian employers to show they were standing up for their country and its territory, local officials said a much larger problem lies ahead.

    Sulu governo Abdusakur Tan admitted that the provincial government has no means to accommodate those who will be displaced if more Filipinos were sent home by their Malaysian employers.

    “There is no job for them here. Many of them did not even have houses here,” Tan said by phone.

    He said the influx of jobless Tausugs, many of whom were not even raised here, from Sabah would create a serious problem besides raising local unemployment figures.

    “They might contribute to social and peace and order problems in the future,” Tan said.


    - See more at:

  5. #5
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    Oct 2008

    Sabah: To whom does Sabah belong? Must read !!!

    To whom does Sabah belong? Must read !!!

    Popular Posts from Borneo Herald

    Thursday, March 14, 2013

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    In 1963, Sabah was bundled with Sarawak into a strategic arrangement between Britain and Malaya to consolidate Britain's colonial territories and economic interests and replace British colonial rule in this region with Malayan rule in the newly created Malaysia.

    When the Malaysia proposal was announced in 1961 by Tunku Abdul Rahman, this immediately touched off local and regional controversy and opposition to "Malaysia" as a neo-colonial scheme to prolong colonial rule- especially by Indonesia and the Philippines. This led to Indonesia's Konfrontasi against Malaysia and the Philippines claim on Sabah.

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    Wednesday, March 13, 2013

    Sultanate of Sulu: Pawn or legacy?

    Malaysia has responded with troops and fighter jets to an ancient and deadly claim to a remote corner of Borneo. It marked a dramatic conclusion to a bizarre three-week siege that appeared to catch the governments of the Philippines and Malaysia off guard.

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    A group of Filipino rebels pitched up in a seaside village on the island of Borneo, and asserted their ancestral ownership rights to the territory.

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    UN Needed for Complete Solution to Sabah's Problems

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    Waking up from slumber in Sabah, Sarawak

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    In the Bible, Matthew 13:10-17, it's stated that Jesus said: “For whoever has, to him more shall be given, and he will have abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has shall be taken away from him.”

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    Tuesday, March 12, 2013

    Sabah – jinxed for all time?

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    They’re terrorists, not intruders, says Musa

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    Kiram’s people talk ‘disengagement’

    MANILA: More than a week after violence broke out in Sabah between followers of the Sulu sultanate and Malaysian security forces, a brother of Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III today met with Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II to discuss “disengagement”.

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    Explain Authority & Implications of Establishing Special Security Area and What Rules

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    Monday, March 11, 2013

    800,000 Filipinos may be sent home

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  6. #6
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    Oct 2008
    Rajah Muda Kiram: A Teacher, Not A Fighter

    By: Edd K. Usman
    Published: March 9, 2013

    Rajah Muda Agbimuddin Kiram, 72, the leader of the 235-strong self-styled Royal Security Force (RSF) of the Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo, is a teacher, not a fighter.

    He is a brother of Sultan Jamalul Kiram III, who issued a royal decree allowing him and the RSF members to make a “journey home” to Sabah, Malaysia, referring to the sultanate’s “ancestral right” over the oil-rich island.

    But Malaysia stands firm that Sabah is part of its federation.

    They are now the target of Malaysia’s ongoing “Oplan Daulat,” an all-out offensive that started on March 5 in Kampung (Village) Tanduo, Felda Sahabat 17, near Lahad Datu, Sabah.

    Manila Bulletin spoke with the rajah muda’s close kins, including his son Datu Shayeed and his (rajah muda’s) younger brother Datu Abdilnaser, as the Sabah standoff escalated into a firefight on March 1 that further widened into a massive offensive again them.

    Of all the descriptions they gave about him, fighter is not one of them.

    They said he is soft-spoken, a fisherman, a farmer, and a religious person.

    When the rajah muda was a kid, he was known as “the silent type,” and used “diplomacy” in settling things, said Datu Abdilnaser.

    “If ever he uttered words, he was always diplomatic. He did not get into a fight,” he adds.

    Rajah muda studied at the Sulu Trade School in Jolo, Sulu, getting up to second year college, he said.

    But it was enough, he said, to make him an elementary teacher for two years in Tabawan, Tawi-Tawi. He is married to Hadja Nurkisa, also an elementary teacher, who retired about five years ago.

    They have 10 children.

    “Back then, a second year college education could get you a teaching job,” he recalls.

    Rajah muda, or crown prince of the Sultanate of Sulu, taught for two years at a Tawi-Tawi school.

    When President Ferdinand Marcos declared martial law all over the Philippines on Sept. 21, 1972, Datu Punjungan Kiram, a crown prince then, hied off to Sabah.

    Datu Abdilnaser said then Chief Minister Tun Mustapha, a fellow Tausug, invited their father Sultan Punjungan.

    “After six months, we followed our father,” says Datu Abdilnaser, except Kiram III, Datu Phugdar, and Datu Bararuddin.

    Tun Mustapha had promised to crown their father as sultan of Sulu, but a jealous brother of the chief minister stopped it, he said.

    “All the preparations, the royal raiment and regalia were ready,” he said.

    Datu Abdilnaser said they were provided 1,000 Malaysian ringgit by the chief minister as allowances.

    “We stayed from 1971 to 1979,” he recalls.

    Marcos went to Sabah and convinced their father to return home.

    Datu Abdilnaser said during their time in Kudat, Sabah, rajah muda was a fisherman, a farmer to support his children’s studies.

    There was a time the rajah muda worked as assistant district officer in Kudat for two years, he said.

    “Rajah muda was helpful to his brothers, also to other people. If he has nothing, he will find a way to help,” he said.
    His son Datu Shayeed recalled his father, saying even at only 5’6” inches tall he was a “star player” in basketball because of his ability to jump high.

    “My father also loves to box, he also loves going fishing and harvesting ‘agar-agar’ (seaweed),” the young Kiram said.
    On the Sabah standoff, he said his father was reluctant to lead the RSF members because of the resources needed.
    “It took long to convince him,” he said.

    He finally agreed when they said they will pay for themselves.

    Datu Abdilnaser said rajah muda is the leader of what he claimed a 10,000-strong RSF, also called “Royal Army.”
    RSF members, he said, are in Sulu, Basilan, Tawi-Tawi, and in the Zamboanga Peninsula.

    Presently, the rajah muda and his men have heeded Sultan Jamalul Kiram III’s imposition of a unilateral ceasefire and cessation of hostilities on Sabah island.

  7. #7
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    Oct 2008
    Sabah stand-off shakes up Malaysian politics

    Tags: Opinion & Analysis, Politics, World, Interview, Malaysia
    Yekaterina Kudashkina Mar 12, 2013 14:03 Moscow Time

    Malaysia. Photo: EPA
    Dr. Gerhard Hoffstaedter of the University of Queensland, Australia, shares his take on the armed conflict in the Malaysian state of Sabah, where a ragtag band of fighters from the so-called Royal Army of the Sultan of Sulu clashed with Malaysian troops.

    Sabah, what is today the state of Sabah in Malaysia used to be a dominion of the Sultanate of Brunei until the British came and essentially split up that Sultanate, which remains till this day but the territory it controls is very small. At one stage it controlled vast parts of Borneo and parts of what is now the Philippines. A subsequent sultanate, the sultanate of Sulu, which still lays claim to Sabah, over which we’ve read a lot in news lately, because they sent a detachment of over 200 armed guards or militants to state that claim, currently claimed to have a power over this territory or parts of this territory and that claim has never really been resolved, so until this day the Malaysian state actually pays what some people call session money, what other people call rental money to the heirs of the sultan of Sulu, which was agreed a long time ago between the British and the sultan of Sulu. And so there is this ongoing discrepancy of histories if you like, the discrepancy of the heirs or decedents of the sultan of Sulu, the state of Sabah is still part of their inheritance if you like, although long time ago they’ve given up sovereignty to the Philippines state, so they are not a sovereign sultanate or sovereign state in any way, they can’t make claims, only the Philippines can make claims over Sabah, and they have tried to take it to the international court of justice but Malaysia would not entertain that for obvious reasons, Sabah is home to large oil reserves, forestry, palm oil and has been an integral part of the Malaysian state since 1960s and indeed it’s been instrumental in maintaining the current ruling coalition in Malaysian government since 1957 since the authorities of Sabah joined the federation in 60s because they’ve managed to get substantially more votes in east Malaysia than in west Malaysia and had east Malaysia voted similar to west Malaysia in the last election, we wouldn’t have seen a change in government already in Malaysia. So, the current government is quite dependant on both Sarawak and Sabah as a voting block.

    Do ethnic differences play a serious role in the domestic policies?

    It is a very difficult and complex issue and there is actually a big difference in terms of the ethnic question in west Malaysia and east Malaysia. In west Malaysia it is really about Indian, Chinese and Malay identity politics around that, whereas in east Malaysia it is quite different because there is a vast or much larger proportion of indigenous people and a lot of them are not Muslims so the issue of Islam does not arise as it does in west Malaysia and so especially Sabah has much more of a cosmopolitan history and ethic than, say, west Malaysia where identity politics that has been imbued with religious politics or the identity politics around religion is much more pronounced. So, in fact one of the biggest minorities in Sabah is Philippines and in a way the makeup of Sabah is much more diverse than the makeup of west Malaysia, that has a very different ethnic politics that happens over there.
    What actually keeps this country together?

    The politicians have been very good at building alliances. From the outset, from independence in 1957, the ruling government decided to use consociation rule, which meant that each of the major ethnic groups had a seat at the table, so the ruling coalition is made up of a Malay party, Chinese party and Indian party but they also included power brokers from the two eastern states – Sabah and Sarawak, and also gave them a lot of concessions when they joined in 1963 in terms of maintaining some extra royalties, oil and forestry concessions and also in terms of immigration controls. So, even if you are Malaysian citizen from west Malaysia, if you travel to Sarawak, you have to show your passport and they can let you in or not let you in. So, they have some extra powers but the Malaysian state is relatively centralized and they’ve managed to keep all the states in check if you like through a very strong federal government and partly because the federal government has most of the pulling strings in their hand, so the states have to toe the line if they want to get even royalties from their own offshore oil, for instance. So, the federal state is very strong and remains very strong in Malaysia, which is partly why this episode in Sabah right now is quite strange and has a lot of people asking penetrating questions about what’s happening, how could just over 200 armed militants take over an area and retain it for weeks, how come the Malaysian government hasn’t sent troops much earlier and tried to get control over their sovereign area. So, there are the questions that have not been answered and in fact we haven’t actually heard a lot from what’s happening in those areas, there’s lots of internet postings and blog posts and the twitter is ablaze with speculations as it always is but we haven’t had a lot of concrete evidence and reporters on the ground giving us a better picture of what is going on. They have good relations which China and certainly in economic terms Malaysia is a major trading partner with China and because of a large group of Chinese within Malaysia who do a lot of business with China, they have very good relationships but I wouldn’t say they have a special relationship that was better than other countries within the region in general.

    With a changing political environment in that region could the Chinese count on them as their allies?

    If you are thinking around issues like the South China Sea, I wouldn’t think so, but I also wouldn’t think that they are an enemy of any kind. China has on occasion raised the issue of treatment of Chinese citizens within Malaysia but they have very cordial diplomatic relationships and obviously a very strong economic relationship that will impact how far either party will push a certain issue. One of the conspiracy theories that is currently doing the rounds is about the election, and there is an upcoming election and the prime minister Najib has to call an election very soon, he can’t call one before April 21st, and if he doesn’t, then the elections commission has to call one within 60 days and it is usual that the prime minister would call it earlier at a time when his approval ratings are high. Now, PM Najib’s approval ratings have been going down quite rapidly over the last couple of weeks, so he is unlikely to call it now. A standoff in Sabah could delay elections certainly in Sabah perhaps, maybe even in the entire country, it could show a force on his part, could reassert him, could give him a bounce back in the polls. I mean these are some of the questions being asked - why now? I mean these claims from the sultanate of Sulu have been there for a very long time and the timing does seem either suspicious or odd at least and raise questions especially because his poll showings are quite bad and the opposition has worked very hard since already shaking up the establishment in 2008 in the last election when they denied the ruling coalition a 2/3 majority, which it had enjoyed since independence, and a lot of observers expect the opposition if not to outright win, to cause another major shakeup in Malaysian politics at the next elections.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Malaysian Forces Bombed

    Sabah Air Strikes Hit Wrong Target; Kiram’s Army Spared

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    NST story

    By: Edd K. Usman

    Published: March 6, 2013

    Malaysian armed forces yesterday started their massive campaign against Rajah Muda Agbimuddin Kiram and his men, launching air strikes in a bid to end the three-week standoff in Sabah.

    However, instead of hitting their target, the Malaysian bombers dropped two bombs on their own security forces, the Sultanate of Sulu said.

    Abraham J. Iribani, spokesman of the sultanate and Sultan Jamalul Kiram III, said he spoke early Tuesday morning with the rajah mudah (crown prince), who disclosed the aerial assault by Malaysia.

    Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said the government had no choice but to quell Malaysia’s worst security crisis in years, sparked when militants invaded to claim the Malaysian state of Sabah for Kiram III.

    “The longer this invasion lasts, it is clear to the authorities that the invaders do not intend to leave Sabah,” Najib said, adding that negotiations had gone nowhere.

    “The government must take action to safeguard the dignity and sovereignty of the country as required by the people.”

    The rajah muda, younger brother of the Sultan Kiram III, said they saw a jet plane hovering above at 9:30 a.m., but a bit far from their stronghold.

    He told Idjirani the jet plane dropped two bombs on the Malaysian military and police forces encamped at Kampung Tanduo, Lahad Datu.

    The bombing of the Malaysian security forces could not be confirmed independently as of press time.

    Idjirani said the rajah muda was bewildered by the bombing of the Malaysian security forces.

    But the rajah muda recalled that Kampung Tanduo, where the bombs were dropped, used to be his group’s camp, but they abandoned this after Friday’s fighting.

    This could be the reason Malaysian bombers dropped two bombs in the area, not knowing that Malaysian security forces are now occupying the camp.

    Idjirani described this as a “divine intervention.”

    “If the bombs were from Malaysia that is divine intervention. It shows that our only support is from divine intervention,” he said.

    At least two fighter jets roared over the standoff site from early morning, launching an air bombardment, a Malaysian reporter positioned about 20 kilometers away told AFP by phone.

    “There was a series of explosions in Tanduo. Intense bombing lasted for about half an hour,” followed by a series of sporadic blasts, he said, asking not to be named.

    An AFP reporter at a police roadblock about 30 kilometres from the assault saw heavy military helicopters flying toward Tanduo. Six ambulances also were seen speeding toward the site.

    Three military trucks filled with dozens of soldiers also moved in the direction of Tanduo, located amid vast oil palm plantations.

    Despite being ranged against Malaysia’s armed forces, air, naval, and foot soldiers, with tanks and fighter planes, the rajah muda remains defiant and vows to fight on.

    “You know it, whatever they do, we are not afraid because we are fighting for our right,” said the rajah muda. The right of the Bangsa Suluk and the Filipino in general, if the Philippine government considers us Filipinos, is what we’re fighting for, he said.

    He reiterated that he and his men will not start a fight.

    “If they start, we will defend ourselves. If not, we will not move,” the rajah muda, leader of the originally 235 members of the Royal Security Force (RSF), said. Now down to just 215 men.

    The group ventured on a “journey home” to Sabah on Feb. 11 and arrived a day later in Lahad Datu to settle and live peacefully in their “ancestral home.”

    The raja muda also confirmed they are holding captives – four Malaysian officers.

    He added that he is open to returning to the Philippines on condition there will be no betrayal during the negotiations.

    “We will go home if there is no betrayal,” he said, adding their rights (over Sabah) must be preserved.

    The raja muda also appealed to the “Bangsa Suluk” (Tausug Nation) and the Filipinos in general to help them, saying this is the time for them unite behind them.

    He added that he and his men have no problem with food, saying “we are used to (surviving) wherever."

    However, he appealed to the United Nations to send a medical team to Lahad Datu to attend to his wounded men and well as to bring food supplies.

    With the Malaysian air strikes and mortar attacks against the Filipino armed men in Sabah, the Philippine government yesterday said it has no shortcomings and actually “did everything to possible” to prevent a violent end to the three-week standoff.

    Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said they have exhausted measures to reach a peaceful solution to the conflict but the followers of the Sulu sultan have ignored government appeals to come home and instead pursued a “path of violence.”

    Eight Malaysian policemen and 20 Filipinos were reportedly killed in the violent clashes since the supporters of Kiram III occupied Sabah last month. The group is led by the rajah muda.

    Asked to comment on former National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales statement that he is the Aquino administration’s “favorite suspect” on the Sabah issue, Lacierda asked: “Guilty siya?” (Is he guilty?)

    “The President never mentioned anybody. He said that I will not name names until I have sufficient evidence,” Lacierda added.

    Misuari Warning

    Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) founding Chairman Nur Misuari visited Kiram III yesterday, his second, and warned of chaos should the sultan be arrested on government’s allegation he violated the Constitution.

    He also practically admitted the presence of MNLF fighters in Sabah, but made it clear he did not order them to join the fighting.

    Misuari strongly denied any hand on the Sabah standoff, saying if he were behind it then he would have sent thousands to the oil-rich island.

    He slammed Aquino for his handling of the Sabah standoff.

    “What he (President) is doing is bad. It is unbecoming of a head of state. I can’t forgive him,” said Misuari.

    He also warned Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak of “consequences” if the sultanate’s followers would be killed.

    “Sabah is our homeland. It is part of our sovereign territory,” said Misuari.

    As this developed, Sen. Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. said the Philippines, as a republic, has a factual, historical claim over Sabah.

    “But whatever else the issue there may be, the Sultan of Sulu and his people are Filipino citizens and, by virtue of that fact, they deserve protection from the government of the Philippines,’’ Marcos said.

    “Pero bago natin pagusapan ang claim, protektahan muna natin ang mga Pilipino. We should talk to the Malaysians to spare the Filipinos from harm or harassment and to resolve this matter peacefully,” he said (Before we discuss the territorial claim, Filipinos must first be protected.)

    “First and foremost, it’s the responsibility of the government to protect its citizens,” he added.

    The brief statement of Marcos on the issue did not touch on whether the administration of President Benigno S. Aquino III handled the Sabah situation well or not.

    Fight For Our Rights

    Yesterday, the Sultanate of Sulu asked President Aquino to abide by the Constitution by protecting “your people and fight for the nation’s territorial rights.”

    Princess Jacel Kiram, daughter of Sultan Jamalul Kiram III, read the statement from the Sultanate of Sulu.

    “Mr. President, as long as Sultan Jamalul Kiram III and Rajah Muda Agbimuddin Kiram are standing by their belief to defend their rights over North Borneo (Sabah), please do not disrespect the integrity of their intentions,” the sultanate’s statement read.

    The President “cannot wash his hands by turning your back on your own people,” it said.

    “We are asking all the Filipino people now to pray for the safety of our Muslim brothers both in Malaysia and the Philippines and to a peaceful resolution of the Sabah issue.”


    Meanwhile, former Senator Ramon Magsaysay Jr. said yesterday that President Aquino may have made a wrong decision in ignoring appeals for him to dialogue with the Kiram III and his family, noting that violence may have been averted had he agreed for talks.

    Asked what advise he would have given Aquino had this been sought by Malacañang before Malaysia decided to attack the over 200 Filipinos holed up in Sabah, Magsaysay said he would have asked the chief executive to talk to Kiram and his family.

    “This is because the issue pertains to ownership problem. Had it been a question of sovereignty, a government-to-government negotiations would have been better and could have averted bloodshed,” said Magsaysay.

    “Sabah issue is very complex. If you read former (Supreme Court) Justice Artemio Panganiban, it is an issue of sovereignty on the part of Malaysia and property on the part of the Filipinos,” the Team PNoy senatorial candidate explained. (With reports from AFP, Genalyn D. Kabiling, Madel S. Namit, Mario B. Casayuran, and Ben R. Rosario)

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Where was Najib at the time?

    It's UNDERSTANDABLE really "HOW" this could happen, as seeing from the WAY Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak REACTED from the very beginning this whole fiasco STARTED, he did NOT take the issue or matter SERIOUSLY by 'immediately' addressing the issue and was still in PENINSULAR MALAYSIA along with Deputy Prime Minister going around CAMPAIGNING & DOING "LAUNCHING" events and still cutting Ribbons, while our NEIGHBOR...the Philippines: President Aquino had made SEVERAL Public Statements from Malacanang Palace concerning this issue in Lahad Datu, Sabah.

    Thus as CHIEF EXECUTIVE of the Government, PM Najib's "BIGGEST" mistake was NOT to ADDRESS this matter/issue of Lahad Datu "IMMEDIATELY"!

    And WHERE was Prime Minister Najib on the 6th of March 2013 while all this was UNROLLING in Sabah?



  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2008

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