SABAH STILL IN­VOLVED IN TER­RI­TO­RIAL ROW

China Daily (Canada) - - WORLD -

SABAH DIS­PUTE

The ter­ri­to­rial dis­pute be­tween Malaysia and the Philip­pines is over much of the east­ern part of the state of Sabah, a ter­ri­tory known as North Bor­neo be­fore the for­ma­tion of Malaysia in 1963. The Philip­pines, pre­sent­ing it­self as the suc­ces­sor state of the Sul­tanate of Sulu, re­tains a “dor­mant claim” on Sabah on the ba­sis that the ter­ri­tory was only leased to the Bri­tish North Bor­neo Co in 1878, with the sovereignty of the sul­tanate over the ter­ri­tory never hav­ing been re­lin­quished.

How­ever, Malaysia con­sid­ers this dis­pute a “non­is­sue” as it in­ter­prets the 1878 agree­ment as that of ces­sion, and it deems that the res­i­dents of Sabah ex­er­cised their right of self­de­ter­mi­na­tion when they voted to join Malaysia.

THE CASES IN SABAH

In re­cent years, Sabah has ex­pe­ri­enced sev­eral at­tacks from anti-govern­ment groups. Lo­cal po­lice blamed Abu Sayyaf — one of sev­eral mil­i­tant Is­lamist sep­a­ratist groups based in and around the south­ern Philip­pines.

The group may have re­ceived fund­ing from alQaida in the early 1990s through Mo­ham­mad Ja­mal Khal­ifa, a brother-in-law of Osama bin Laden. AlQaida-af­fil­i­ated top ter­ror­ist Ramzi Yousef op­er­ated in the Philip­pines in the mid1990s and trained Abu Sayyaf soldiers. The 2002 edi­tion of the US State Depart­ment’s Pat­terns of Global Ter­ror­ism men­tions links to al-Qaida.

On May 3, 2000, Abu Sayyaf gueril­las oc­cu­pied the Malaysian div­ing re­sort is­land of Si­padan and took 21 hostages, in­clud­ing 10 tourists and 11 re­sort work­ers — 19 nonFilipino na­tion­als in to­tal. The hostages were taken to an Abu Sayyaf base in Jolo, Sulu.

In 2010, two Chi­nese Malaysians were ab­ducted in Sabah by Abu Sayyaf mil­i­tants and taken to the Philip­pines.

In Fe­bru­ary 2013, a group of armed men claim­ing to have been sent by the Sul­tan of Sulu landed in Sabah, and sev­eral armed clashes oc­curred with Malaysian po­lice. At least 67 Sulu forces were killed, in­clud­ing two civil­ians and nine Malaysian forces. TAI­WAN MAN KILLED

A busi­ness­man from Taipei was shot dead by sus­pected Abu Sayyaf ter­ror­ists on Pom Pom Is­land off Sem­porna in Novem­ber, and his wife was ab­ducted.

Ini­tial re­ports in­di­cated a group of heav­ily armed men ar­rived at the Pom Pom Is­land Re­sort on Nov 15.

The gun­men stormed into a restau­rant where the Chi­nese cou­ple were the only cus­tomers and fired sev­eral shots.

The vic­tim, Lim Min Hsu, 57, was shot twice in the chest and ribs, and he died at the scene. His 56-yearold wife, An Wei Chang, was taken away by the gun­men.

The gun­men, who au­thor­i­ties sus­pect were Abu Sayyaf ter­ror­ists, fled in a boat to the south­ern Philip­pines. The restau­rant su­per­vi­sor, known only as Leonardo, heard the gun­shots and rushed to the Gen­eral Op­er­a­tions Force camp about 1 km from the is­land to re­port the in­ci­dent.

When po­lice ar­rived at the restau­rant, they found Lim’s body. Ta­bles and chairs were scat­tered all over the place.

Au­thor­i­ties also re­ported that the gun­men had ran­sacked sev­eral of the vil­las at the re­sort.

The wife was re­leased one month later in the south­ern Philip­pines. Au­thor­i­ties did not say whether a ran­som was paid.

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