Sulu Sultans designate former governor as Special Envoy
SULU – The Royal Council of the Sulu Sultanate has designated former governor and philanthropist Dr Sakur Tan as Special Envoy after being conferred as “Datu’ Shahbandar” in a historic event attended by some 3,000 people here.
The affair, held recently at the Patikul Gymnasium, was led by all legitimate sultans of Sulu and witnessed by Muslim religious leaders led by Grand Mufti, His Eminence Abdulbaqi Abubakar, and the different Ulama, among other dignitaries.
The Royal Council of the Sulu Sultanate is composed of Sultans Ibrahim Bahjin, Muedzul-lail Tan Kiram, Mohammad Venizar Julkarnain Jainal Abirin, Muizuddin Jainal Abirin Bahjin and Phugdalun Kiram II.
The Sultans also granted authority to Dr Tan to present the Royal Council of the Sulu Sultanate in negotiating and transacting business with foreign or local entities and to do the following acts – initiate negotiations with local and foreign entities for the exploration and development of the resources in areas of the Sulu Sultanate; negotiate with foreign and local entities identified by the Royal Council of the Sulu Sultanate; and assist and support the Royal Council of the Sulu Sultanate in its activities involving any and all organizations or entities engaged in the above transactions provided that the exercise of authority granted to Dr Tan be under the terms and condition that maybe prescribed by the Royal Council of the Sulu Sultanate.
They also said that be assisted by representatives of the Sultans in every endeavour relating to the authority granted Dr Tan. And that upon the conclusion of any negotiation, a final draft of the resulting agreement or contract shall be submitted to the Royal Council of the Sulu Sultanate for approval.
The Royal Council of the Sulu Sultanate said the grant of authority to Dr Tan shall remain in force for 10 years.
The Sultans, in choosing Dr Tan as Special Envoy, said the former governor played a very important role in unifying the heirs to the throne of the Sulu Sultanate.
“He (Dr Tan) is the choice of all of us. He has good and strong political voice and he’s got the respect of international people like Malaysia and the rest of the international community,” Sultan Bahjin told the regional newspaper Mindanao Examiner.
He said the Royal Council of the Sulu Sultanate will adapt a peaceful negotiation with Malaysia as far as the Sabah claims are concerned.
“We don’t egg for a violent clamour or whatever. We’ll go for a peaceful negotiation of all this matter, peaceful resolution. Claiming back sovereignty takes a long process, but we are now egging for the proprietary rights of the territory. This is a prelude to all this because this requires very large and very tedious political matter,” Sultan Bahjin said.
For his part, Dr Tan said: “Naririto tayo hindi upang maghanap ng problema kundi maghanap ng solusyon at para sa kapakanan ng buong bayan ng Sulu, ng Tausug kasama ang mga island provinces.”
In April this year, for the first time in the rich history of the Sultanate of Sulu, the five influential sultans have signed a covenant in an unprecedented move aimed at consolidating and strengthening their unity.
The signing ceremony held in Zamboanga City brought them together and they formed the Royal Council of the Sulu Sultanate. The covenant was also witnessed by the Grand Mufti Abdulbaqi Abubakar and attended by hundreds of supporters and members of the different Royal Houses of the Sultanate of Sulu, and religious leaders and representatives of various sectors not only in the province, but in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao to which Sulu belongs.
Dr Tan, who is a key figure in the unification of the sultans, said the signing of the covenant was unprecedented and historical and will further strengthen the unity of all heirs to the throne of the Sultanate of Sulu. He commissioned many respected Muslim scholars and educators from the University of the Philippines to help in crafting the unity covenant.
Lawyer Mehol Sadain, who previously headed the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos, was also among those who helped Dr Tan in the historic endeavor.
The Sultans also thanked Dr Tan – who is strongly advocating the revival of Sultanate of Sulu and promoting the rich and colorful tradition and culture of the Tausug people - for his efforts in unifying the Royal Houses of the Sultanate of Sulu.
The Sultanate of Sulu was founded in 1457 and is believed to exist as a sovereign nation for at least 442 years. It stretches from a part of the island of Mindanao in the east, to Sabah, in the west and south, and to Palawan, in the north.
It continues to lay claim to North Borneo, now Sabah in Malaysia after obtaining it from Brunei as a gift for helping put down a rebellion on Borneo Island. The British leased Sabah and transferred control over the territory to Malaysia after the end of World War II. But the sultanate said it had merely leased North Borneo in 1878 to the British North Borneo Company for an annual payment of 5,000 Malayan dollars then, which was increased to 5,300 Malayan dollars in 1903.
North Borneo was annexed by Malaysia in 1963 after a referendum organized by the Cobbold Commission in 1962 saw the people of Sabah voting overwhelmingly to join Malaysia, but Kuala Lumpur continues paying the Sulu Sultanate some 5,300 ringgits a year on the basis of the Sulu royals’ ceding the Borneo state.
In February 2013, the ailing Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III, sent about 200 followers headed by his brother Raja Muda Agbimuddin Kiram to Sabah to assert their claim to and supposed historical rights over the oil-rich state.
Sultan Jamalul’s group rejected Malaysian demand for them to surrender peacefully and fighting erupted in Lahad Datu town where more than 60 of the sultan’s men were killed and over 300 Filipinos arrested on suspicion that they were aiding the group of Raja Muda Agbimuddin.
Malaysia also put Jamalul and his brother on its wanted list and branded them as terrorists for intruding into Sabah and killing and decapitating 10 policemen and soldiers in separate clashes on the island. Rajah Agbimuddin managed to escape the Malaysian assault in Sabah while Sultan Jamalul died in October 2013 from a lingering illness at age 75. Rajah Agbimuddin died from cardiac arrest in 2015 in Tawi-tawi province in southern Philippines.
The Royal Council of the Sulu Sultanate composed of Sultans Ibrahim Bahjin, Muedzul-lail Tan Kiram, Mohammad Venizar Julkarnain Jainal Abirin, Muizuddin Jainal Abirin Bahjin and Phugdalun Kiram II with newly designated Special Envoy, Dr Sakur Tan now Datu Shahbandar during his conferment on November 30, 2016 in Sulu province in southern Philippines.
Scenes from the conferment and designation of former Sulu Governor Sakur Tan now Datu’ Shahbandar as Special Envoy by the Royal Council of the Sulu Sultanate on November 30, 2016 in Patikul town in Sulu province.