‘Sabah is not Malaysia’
‘Is Malaysia supporting terrorism in Mindanao?’
FOREIGN AFFAIRS Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr said Sabah – which is being claimed by the Sultanate of Sulu – is not Malaysia. Locsin, in a Twitter post, said: “Sabah is not in Malaysia if you want to have anything to do with the Philippines.” His tweet was in response to the U.S. Embassy in the Manila’s tweet on their donation of hygiene kits to the deported Filipinos from Sabah
who arrived in Tawi-tawi province and Zamboanga City recently.
The U.S. Embassy said: “USAID donated 500 hygiene kits to the @ dswdserves Region IX for the 395 returning Filipino repatriates from Sabah, Malaysia who arrived in Zamboanga City and Bongao, Tawi-tawi.”
Malaysian Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein described Locsin’s tweet as irresponsible. “This is an irresponsible statement that affects bilateral ties (between Malaysia and the Philippines. I) will summon the Philippines Ambassador (Charles Jose) to explain. Sabah is, and will always be, part of Malaysia,” Hussein said in his Twitter account.
Locsin said until now the U.S. Embassy has not taken down its tweet. “It started with a US Embassy tweet that hasn’t been taken down. When the country united around (Philippine President Ferdinand) Marcos, including his critics, the US discouraged an attempt on our part to concretely assert our claim. The US didn’t want us to add to their growing problem in Vietnam. History,” he said, referring to the Philippines’ claim of Sabah.
Marcos said the Philippines “acquired sovereignty and dominion over the territory of Sabah in accordance with a series of events, acts, agreements and transactions, including the Deed of Cession from the Sultan of Sulu of 1962 to the Philippines.”
“I also wish to say that the Philippines will pursue its right to Sabah by peaceful means in accordance with the provisions of its Constitution, our Constitution, which renounces war as an instrument of national policy, and that our country is also committed to the principles of the United Nations binding member states to the pacific settlement of international disputes,” he said.
Sultanate of Sulu
The Sultanate of Sulu continues to lay claim to Sabah which it obtained 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.
The Sulu 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.
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.
North Borneo was annexed by Malaysia in 1963 following a referendum organised by the Cobbold Commission in 1962, the people of Sabah voted overwhelmingly to join Malaysia.
Former Senator JV Ejercito said he is supporting Locsin’s statement on Sabah. “I support Sec. Teddy Locsin on his statement regarding Sabah. It may anger the Malaysians, but Sabah historically belongs rightfully to the Philippines,” he said.
Ejercito also alleges that Sabah or Malaysia is secretly supporting terrorists in the South. “They also are allegedly secretly supporting the terrorists in the South. I suspect that a lot of funding and arms of these bandits coursed through Malaysia. So that the Philippine government will have its hands full to even think about the Sabah issue,” he said in a tweet to Locsin.
No More Cession Money
Hussein recently said that Malaysia has stopped paying cession money to the heirs of the Sultanate of Sulu and that Kuala Lumpur made an understanding with the Philippines that the claim by the Sultanate of Sulu over the mineral-rich state of Sabah will not be raised at any regional or international platform.
He said Malaysia also did not recognise and entertain any claim by any party over Sabah, as the state had been recognised as being part of Malaysia by the United Nations, as well as the international community.
“Malaysia and the Philippines have an understanding that the claim over Sabah will not be raised at any regional or international platform,” he said, adding, they also stopped paying annual cession money of RM5,300 (about P61,300) through lawyers representing the nine heirs of the Sulu Sultanate since 2013.
He said the payments were made based on a treaty signed on January 22, 1878, between the then Sultan of Sulu, Sultan Jamal Al Alam and Baron de Overbeck and Alfred Dent of the British North Borneo Company. “Apart from the payments to the heirs of the Sulu Sultanate, Malaysia has never made any payment to the Philippine government,” Hussein said in a written reply to Chang Foon Hin (Ph-kota Kinabalu), uploaded on the Parliament website, according to a report by Bernama.
It said Chang wanted to know if the Malaysian government planned to stop paying the cession money to the Sulu Sultanate through the Philippine government as a measure to end foreign interference in Malaysia’s sovereignty, and instead utilise the money to solve the issue of illegal Filipino immigrants entering Sabah, just several hours by boat from the Philippine province of Tawi-tawi. “Until now, the claim on Sabah has only been raised by those who claim to be descendants of the Sulu Sultanate,” he said. But Sulu Governor Sakur Tan (also called Datu Shabandar), who is also the Special Envoy of the Royal Council of the Sulu Sultanate, said the cession money that Malaysia pays annually to the heirs of the Sultan of Sulu was insulting. “The amount is insulting anyway, you can never change history,” he said.
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.
Even Nur Misuari, chieftain of the Moro National Liberation Front, previously said that what Malaysia pays to the Sultanate of Sulu (and North Borneo) is but a pittance.
Manila has not abandoned its claim on Sabah, according to then President Rodrigo Duterte’s spokesman and now Chief Legal Counsel, Salvador Panelo.
Panelo reiterated Duterte’s position that he would pursue the Philippines’ claim to Sabah. “The position of the President, meron tayong claim. Eh totoo namang may claim tayo di ba? That has been a bone of contention ever since,” he said.
The influential 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 their Special Envoy, Dr Sakur Tan also called Datu Shahbandar.
JV Ejercito (FB page)