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Sabah Conflict

Claim to Sabah an important issue not foolhardy act — family of Sulu Sultan

March 1, 2013 10:00am

Tags: Sulu
“Mr. President, the claim to Sabah is an important issue. Please stop belittling the issue by calling it ‘foolhardy’.”

One of the children of Sultan Jamalul Kiram III and her wife Pangyan Fatima Celia Kiram issued this statement yesterday morning.

Before Dayang Dayang Jacel Kiram read the statement she delivered an adlib. Apparently, she was wondering why the government shows no interest in their case but provides diplomatic assistance to overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who ran afoul of the law abroad.

The family of the Sultan of Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo resented Aquino’s calling the Sabah standoff a “foolhardy act.”

“As President and chief executor of our laws, I have tasked an investigation into possible violations of laws by you, your followers, and collaborators engaged in this foolhardy act,” President Benigno S. Aquino III said when he “appealed” on Feb. 26 to Sultan Kiram III to ask his people to come back to the Philippines.

Rajah Muda Agbimuddin Kiram and 235 of his followers are still holding fort in Kampung (Village) Tanduao, Lahad Datu, Sabah, Malaysia, since Feb. 12 in what he said was a peaceful journey to live in their home place.

“We want our rights return to us,” he said, referring to the claim of the Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo over the oil-rich island.

“I think it is not unlawful, it is not a crime,” he said, after being asked about their violations of the law.

As of yesterday morning, the rajah muda (crown prince) said they still have no intention to leave and go back to Tawi-Tawi, the country’s nearest point via Simunul municipality to the disputed Sabah island.

The sultanate is trying to establish their “ancestral right” on the island after a succession of administrations did not lift its hand on the Sabah claim.

After two weeks of the standoff at the seaside place of Lahad Datu, the President made the “appeal” as he issued a threat of arrest for possibly violating the Constitution.

Kiram III, apparently still smarting from what could be a public presidential scolding, responded formally yesterday.

He had three questions for the President.

1. Why are you calling it foolhardy? Is it foolhardy to defend the patrimony of your nation?

2. Is it foolhardy to fight for what is right?

3. Is it foolhardy to sacrifice the lives of 235 people for the sake of the truth?

He said the sacrifice being made “to uphold the truth and fight for your right” over North Borneo did not threaten the government.

The sultan explained the sultanate’s initiative, saying it acted “unilaterally” in establishing home and claiming its right to prevent from prejudicing the peace process being pursued by the government.

He was obviously referring to the negotiation between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).


Kiram III also had some words for Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas, asking him if he has become Malaysia’s “spokesman” for saying that “Malaysia will not talk to us.”

“Is it hard for the Philippines and Malaysia to sit down and talk to us and settle this issue amicably?” he asked.

He lamented the government’s move to air their views through media instead of talking to them officially.

“It seems that there is fear to talk to us officially. Why?” he added.

The sultan did not spare Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, asking her to stop “insulting” the sultanate’s sacrifice with the statement “kaya kaming sulsulan” (we can be instigated).

Kiram III reiterated the readiness of rajah muda and his 235 royal security forces to sacrifice their lives to have a peaceful life “in our homeland.”

At the end of sultan’s one-page statement he made a pledge by the Muslim Holy Book (Qur’an).

“This aspiration to fight for what is rightfully ours, legally and historically, is a unilateral act of the Sultanate of Sulu. This I pledge in the name of the Almighty Allah,” he said. - Philippine News


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