Monday, 25 February 2013

Our Sultan of Sulu and Sabah

WE have been unable to verify if the 200 men (and women?) who have identified themselves as people of the Sultanate of Sulu and “went on an incursion into Sabah” included the Sultan of Sulu himself.

There are many claimants to the throne of the Sultanate of Sulu and Sabah. Through the Sultanate, which handed over his property to the Philippines decades ago, our Republic owns Sabah. But there is only one Philippine-government recognized Sultan.

Is it the Raja Muda, Sultan Muedzul Lail Tan Kiram, who is the proclaimed leader of the group of 200 Sulu people who are now in Sabah’s Lahad Datu village?

According to Wikipedia, the present Sultan of Sulu, who has reigned since 1986 up to the present is “Raja Muda, crowned 2012     He is the eldest son, successor and heir of His Majesty late Sultan Moh. Mahakuttah A. Kiram, Sultan in the State of Sulu and all its districts and dependencies. On 24 May 1974 he was crowned as Raja Muda beside his father in public coronation held in Sulu. This coronation took place under Memo Order 427, which was issued by Her Excellency President Corazon Aquino, President of Philippines.

“Sultan Muedzul Lail Tan Kiram was crowned in a coronation event on the island of Jolo on September 16.”[1986].

But, according to our expert and correspondent in Mindanao, Hajji Julmunir Jannaral, in the time of former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, it was Sultan Fuad Kiram 1st who was officially invited to Malacañang as the Sultan of Sulu during the reception for reception of His Majesty Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei. The latter shook Sultan Fuad Kiram 1st’s hands and acknowledged the Filipino as a distant cousin.

Sabah is indeed Philippine territory, but one that our government has allowed to be made part of the Federation of Malaysia and for which the Malaysian government continues to pay an annual rent of Malaysian ringgit 5,300 (aboutP77,000).

The incursion by 200 persons into Sabah tells some good tidings about Philippine-Malaysian relations, despite the first impression that it is only going to stir up tension and enmity between us and the Malaysian.

Warmth and cordiality

The warmth and cordiality of the two governments can be seen in these passages from the February 15 report on the subject in GMA NEWS TV online:

“Malaysian officials earlier suspected the intruders to be members of a Moro rebel group, but Philippine officials said they were unarmed Filipinos who had been promised land.

On Friday, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said the Malaysian government urged the Filipinos, some of whom were reportedly armed, to leave Lahad Datu village in Sabah peacefully.

In a news release, the DFA said the Malaysian government is negotiating with these Filipinos who have identified themselves as the “royal army” of the Sultanate of Sulu in Mindanao.

The news about the negotiations was relayed by Malaysian Foreign Minister Anifah Aman to Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert F. del Rosario on Friday morning.

Malaysian officials earlier suspected the intruders to be members of a Moro rebel group, but Philippine officials said they were unarmed Filipinos who had been promised land.

The drama on Borneo island has threatened to stir tension between the Southeast Asian neighbors whose ties have been periodically frayed by security and migration problems caused by a porous sea border.”

Meanwhile, our Mindanao Correspondent Al Jacinto’s report, also confirms that the “intrusion” is being handled competently by officials of both Philippine and Malaysian governments.

Jacinto’s writes that “reports said the men are members of the Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), and that some of them were armed, who are active in the campaign to reclaim the Malaysian oil-rich island which is part of the Sultanate.”

Jacinto also disturbingly writes that “The intrusion occurred just as former Malaysian leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, also Pakatan Rakyat de facto leader, proposed that Sabah be granted autonomy.” Anwar Ibrahim, a Rizalian scholar, is known as a stalwart against the ruling UMNO party-led coalition in Malaysia. Now we should not be involved in the domestic politics of Malaysia.

Jacinto also writes that “Sultan Muhammad Fuad Kiram I, the Sultan of Sulu and the Sultan of Sabah, said Malaysia illegally occupied Sabah. “Sabah is still the property and sovereign patrimony of the Sultan of Sulu and the Royal Sultanate of Sulu to this day,’ he said in the website of the Royal Hashemite Sultanate of Sulu which is accessible in this URL” Jacinto notes that “the Sultanate supports a free and independent Sabah.” and “That a free and independent Sabah will be under our reign and our heirs and successors according to law of succession as the Reigning Sultan of Sabah.” he said.

We find two positive things about this admittedly perturbing development.

Asean Economic Community

One, we find here more proof that Philippine and Malaysian officials as well as the police and military [we sent a police attaché to Sabah yesterday) are working harmoniously together. This is important because the Philippines and Malaysia are going to be more intimately bound when the “Asean Economic Community” becomes a reality. That is supposed to happen soon, two years from now, 2015, when economic integration transforms our region into a single market and production base. Wow!

Two, the media reports on the event always mention the recognition that Sabah really belongs to us Filipinos (to the heirs of the Sultan of Sulu from whom the British leased North Borneo, which is now known as Sabah) as evidenced by the Malaysian government paying rent to the Sultanate of Sulu.

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