Mystery standoff continues

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THE ONCE FEUDING ROYALS UNITE The heirs of the Sultan of Sulu: (seated from left) Rajah Mudah Agbimuddin Kiram, Sultan Jamalul Kiram III, Sultan Bantilan Esmail Kiram II and (standing from left) Datu Alianapia Kiram, Datu Phugdal Kiram and Datu Baduruddin Kiram. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

CENDERAWASIH, Lahad Datu, Sabah—The standoff continues between Malaysian authorities and an armed group of 100 Filipinos claiming to be members of the royal armed forces of the Sultanate of Sulu, authorities said.

The standoff with the armed men from Mindanao has sparked one of the biggest security scares in recent years in eastern Sabah state, which is less than an hour by speedboat from the southern Philippine provinces.

The armed group is forcing out villagers from Tanduao village, demanding that they should not be expelled from Sabah, an area that the Philippines, on behalf of the heirs of the Sultanate of Sulu, has been trying to reclaim from Malaysia.

Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein told reporters on Thursday the gunmen had been cornered by security forces near the small coastal town of Lahad Datu.

The area was once controlled by the former Islamic sultanate of Sulu and has a history of incursions by armed Filipino Muslim groups.

He said security forces were in control and negotiating with the group, some of whom were armed with an assortment of weapons.

 

‘Royal army’

Malaysia’s national police chief Ismail Omar was quoted as saying the militants had declared themselves followers of “a descendant of the Sultan of Sulu.”

Ismail, quoted on the website of The Star newspaper, said the group demanded to be recognized as the “Royal Sulu Sultanate Army” and insisted that as subjects of the sultanate, they should be allowed to remain in Sabah.

“They have made known their demands while we have told them that they need to leave the country,” the police chief was quoted as saying, adding that negotiations with the group were still under way.

The demands were made during negotiations over the past 48 hours with emissaries who had asked the group to surrender and leave the area peacefully.

The Star said that the emissaries were given until noon on Friday to resolve the standoff but the gunmen insisted they would only leave the village if their demands are met.

They had also purportedly raised the Philippine flag in the area.

Prince arrested

Among the 70 Tausug men rounded up by Malaysian authorities as they were trying to land in Sabah on Tuesday was the crown prince of the Sultanate of Sulu, according to a ranking official of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).

Habib Mudjahab Hashim, chair of the MNLF’s Islamic Council Committee based in Sulu, said on Friday that from reports his group had received from Lahad Datu, Pong Kiram was among those arrested.

Kiram is the younger brother of Sulu Sultan Esmail Kiram, Hashim said.

Malaysian authorities reported earlier that Malaysian border patrol rounded up the Tausug men on suspicion that they were terrorists.

Lt. Gen. Rey Ardo, commander of the military in Western Mindanao, said that from information he had received, Kiram went to Sabah to demand the release of the rent that Kuala Lumpur used to pay for its use of the territory, which is part of the domain of the Sultanate of Sulu.

“They might have been mistaken for Abu Sayyaf bandits,” Ardo said.

But a military officer who spoke to the Inquirer on condition of anonymity because he had no authority to speak on the matter said it was not clear how the Malaysians could have mistaken Kiram’s group for terrorists, as there were no confirmed reports that the Tausug men were armed.

Hashim said no MNLF member joined Kiram’s trip to Sabah.

Ardo said the arrest of the group was a matter between the Sultanate of Sulu and Kuala Lumpur and the military was cautious about talking about it to avoid diplomatic complications.

Neighbor of Sulu

Prof. Octavio Dinampo of Mindanao State University in Sulu said that even if the Sultanate of Sulu appears to have become obscure to non-Tausugs, it still commands authority and respect among the people of Sulu.

He said the sultanate still maintains “royal forces.”

Dinampo also said that Sabah is like a neighbor to Sulu, as Tausugs regularly go there using motorboats and wooden-hulled vessels.

“Going to Sabah was never difficult for Tausugs due to its proximity to Sulu,” he said, adding that oftentimes Malaysian authorities would round them up for illegal entry.

The landing

According to local villagers in Tanduao, one group of gunmen had arrived in three boats mounted with machine guns and landed in Silabukan while another landed in Sungei Merah close to Tanduao last week.

Police were then notified about the presence of the gunmen.

Some villagers had also claimed that one group of about 30 men armed with M16 rifles had entered Tanduao in Felda Sahabat 20 scheme and converged at the home of a man known as Ahmad Bom or Mat Bomb.

The villagers, who declined to give their names for fear of reprisal, said that most of the gunmen were in military fatigues while others were in robes when they entered Tanduao.

According to them, Ahmad was arrested by the police in the early 1990s for allegedly attempting to throw a fish bomb at the Felda office here after failing to settle a land dispute, thus earning him the nickname.

He was also accused of being involved in fish bombing but was never charged.

The villagers claimed that Ahmad’s son had gone to Bongao in the nearby province of Tawi-Tawi in Mindanao recently to seek help from the armed men to claim back his family’s ancestral land within the Felda Sahabat scheme.

 

Regional power

The Sulu sultanate, first founded in the 1400s, was once a regional power center, controlling islands in the Muslim southern Philippines and parts of Borneo, including Sabah, until its demise a century ago.

Much of the eastern part of Sabah is being claimed by the Philippines as part of the Sultanate of Sulu that was leased to the British North Borneo Company in 1878. Great Britain transferred Sabah to Malaysia in 1963, which according to the Sultanate of Sulu was a violation of the Sabah Lease of 1878.

Department of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Raul Hernandez has said Manila was in touch with Malaysia over the case. AFP, The Star-Asia News Network, with reports from Julie Alipala, Inquirer Mindanao, Inquirer.net and AP

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  • SabahForever

    LET THE PEOPLE OF SABAH DECIDE.

    Sabah does not belong to the Sultanate of Sulu. Sabah belongs to SABAHAN NATIVES, which consist of many different races and religious background; including kadazan-dusun-muruts, chinese, sabahan-suluk, sabahan-bajau, sabahan-tausug, and many others, you know, THE PEOPLE WHO ACTUALLY LIVE HERE AND DEVELOP THIS LAND, BUT NOT THOSE ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS FROM SOUTH PHILIPPINES.

    Oh, and these natives, my ancestors, has been living in Sabah since BEFORE THERE IS ANY SULU SULTANATE.

    The Sabahans has the right of self-determination (United Nations Charter), based on respect for the principle of equal rights and fair equality of opportunity have the right to freely choose their sovereignty and international political status with no external compulsion or interference. It is HIGHLY UNLIKELY they will give in to some foreigner from the South Philippines.

    Oh and also, the International Court of Justice view that : “The point of law is quite simple, but ultimately basic to the international rule of law. It is this: historic title, no matter how persuasively claimed on the basis of old legal instruments and exercises of authority, cannot – except in the most extraordinary circumstances – prevail in law over the rights of non-self-governing people to claim independence and establish their sovereignty through the exercise of bona fide self-determination.”

    Oh and the yearly so-called ‘rental’ payment? That’s just a ‘token of respect’ for the sultan stupidity of selling us out to the British.

    Where were these ‘Sultans’ when Japan occupied North Borneo? Where were they when British and Australian soldiers fought the communist threat and Japanese occupation in North Borneo post WW2, FOR US SABAHANS?

    These so called ‘Sultans’ never gave anything to Sabah development or even fought for our independence, they NEVER did anything for us, oh, i remember ONE thing they did.. THEY SOLD US OUT TO THE BRITISH. To the ‘sultan’ of sulu, STOP INSULTING THE PEOPLE OF SABAH. WE MADE OUR CHOICE IN 1963. The fact that they claim Sabah as theirs is AN INSULT TO SABAHAN.

    Say what you want, but the sabahans will NEVER bow down to this illegal and defunct sultanate.

    Only the people of Sabah has the right to OWN Sabah.

    Oh, and we OWN this land. 

    Keep ON dreaming, ignorant, disinformed, pinoy keyboard warriors.

    • CommonSens6

       So why does Malaysia refuse to go take this matter up to the ICJ as what the Philippines is demanding. Is Malaysia afraid of a real possibility she could lose in the UN court? The Cobbold Commission Enquiry in 1962 and the subsequent UN sanctioned survey was not only a severely flawed study but concocted by the scheming Brits and mainland Malayo…not that it mattered because it was null and void in the first place.

      Let’s settle this case once and for all. Please ask your government to accept the Philippine challenge to bring this matter to the ICJ.

      Have a great day!

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/VS5EYSP4FPOTVQCJZ24NRE6Z2M Edgardo Mendoza

    pag lumakas ang sandata ng pinas makukuwa natin yan sultan di pa sa ngayon kailangan pa natin ng mga jet submarine at anti air craft missile para tapos sila mapupunta din yan sa pinas pag dating ng panahon kung nag bibingi bingihan ang united nation tayo aaksiyon jan para makuwa ang teretoryo na talaga naman sa pilipinas!

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/NNAD6RIVNYJIMODSQTQLUGEQ4A Chester Carlsen

    The only way for Philippines  to reclaim “Sabah” is to push for a
    constitutional monarchy  or a Federal
    government. This will empower the sultanate of Sulu and their heirs to have
    total control of the region and in turn will give way to lasting peace and the
    governance of the Bangsamoro people in the land. The Muslim region is ruled
    by  a Sultanate, rajahs, datus, princesses…
    not by rogue groups for which  I consider
    (the  MILF, MNLF, Abu Sayaff). The
    powerful MNLF leader Nur Misuari, (MNLF started in 1969, he happens to be a
    TAUSUG, the tribe of the sultanates) even with the full support  of the Philippine government in the past
    administrations, and by his loyal followers, his administration was a failure,
    he cannot unite the region, it was even a disaster because from there, a number
    of lawless groups imitated him, too much corruption, armed insurgence, then
    came the breakaway the  MNLF and much
    worse, the terror sowing bandits –the ABU SAYAFF group. The Muslim region
    doesn’t see leadership in this groups, all they can harness  is 
    division – Their leaders does not belong to the royalty, they are just
    commoners, Even their leaders have high regard to  the heirs of the Sultanate of SULU – what
    they need is their king: 

     “I
    hope they will not harm them. They (Kiram’s followers) are our brothers. If one
    drop of their blood is spilled, we might be forced to come to their aid,”
    Misuari said.   “We do not want bloodshed
    and we want to settle the issue of Sabah peacefully,” he continued, “If the
    Malaysians will harm our brothers, then we will get involved. They are our
    relatives and brothers in arms.”  Look
    here, even the great  Misuari  recognized the “Royal Army of the Sultanate
    of Sulu.”

    This is because in truth, our Moslem
    brothers do not exactly think like us in terms of governance. Again, they are
    ruled by datus, rajahs, princesses and sultans. This is where the Philippine
    government fails to see—blindfolded  in
    dealing with our Moslem brothers.   We
    keep on insisting to them to embrace  our
    Republican system but we fail to see the real culprit, on what works for their
    governance. That even among them they are already  divided into ethnic groups, example the Maranao
    ,T’boli , Badyao, Cuyunon, Bagobo, Yakan, and Tausug  which the majority of sabahans are now . Each
    of these tribes are faithful to their ethnicity.  Most are defined by their clan. This is why
    wether we like it or not there will always be factions, insurgence, chaos in
    that part of land  of Mindanao –unless
    they are ruled by their leader – the Sultanate.

     

    We have actually started the process for
    federalism when “ARMM”  is established as
    well as the likelihood  of the Cordillera
    Autonomous region here in Luzon “CAR”-if this is made why can’t it be in
    Mindanao? What we need is  a national law
    to further strengthen some Philippine areas, Empower the Sultanate acknowledge
    their role in our rich history, it is high time for us to appreciate their  culture, ethnicity and diversity.  It will empower  our moslem people as well as give the local
    autonomy total control of our protected lands. This will be a WIN-WIN situation
    both for the Philippine government and our centuries old problem, Giving back
    to our Moslem brothers and sisters the peace that is long deprived of them…..

    Reality check:

    Back home, The Circus continues.. Election
    time.  P’Noy  supporting his senatorial candidates in a
    divisive campaign. Senate president Enrile 
    distributing allowances in millions. “Pingky Lacson vs  Miriam “the irked” Santiago on the
    misuse of funds. Congress devoid of emotions on “Political dynasty
    bill”  …… “ Every one in the
    room…Quiet Please! Here comes  “ Mandrake
    the Magician….”

    to be continued….

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/NNAD6RIVNYJIMODSQTQLUGEQ4A Chester Carlsen

    The only way for Philippines  to reclaim “Sabah” is to push for a
    constitutional monarchy  or a Federal
    government. This will empower the sultanate of Sulu and their heirs to have
    total control of the region and in turn will give way to lasting peace and the
    governance of the Bangsamoro people in the land. The Muslim region is ruled
    by  a Sultanate, rajahs, datus, princesses…
    not by rogue groups for which  I consider
    (the  MILF, MNLF, Abu Sayaff). The
    powerful MNLF leader Nur Misuari, (MNLF started in 1969, he happens to be a
    TAUSUG, the tribe of the sultanates) even with the full support  of the Philippine government in the past
    administrations, and by his loyal followers, his administration was a failure,
    he cannot unite the region, it was even a disaster because from there, a number
    of lawless groups imitated him, too much corruption, armed insurgence, then
    came the breakaway the  MNLF and much
    worse, the terror sowing bandits –the ABU SAYAFF group. The Muslim region
    doesn’t see leadership in this groups, all they can harness  is 
    division – Their leaders does not belong to the royalty, they are just
    commoners, Even their leaders have high regard to  the heirs of the Sultanate of SULU – what
    they need is their king: 

     “I
    hope they will not harm them. They (Kiram’s followers) are our brothers. If one
    drop of their blood is spilled, we might be forced to come to their aid,”
    Misuari said.   “We do not want bloodshed
    and we want to settle the issue of Sabah peacefully,” he continued, “If the
    Malaysians will harm our brothers, then we will get involved. They are our
    relatives and brothers in arms.”  Look
    here, even the great  Misuari  recognized the “Royal Army of the Sultanate
    of Sulu.”

    This is because in truth, our Moslem
    brothers do not exactly think like us in terms of governance. Again, they are
    ruled by datus, rajahs, princesses and sultans. This is where the Philippine
    government fails to see—blindfolded  in
    dealing with our Moslem brothers.   We
    keep on insisting to them to embrace  our
    Republican system but we fail to see the real culprit, on what works for their
    governance. That even among them they are already  divided into ethnic groups, example the Maranao
    ,T’boli , Badyao, Cuyunon, Bagobo, Yakan, and Tausug  which the majority of sabahans are now . Each
    of these tribes are faithful to their ethnicity.  Most are defined by their clan. This is why
    wether we like it or not there will always be factions, insurgence, chaos in
    that part of land  of Mindanao –unless
    they are ruled by their leader – the Sultanate.

     

    We have actually started the process for
    federalism when “ARMM”  is established as
    well as the likelihood  of the Cordillera
    Autonomous region here in Luzon “CAR”-if this is made why can’t it be in
    Mindanao? What we need is  a national law
    to further strengthen some Philippine areas, Empower the Sultanate acknowledge
    their role in our rich history, it is high time for us to appreciate their  culture, ethnicity and diversity.  It will empower  our moslem people as well as give the local
    autonomy total control of our protected lands. This will be a WIN-WIN situation
    both for the Philippine government and our centuries old problem, Giving back
    to our Moslem brothers and sisters the peace that is long deprived of them…..

    Reality check:

    Back home, The Circus continues.. Election
    time.  P’Noy  supporting his senatorial candidates in a
    divisive campaign. Senate president Enrile 
    distributing allowances in millions. “Pingky Lacson vs  Miriam “the irked” Santiago on the
    misuse of funds. Congress devoid of emotions on “Political dynasty
    bill”  …… “ Every one in the
    room…Quiet Please! Here comes  “ Mandrake
    the Magician….”

    to be continued….

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/NNAD6RIVNYJIMODSQTQLUGEQ4A Chester Carlsen

    The only way for Philippines  to reclaim “Sabah” is to push for a
    constitutional monarchy  or a Federal
    government. This will empower the sultanate of Sulu and their heirs to have
    total control of the region and in turn will give way to lasting peace and the
    governance of the Bangsamoro people in the land. The Muslim region is ruled
    by  a Sultanate, rajahs, datus, princesses…
    not by rogue groups for which  I consider
    (the  MILF, MNLF, Abu Sayaff). The
    powerful MNLF leader Nur Misuari, (MNLF started in 1969, he happens to be a
    TAUSUG, the tribe of the sultanates) even with the full support  of the Philippine government in the past
    administrations, and by his loyal followers, his administration was a failure,
    he cannot unite the region, it was even a disaster because from there, a number
    of lawless groups imitated him, too much corruption, armed insurgence, then
    came the breakaway the  MNLF and much
    worse, the terror sowing bandits –the ABU SAYAFF group. The Muslim region
    doesn’t see leadership in this groups, all they can harness  is 
    division – Their leaders does not belong to the royalty, they are just
    commoners, Even their leaders have high regard to  the heirs of the Sultanate of SULU – what
    they need is their king: 

     “I
    hope they will not harm them. They (Kiram’s followers) are our brothers. If one
    drop of their blood is spilled, we might be forced to come to their aid,”
    Misuari said.   “We do not want bloodshed
    and we want to settle the issue of Sabah peacefully,” he continued, “If the
    Malaysians will harm our brothers, then we will get involved. They are our
    relatives and brothers in arms.”  Look
    here, even the great  Misuari  recognized the “Royal Army of the Sultanate
    of Sulu.”

    This is because in truth, our Moslem
    brothers do not exactly think like us in terms of governance. Again, they are
    ruled by datus, rajahs, princesses and sultans. This is where the Philippine
    government fails to see—blindfolded  in
    dealing with our Moslem brothers.   We
    keep on insisting to them to embrace  our
    Republican system but we fail to see the real culprit, on what works for their
    governance. That even among them they are already  divided into ethnic groups, example the Maranao
    ,T’boli , Badyao, Cuyunon, Bagobo, Yakan, and Tausug  which the majority of sabahans are now . Each
    of these tribes are faithful to their ethnicity.  Most are defined by their clan. This is why
    wether we like it or not there will always be factions, insurgence, chaos in
    that part of land  of Mindanao –unless
    they are ruled by their leader – the Sultanate.

     

    We have actually started the process for
    federalism when “ARMM”  is established as
    well as the likelihood  of the Cordillera
    Autonomous region here in Luzon “CAR”-if this is made why can’t it be in
    Mindanao? What we need is  a national law
    to further strengthen some Philippine areas, Empower the Sultanate acknowledge
    their role in our rich history, it is high time for us to appreciate their  culture, ethnicity and diversity.  It will empower  our moslem people as well as give the local
    autonomy total control of our protected lands. This will be a WIN-WIN situation
    both for the Philippine government and our centuries old problem, Giving back
    to our Moslem brothers and sisters the peace that is long deprived of them…..

    Reality check:

    Back home, The Circus continues.. Election
    time.  P’Noy  supporting his senatorial candidates in a
    divisive campaign. Senate president Enrile 
    distributing allowances in millions. “Pingky Lacson vs  Miriam “the irked” Santiago on the
    misuse of funds. Congress devoid of emotions on “Political dynasty
    bill”  …… “ Every one in the
    room…Quiet Please! Here comes  “ Mandrake
    the Magician….”

    to be continued….

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