We won’t leave Sabah, says Kiram

A+
A
A-

Sultan of Sulu Jamalul Kiram talks to reporters during a news conference in Alabang, south of Manila, Philippines on Sunday, Feb. 17, 2013. His followers who crossed to the Malaysian state of Sabah this month will not leave and are reclaiming the area as their ancestral territory, the sultan said Sunday, Feb. 17, 2013, amid a tense standoff. AP PHOTO/AARON FAVILA

MANILA, Philippines—Followers of a Philippine sultan who crossed to the Malaysian state of Sabah this month will not leave and are reclaiming the area as their ancestral territory, the sultan said Sunday amid a tense standoff.

Sultan Jamalul Kiram said his followers—some 400 people including 20 gunmen—were resolute in staying despite being cornered by security forces, with the Kuala Lumpur government insisting the group return to the Philippines.

“Why should we leave our own home? In fact they (the Malaysians) are paying rent (to us),” he told reporters in Manila.

“Our followers will stay in (the Sabah town of) Lahad Datu. Nobody will be sent to the Philippines. Sabah is our home,” he said.

The sultan did not directly threaten violence but said “there will be no turning back for us.”

Malaysian officials have said that many in the group have weapons, but Kiram insisted his followers made the trip unarmed.

“If they have arms, they were already in Sabah,” the sultan said.

The southern Philippine-based Islamic sultanate once controlled parts of Borneo, including the site of the stand-off, and its heirs have been receiving a nominal yearly compensation package from Malaysia under a long-standing agreement for possession of Sabah.

Kiram said he was prompted to send the group to Sabah after the sultanate was left out of a framework agreement sealed in October between Manila and Filipino Muslim rebels, which paves the way for an autonomous area in the southern Philippines that is home to the Muslim minority of the largely Christian nation.

The sultanate’s spokesman, Abraham Idjirani, later said the sultan’s brother Raja Muda Abimuddin Kiram, who led the group to Sabah, had told him via telephone that the party was preparing to stay.

“The objective is to reside now in that place permanently, considering the sultanate owns Sabah by rights of sovereignty,” he told AFP.

Idjirani said there were about 400 followers of the sultanate in the area, including about 20 who were armed.

On Thursday Malaysian Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein put the number at between 80 to 100 gunmen.

Idjirani said the group would not instigate violence but would resist if provoked.

“We recognize the capability of Malaysia. We don’t have the arms and capacity but we have the historical truth,” he said, adding that the group’s “fate is to see the recognition they are entitled to… or they die defending their ancestral rights.”

Idjirani said President Benigno Aquino’s senior aides had been in contact with the sultan and were willing to deliver a letter to the Malaysian government on his behalf for negotiations.

Disclaimer: The comments uploaded on this site do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of management and owner of INQUIRER.net. We reserve the right to exclude comments that we deem to be inconsistent with our editorial standards.

  • DakuAkongUtin

    Oil was already found in Sabah long before 1963 . The Brits already knew its a matter of time oil will be drilled. The Malayo elites wanted to retain Sabah so when the time came for Britain to leave Sabah, they handed it to the Malayos who wanted to keep it to themselves.  

  • nivrams

    Love in the Manila air for Kiram. Make him your Sultan of Phillipines already. Then you can claim Sabah.

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

    SULU IS VERY POOR PLACE TO MUCH CHILDREN IS NOT GOOD TO ECONOMY LOOK MALAYSIA EVERY CHILDREN HAVE A FOOD PHILIPPINES IS NO PLANING TO THE BIG PAPULATION THE NO1 RADICAL IS A CATHOLIC CHURCH THEY DONT WANT FAMILY PLANING THEY WANT PLANTING! RADICAL BISHOPS!

  • http://joboni96.myopenid.com/ joboni96

    go sultan kiram

    1. malaysia to increase to $10 million per year rent
    to be used both sides of the border

    2. bangsa moro to support the sultanate

    3. sovereignty issue to be set aside in the meantime
    in exchange for the commercial transaction in no. 1

    4. philippine government gives the sultanate
    power to negotiate but
    concurrence power is reserved

    5. money in no.1 will be used for development
    led and managed by the sultanate

    6. brunei as mediator

To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.

Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:

c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City,Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94