LAHAD DATU—Sabah Police Commissioner Hamza Taib has dismissed reports that some of the armed Filipinos had slipped past a tight security cordon mounted by a combined force of Malaysian police and military personnel.
“We know where they are and they are surrounded,” Hamza said on Sunday, adding that police were continuing their preparations for the deportation of the group holed up in a seaside village.
He said the group had agreed to go back on condition that its representatives were allowed to meet with certain Malaysian personalities.
Hamza said the group was also seeking recognition as the Royal Sultanate of Sulu Army, in addition to a promise that there would be no deportation of the Sulu community, which had been in Sabah for a long time, as a result of an ongoing Royal Commission of Inquiry on the state’s illegal immigrant problem.
All the demands were rejected, he said.
“We have told them this was the wrong platform and they will have to go back,” Hamza added.
Asked about the growing number of Malaysians who have expressed irritation about the situation through various online social network sites, he said: “We have to look at this from various perspectives.
“We are dealing with human beings. They are not militants and they came because of certain demands. If they come here as militants such as the Abu Sayyaf Group, our approach would have been different.
“Most of the people from southern Philippines are also related to the people in Sabah,” he said.
On Philippine media reports quoting Sultan Jamalul Kiram III as telling his brother, Rajah Mudah Agbimuddin Kiram, to stay put at Kampung Tanduo, Hamza said “that was his personal opinion.”
He noted that while Kiram was recognized by the Philippine government as sultan of Sulu, the people of Sulu crowned Jamalul’s kin, Ismail Kiram, as their sultan.—Ruben Sario, The Star/Asia News Network