In the Know: PH claim to Sabah ‘dormant’ but KL pays annual rent


A Malaysian policeman maintains a checkpoint on a road leading to an area in Sabah, where hundreds of followers of the Sulu sultan are holed up. In October last year, President Aquino described the territorial dispute with Malaysia over Sabah as “dormant at this point in time.” AFP PHOTO

In October last year, President Aquino described the territorial dispute with Malaysia over Sabah as “dormant at this point in time.”

While the Philippines’ pending claim to Sabah is dormant, the country has never relinquished its claim to Sabah and Kuala Lumpur continues to pay a yearly rent to the heirs of the sultan of Sulu.

The Philippines’ claim to Sabah (formerly North Borneo) is based on the historic ownership of the territory by the hereditary sultans of Sulu.

North Borneo, which used to be under the sultan of Brunei, was ceded to the sultan of Sulu in 1704 after the sultan of Sulu helped quell a rebellion instigated against the sultan of Brunei, according to descendants of Sultan Jamalul Ahlam of the kingdom of Sulu.

Sabah was leased to the British colonizers of what is now Malaysia in the late 19th century. In 1878, Ahlam leased Sabah to the British North Borneo Co. for 5,300 Mexican gold pieces a year. The company religiously remitted payments until 1936, when Sultan Jamalul Kiram II, the 32nd

sultan of Sulu, died.

The British consul in Manila recommended the suspension of payments because President Manuel L. Quezon did not recognize Kiram II’s successor. In 1950, Sultan Punjungan Kiram, crown prince of the sultanate at the time of Kiram II’s death, went to the British consulate in Manila to demand the resumption of payments.

Kiram II’s heirs also filed a case in the Sessions Court of North Borneo, which directed the British company to resume payments. The company complied for several years, but it stopped paying when its rights to Sabah were transferred to the newly established Federation of Malaysia in 1963. The new government assumed the payment but in ringgit.

Every year, the Malaysian Embassy in the Philippines issues a check in the amount of 5,300 ringgit (about P77,000) to the legal counsel of Ahlam’s descendants. Malaysia considers the amount an annual “cession” payment for the disputed state, while the sultan’s descendants consider it “rent.”—Kate Pedroso, Inquirer Research

Source: Inquirer Archives

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  • Albert

    KL makes about 25 billion dollars from oil in Sabah but they pay Philippines 1,600 dollars rent. This is the biggest criminal decision the Philippines ever made in its whole history.
    They probably asked a question.
    “I will give you 1,600 dollars now or 1 billion dollars in a year time.” of course the normal filipino way is I will take the 1,600 right now.

  • Albert

     …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.

    Words straight from the United Nations and the International Court of Justice following a 1963 referendum held for the people, by the people not to be part of the Philippines or Sabah.

    End of story….GO HOME.

  • Edgardo Mendoza

    the rent is like renting small pigery!

  • Vertumnus

    The Philippine’s claim on Sabah isn’t dormant, it downright Comatosed!  So much so that there’s no discernible brain waves or heartbeat.  At this rate, our claim is at death’s door!  

    Another disappointing no-action from our useless government!

  • Darwin

    Pag i-nannex natin yang Sabah, the people in there will revolt as it definitely would be against their will to become Philippine citizens or people of the Sultan-kuno, and the result would be another rebel group in the likes of MILF and MNLF, much bigger. Wag na lang. Let’s make more with less by uniting whole Mindanao and making it prosper even more.

  • joboni96

    ‘ 5,300 Mexican gold pieces a year’

    dito pa lang
    mandaraya na ang malaysia

    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

  • Shooting Star

    u cant just claim a land without enough prove… does he rlly is sultan sulu? does he have the document/evidence stating that he is sultan sulu? besides sabah states now arent recognize any sultan anymore.. malaysia pay the money at the state bank n nobody is receiving it n malaysia can also stop it.. can he show us some of the money he receive by showing us the documents/evidence/resit etc.?

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