In the Know: PH claim to Sabah ‘dormant’ but KL pays annual rent
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
Get Inquirer updates while on the go, add us on these apps:
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.
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