KLUANG, Johor, Malaysia—The Malaysian Ministry of Foreign Affairs will be the government agency to decide on an appeal by the Philippines to extend the deadline for the Sulu royal followers to leave Sabah, the Home Ministry said Saturday.
Home Affairs Minister Hishammuddin Tun Hussein said he was informed by Foreign Affairs Minister Anifah Aman about Manila’s request to give the followers of Sultan Jamalul Kiram III four more days to leave Sabah peacefully as the Filipino heirs to the resource-rich state began to review their position and plan their next move to reclaim the territory formerly known as North Borneo.
Hishammuddin however said that Malaysian police would still conduct operations in a bid to end the standoff with the group, led by his Kiram’s brother, Agbimuddin Kiram.
“The country’s sovereignty and the pride of the people of Sabah must not be taken for granted,” he told reporters.
Malaysia had given the group until Friday to break up camp in Tanduao village in the coastal town of Lahad Datu, Sabah, and go home peacefully or be arrested and deported to the Philippines.
But the sultan’s family announced in a news conference in Manila Friday that Agbimuddin and his group would stay in Sabah until called home.
The Islamic Sultanate of Sulu once controlled parts of Borneo, including the site of the stand-off, as well as southern Philippine islands.
The sultanate leased northern Borneo to the British North Borneo Company in 1878. But in 1963, Great Britain, instead of returning Sabah to the sultanate gave it to Malaysia.
While the sultanate’s authority gradually faded as Western colonial powers exerted their influence over the region, it continued to receive annual lease payments for Sabah. One of the demands of the Sulu royals is increased compensation. With INQUIRER.net, Agence France-Presse