MANILA, Philippines—The Sultanate of Sulu is considering seeking the intercession of the US government in pressing its claim to Sabah by invoking a 1915 agreement with the US colonial government in the Philippines.
Abraham Idjirani, spokesperson for the sultan of Sulu, said the sultanate was considering invoking the Kiram-Carpenter Agreement of March 22, 1915.
Under that agreement, signed by US-appointed Governor of Mindanao and Sulu Frank W. Carpenter with the sultan of Sulu relinquished the sultan’s and his heirs’ right to temporal sovereignty, tax collection and arbitration laws.
In exchange, the sultan got an allowance, a piece of land and recognition as religious leader.
The agreement did not cover the territory of North Borneo, which the sultanate had leased to the British North Borneo Company.
Idjirani said that under the agreement, the United States also agreed to give “full protection to the sultan of Sulu should the question of Sabah arise in the future between the sultanate and any foreign authority.”
“We will remind them of their moral obligation. That obligation is not to use violent means but to help find a solution,” Idjirani said.
Princess Jacel Kiram, Sultan Jamalul Kiram III’s daughter, said the ball was now in the court of the Philippine and Malaysian governments.
“We are saddened and dismayed by the treatment of the government of this issue. We are trying our best to understand why we are treated this way, because it’s unacceptable,” she said.
Holding their ground
“We offer the 10 lives that were lost to our dear President and to Secretary Mar Roxas. I hope they do not wait for more people to be killed before they wake up and address the situation properly,” she added, referring to the followers of the sultan who were killed in a clash with Malaysian police in Tanduao village in Lahad Datu town, Sabah, on Friday.
By midnight Friday after hours of discussion, Jamalul decided that his brother Agbimuddin and his remaining 224 followers would hold their ground in Sabah.
“The Sultan came to a decision at midnight, weighing the lives of (224) and his brother and the aspiration that the ancestral land be recognized by Malaysia. The decision is to stay put,” Idjirani said on Saturday morning.
Open to talks
“This is not being stubborn. The sultan is open to talks,” he said, reiterating that only the sultanate could talk about disengagement with the Malaysian Embassy.
Idjirani said Malacañang’s “small window of opportunity” to end the standoff was not acceptable because all the government wanted was Agbimuddin’s group pullout from Sabah, without assurance of negotiations involving the sultanate’s claim to Sabah.