DIGOS CITY, Philippines–Independent Malaysian online news provider Malaysiakini has claimed that Malaysian journalists covering the Sabah crisis in Lahad Datu were ordered by the Sabah minister on Monday to always refer to the armed followers of the sultan of Sulu as “terrorists.”
This developed as the Tawau district police chief Awang Besar Dullah said pamphlets written in Melayu had started circulating in the district, which urged “a certain race to rise up and cause chaos in Sabah.”
He would not directly say what race was behind the circulation of the pamphlets titled “Raya Hidup Berkuasa (The kingdom reign forever).”
But Awang said the distribution of the “rebellious” pamphlets was certainly related to the intrusion of the Sulu gunmen.
In an article posted on Monday, Malaysiakini said Sabah Chief Minister Musa Aman had “ordered” journalists to stop referring to Jamalul Kiram III as Sultan of Sulu and to refer to his followers involved in the Sabah violence as “terrorists.”
Aman’s order, Malaysiakini said, came in the wake of a statement from Deputy Minister Ahmad Maslan that “the intruders who have terrorized others should not be likened to a respectable group like an army.”
“Stop referring to that terrorist group as the royal army of the Sulu sultanate … it is also inappropriate to link the Sulu community in Sabah with the group,” he said.
Defense Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi was quoted by state media Bernama as saying “(the) armed intruders are like terrorists, however I leave it to the media to figure out what to call them.”