MANILA, Philippines—Sultan Jamalul Kiram III of Sulu on Wednesday ruled out the possibility of his armed followers leaving Sabah soon, saying he did not authorize his younger brother to negotiate with the government about the “disengagement” of the sultanate’s “royal army” from the east Malaysian state the sultanate claims to own.
Speaking to reporters at his residence in Taguig City, Kiram maintained that while he allowed his brother, Sultan Bantilan Esmail Kiram II, to meet with Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, he did not give the green light to negotiate in behalf of the sultanate.
“The truth is I don’t like him to talk to anybody. If possible, I told him to stay with me,” Kiram said. “There is no (negotiation on disengagement). I don’t like that. It’s like playing baseball. I’m already on the third base, why would I leave? Why would I go out?”
“That (disengagement) will only happen after I talk with my brother in Sabah,” he said, referring to his younger brother, Rajah Muda Agbimuddin Kiram, who led a 234-strong contingent of the “royal sultanate forces” which occupied Tanduao village in Lahad Datu on February 9.
Malaysian security forces have dispersed the group in operations, backed by aerial and artillery bombardment, that have claimed 57 Filipino and 9 Malaysian lives.
Asked if he thought Esmail acted on his own when he claimed that the sultanate was open to disengagement, he said, “Parang ganoon eh (It looks like that).”
He said Esmail did not mention the discussion he had with Roxas regarding the possible withdrawal of the “royal security forces” from Sabah when Esmail visited him on Tuesday.
He said that if the Aquino government was sincere in finding a solution to the Sabah crisis, “they should talk to me directly.”
“My door is open to negotiations. I have said that many times,” Kiram said.