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Malaysian police officer on trial for Sabah caper

Rajah Muda Agbimuddin Kiram. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—A Malaysian police officer met with the elder brother of Agbimuddin Kiram two months before the intrusion of the followers of the sultan of Sulu in February that led to the deaths of more than 70 people.

The meeting between former Sabah Special Branch deputy chief Zulkifli Aziz and Esmail Kiram, brother of Agbimuddin Kiram, leader of the Sulu group that intruded into Sabah, suggested that the intrusion had gone through long planning and was possibly aided by some people in the territory.

At least one Malaysian police officer is suspected of aiding the Sulu sultanate’s plan to take over Sabah by withholding information about it and it is during the officer’s trial, which began on Monday, that Zulkifli testified to contact with Esmail Kiram, brother of Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram prior to the intrusion.

The Special Branch officer, Hassan Ali Basari, is being tried in the High Court in Kota Kinabalu for withholding information about the intrusion from investigators.

He was arrested in late March after the disclosure of information that he had learned about the plan for the intrusion into  Tanduo village in Lahad Datu town but did not report it to his superiors.

Hassan allegedly learned about the plan from a witness who reported to him that he heard some of Kirams’ followers talking about the plan for the intrusion while he was selling fish in Bongao town in Tawi-Tawi, southern Philippines, in January.

Terrorist acts

Hassan was charged with intentionally withholding information related to terrorist acts, which carries a jail term of up to seven years or a fine or both upon conviction.

He pleaded not guilty at the opening of his trial on Monday.

Testifying at Hassan’s trial on Tuesday, Zulkifli said he met Esmail in Sabah in late December 2012 for a cup of coffee and to “get to know him,” according to Malaysia’s The Star newspaper.

Under questioning by lawyer Ram Singh, Zulkifli testified that Esmail did not reveal plans by the sultanate of Sulu to occupy Tanduo.

But Esmail asked for his help to look for investors to develop his 16,000-hectare land in Mindanao into an oil palm plantation, the paper said.

Zulkifli said he contacted Esmail on Feb. 12 to obtain the telephone number of his younger brother Agbimuddin.

He denied that he and the Special Branch were aware of the possible intrusion into Sabah as early as December 2012, the paper said.

The Star quoted Zulkifli as saying that he was alerted to the intrusion when he received a call from a duty officer at the Sabah Command Control Center on Feb. 12.

He said he cracked jokes and distributed cigarettes to ease a very tense situation when he met Agbimuddin and his armed followers in Tanduo that day.

He said there were three meetings between Feb. 14 and 16 for “tactical intelligence” purposes apart from trying to convince the group to leave.

“I cracked a few jokes to liven up the situation by promising to bring them fried chicken and pizzas,” Zulkifli said.

“And to allow us to take pictures of them, I told them to smile for the camera because their photos might appear in newspapers the following day,” he added.


The intrusion by Agbimuddin’s group led to a standoff with Malaysian police and military troops that erupted into violence on March 1.

The fighting spilled over to other villages as the authorities flushed out the intruders, resulting in the deaths of 63 fighters from Agbimuddin’s group, eight Malaysian police officers and two soldiers.

Agbimuddin has not been heard from since the fighting ended in late March. The Star/ANN

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Tags: Agbimuddin Kiram , Esmail Kiram , Jamalul Kiram , Sabah , Sabah caper , Sulu sultan , Sulu sultanate , Zulkifli Aziz

  • http://www.yellowmythbusters.gov.ph/ Weder-Weder Lang

    Intrusion? More like reclaiming what’s ours.

    Meanwhile, as PNoy bargains away our territorial claim on Sabah, his sister Ballsy Aquino-Cruz and her husband are involved in an extortion attempt. A Czech company bidding for the MRT project complained about the couple’s request for facilitation fees.

    Galing talaga!


    • MShaf

      Yours? Keep dreaming!

      • Bos Duit

        agreed.. let us malaysian ignore them and let them continue dreaming… we should look forward to be a developed nation in 2020. …FROM SABAHAN AND SARAWAKIAN…..

      • Guest

        whatever you say, you are still backward country, you can never become advanced like Singapore or Thailand, your people will toil in Singapore forever, heheheh

      • MShaf

        What matters are Malaysians not only dream, but we act on those dream. Singapore built systematic industrial areas, we followed. Good infracstructures, we followed. The same with financial centre, big landmarks, bio-pharmaceutical researches, tourisms, education centers, foreign talents, etc. And Singapore also followed on F1 race track (and made it nicer with nite race) and gambling centre.

        Malaysia relationship with Singapore is unique coz we not only compete, we also cooperate and collaborate in many areas. Malaysians will never be ashamed to learnt and copy from others. Malaysians are grateful to Singapore for showing how to do things efficiently.

        Now how about Philipines dream?

      • MShaf

        2020 is too early. I think 2050 is more valid. By 2050, perhaps Tagalogs, Visayas and Mindanaoans would go separate way.

        By 2050, most probably Sabah and Sarawak would also go separate way from Malaysia. I have no problem with that.

  • Commentator

    What are these Malaysians going to gain by aiding the Kirams?

    • MShaf

      Those Malaysians were disillusioned by the so called revival of sulu sultanate and thus started to bite the hands that feed them (after being given citizenship, opportunity in education, health, business, etc). And they bite more than they could chew.

  • Mang Teban

    Fine. The Malaysian government can investigate its people
    but, should it not initiate talks with the Philippine government
    on the Sabah claim to settle the issue once and for all?
    Until the issue is left hanging, the root of the problem from
    the time the bloody Brits stole Sabah away from its rightful
    owner will remain a case of illegal annexation to the
    confederation of Malaya which paved the way for
    Malaysian independence from Britain.

    Malaysians must correct this flaw in their history before and
    after their freedom from their colonizer and leave a legacy
    of honor, truth, & justice to the next generations.

    • MShaf

      Malaysia prefers to let bygone be bygone. It will be waste of time to try to put those issues to pre-colonial perspective. Singapore once belonged to Malaysia, northern Malaysia once occupied by Thailand, Riau Indonesia once belonged to Malaysia, Limbang Malaysia once belonged to Brunei, North Borneo once belonged to Brunei but ‘stolen’ by Sulu Sultanate during power vacuum during Brunei Civil War (this is Bruneians perspective), etc.

      • ofwme2807

        so what’s the connection there nothing…Malaysia still has to return Sabah to the Sultanate of Sulu under Philippine flag…Malaysia must also pay for supporting and arming the terrorists in Mindanao which caused hundreds of thousands people dead and lost opportunities to develop Mindanao…Malaysia will surely pay dearly soon…

      • MShaf

        Malaysia was poor and struggling to fight the communist guerillas during that time and definitely could not afford to arm anybody. Why dont you blame your navy for failure to secure your sea border and stop the arm smuggling during that time. Remember during Marcos presidency, PH Navy was superior than Malaysia Navy. Did Malaysia blame Thailand for arm smuggling to the communists from China? No. It is Malaysia armed forces job to protect the border.

        Mindanao had long been neglected by Manila (thus the resentments resulted in rise of MNLF and MILF) and you still prefer to blame your neighbour for lost opportunity.

      • Guest

        how dare you judge the Phils. you are also a corrupt nation… you continue to vote corrupt CM’s like Taib Mahmud & Aman Musa…these people continue to destroy the Borneo rainforest making the native Iban & Kadazan people live in poverty….shame shame shame

      • MShaf

        Corruption is not exclusive right of filipinos. There are many corrupt officials and politicians in Malaysia. However, Malaysians do not point fingers to other countries and citizens for its shortcomings and problems as a result of corruptions.

      • Guest

        the MNLF were trained in Sandakan during the 70′s you bloke

      • MShaf

        You have to give names, name of specific location, name of trainers, name of participants, etc like documented Operation Merdeka. Otherwise it is just wild accusation.

      • CommonSens6

        Go eat pork in Pakistan Musharaff!

      • MShaf

        I dont have to go to Pakistan to eat pork. Very difficult to get and expensive. Muslim majority Malaysia is the biggest exporter of pork in ASEAN. Even buddhist majority Thailand is far behind. Ironic isn’t it?

      • Mang Teban

        Only 50 years ago in 1963 was the illegal annexation
        and that was not pre-colonial era anymore.
        Sabah was a gift by Brunei sultan to Filipino sultan.
        No way can you suggest ‘let bygones be bygone’ to Filipinos on Sabah like it is a matter of hard feelings and hurt emotions among relatives or friends over a small understanding.
        This is serious encroachment on land Malaysia never had an iota of ownership right. Simply outrageous & despicable among civilized nations that a self- proclaimed democracy continues to exist & operate with a fraud on its historic past. I am certain there are Malaysians who would prefer to respect the legitimate claim of Sabah by Filipinos.

      • MShaf

        Kiram Gang never produced document on the gift. The fact is the Brunei people considered the sulu sultan of that time as usurper and pirate that stole North Borneo from them. Even when sulu sultanate was at its peak, they just controlled east cost of North Borneo with pagan Rungus warriors at the north, Kadazan, Dusun and Murut warriors at hinterland opposing every move of sulu sultanate.

        It pains Malaysians when you use old documents to justify and support Kiram Gang bloody actions in Sabah. God is great. Now you could feel the bitter of your own medicine when China uses an old map to occupy the reef at WPS.

        Edit: In the past there were Sabah politicians who prefer Sabah to be part of Philipines because Philipines is a strong christian country. Most pagans were promulgated christianity during Sabah early years. But those politicians later realized that only by joining weak Malaya they could dictate terms for autonomy, and they got it.

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