Tracking royal bloodlines

Tracking royal bloodlines

Tracking royal bloodlines

Malaysian security forces patrolling the beach of Tanjung Labian in Lahad Datu close to Kampung Tanduo where Sulu intruders landed on Feb 12, 2013. The Star/Asia News Network

“Magpa sa-ula-ula dumawhat sin wayruon hangkatuh dugo timataytay ha ka-ugat ugatan niya dugo sin Sultan Sharif-Ul Hashim.”

Translated into English, the Tausug saying means, “Attempt to aspire when there is none, even a drop of Sultan Sharif ul-Hashim’s blood in all his veins”.


Sharif ul-Hashim founded the Sultanate of Sulu in 1405. The Tausug (known as Suluk in Sabah) is the dominant ethnicity in Sulu. The Sulu Sultanate bloodline is Tausug, intertwined with the blood of Arabs who arrived in the archipelago to propagate Islam.


Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Law and Institutional Reform) Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said’s recent statements about the United Tausug Citizens (UTC) group have ignited a bloodline discussion among my Sulu friends who claim lineage to Sultan Sharif ul-Hashim.

In two reports published in The Star, on March 9 and March 12, Azalina inadvertently transformed a demand she described as frivolous into something serious. She said Malaysia rejected the frivolous statement by the UTC group, which claims to be the “rightful custodians of the Sultanate of Sulu Territory” in Sabah.

According to her, the UTC had requested Putrajaya pay US$15billion  immediately in what it called “cession money” and sought recognition of the organization as “a sovereign and independent State Kingdom”. Azalina also said that the UTC had threatened to commence legal action against Malaysia in the United States.

“This represents the latest frivolous and baseless attempt by a group to claim sovereignty over Malaysian territory and to extort unfounded payments from Malaysia,” she said in the March 9 statement.

Azalina did not name the leader of the UTC. I checked with sources in Malaysia and the Philippines to find out who is behind the group, which I had not heard of previously.

Several sources sent me copies of a letter from something called the “United Tausug National Organisation” addressed “To Whom It May Concern” with the subject: “Plaintiffs Against Malaysia Government – Claim for Rental Payment for Sabah”.


The letter was signed by Sultan Sharif Jubair B. Sharif Hashim of the Sultanate of Sulu. It was a “Sultan of Sulu” name I had never heard of. And I have met many self-proclaimed Sulu sultans, and outright fake sultans and queens.

I contacted two friends in the Philippines who have blood ties to the eight heirs to whom convicted rogue arbitrator Gonzalo Stampa awarded US$14.9 billion in March 2020. Those eight heirs are from the Fuad Kiram and Jamalul Kiram III families.

Malaysia’s Home Affairs Ministry gazetted Fuad as a terrorist under our anti-money laundering and terrorism laws, and Jamalul III was behind the military incursion into Lahad Datu, Sabah, in 2013.

“He is a pseudo sultan. Another pretender misled by the belief that Malaysia will negotiate with him regarding the arbitration award,” one Kiram source told me.

“That person now pretending to be the Sultan of Sulu is not a descendant of Sultan Sharif ul-Hashim, nor is he a relative by affinity or consanguinity to the Kiram.”

Kiram source two messaged: “Jubair is a mentally xxx person; he is not our royal family member. I think that guy was paid to add confusion to the line of succession of the throne of the Sultanate.”

Curious to find out more about Jubair, I video-called him. The 44-year-old man born in Maimbung, Sulu, claimed in the video that he is the Sulu Sultan. He sent me his family tree showing he is a descendant of Sultan Sharif ul-Hashim.

The self-styled “HRH Sharif Jubair”, is the 30th Sulu Sultan who occupied the throne in 2014, according to his chronology. His list of descendents includes two dubious names, however, one of whom is known to have hung out at the Hyatt Hotel in Kota Kinabalu, dishing out Datu titles in the 1990s.

Interestingly, Jubair is not in my intensively researched Sulu Sultan family tree, which becomes fuzzy after the death of Jamalul Kiram II in 1936. The Kiram fought among themselves over who was the next Sulu Sultan at that time, resulting in many pretenders to the throne today.

I told Jubair: “The families of two Sulu Sultanate heirs in the final Stampa award, Fuad Kiram and Jamalul Kiram III, say that you are not a legitimate Sultan of Sulu.”

In reply, he said: “The government of Malaysia already knows who is legit and who is not Sultan of Sulu. They have a legal adviser who is an international lawyer and knows the law.

“If you believe the Kirams who say that I’m not a legit Sultan of Sulu, why has the Malaysian government not given the 14.9 billion dollars to the Kiram families?”

Jubair continued: “I am currently here in Sulu, and there are United Tausug Citizens of the Sultanate of Sulu who recognise me as their leader or legitimate Sultan. The Kiram family are all Filipino citizens, self-proclaimed, and no Tausug citizens of the Sultanate of Sulu recognise them.

“Ask the Kiram families whether a Filipino citizen can be a Sultan of Malaysia,” he said.

I countered: “But that’s not the issue in the Stampa award case. The question of citizenship was not raised.”

He was quick to reply: “Filipino citizens cannot claim the wealth of the Sultanate of Sulu; their Kiram grandfathers were only trustees of the Sultanate of Sulu’s assets or territory during their tenure. That is not the personal assets of the leaders who are in office of a state.

“We are here as the United Tausug Citizens of the Sultanate of Sulu and we will do everything to block steps by hypocrites,” he said.

I asked Jubair what passport he travels on.

His reply: “We will be able to create soon the Sultanate of Sulu passport.”

But at the moment, isn’t he a citizen of the Philippines, I asked.

“Do you know the word renunciation? I am now a Tausug Citizen of the Sultanate of Sulu,” he said.

“Most of the self-proclamations here as Sultan of Sulu are Filipino citizens until now. They don’t renounce [their citizenship] like I’ve done.”

He continued: “Don’t forget to research the word renunciation … if you are ignorant of the law.”

Since Thursday, I have been calling, video-calling and texting Jubair. I even spoke to his “Defense Minister”.

Jubair showed me four letters that he wrote to the Malaysian government. I noted that he used United Tausug National Organisation (UTNO) in the first letter but United Tausug Citizens (UTC) in subsequent letters. I asked him why he had two different names for his organisations.

“UTC and UTNO are ‘one’ organisation to represent the people of the Sultanate of Sulu,” he said.

I then asked Jubair what legitimacy he has to take the case to the United Nations Security Council and UN General Assembly.

“We have friends who are international lawyers who will bring a case to the UNSC and Unga against two countries, Malaysia and the Philippines, that are usurping or colonising our territory of the Sultanate of Sulu,” he said.

The demand is indeed frivolous, and the irony of my column is that it takes Jubair too seriously. In my defence, I wanted to shed light on who in the Philippines and Sabah (there are Sulu Sultan claimants there, too) have even one a drop of Sultan Sharif ul-Hashim’s blood in their veins.

During my two decades of travel in the Philippines, I met many self-proclaimed Sulu sultans and fake queens. I have a pretty good idea of who shouldn’t be given any credibility by acknowledging their frivolous claims.

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And I do have an idea who doesn’t have a drop of Sultan Sharif ul-Hashim’s blood in his veins.

TAGS: royals, Sultanate of Sulu

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