Wednesday, 27 February 2013

The Sulu Sultanate and the Sabah Claim: Historical Background

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COMMENTARY: The Sabah standoff



 N ANOTHER David and Goliath move, a hundred armed Tausugs, led by Rajah Mudah (crown prince) Agbimuddin Kiram are in Lahad Datu, Sabah and have captured the attention of the world to the sovereign and proprietary claims of the Sulu sultanate over Sabah. Datu Agbimuddin and the brother of the Sulu sultan, Jamalul Kiram III, have stated that they are in Lahad Datu on a visit of their “homeland.” Since the sultanate is now part of the Philippines, the sovereign rights over Sabah have therefore been assumed by the Philippine government.

Left unresolved, the standoff in Sabah can escalate into an international incident that could create tension between Malaysia and the Philippines. Worse, there may be vested interests that will fuel an escalation into conflict. For instance, how true are the rumors from Malaysia that this incident may be driven by local politicians out to destabilize the ruling party, UMNO, by creating fear among the Sabahans? After all, the Malaysian government, under UMNO leaders, have been fully supporting the peace process with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. News reports from Malaysia surmise that although Prime Minister Najib Razak is popular, the UMNO may be losing support. If this trend continues, then the opposition led by Datuk Anwar Ibrahim may have a stronger hand in challenging the UMNO in the June elections.

The Moro National Liberation Front, under chairman Nur Misuari, has been meeting in Zamboanga City since Wednesday about the situation. I have been informed that the discussions, which involve Muslim religious leaders from the islands, have leaders demanding support for the followers of the Sultan while calling for a peaceful resolution of the impasse.

With the Philippine government engaged in finalizing the peace agreement with the MILF, supported by the Malaysian government as facilitator, the impasse needs to be resolved peacefully. It is unfortunate that the government, under then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, did not consider the Sabah claim as a major issue that could undermine the effectiveness of Malaysia as facilitator. This, in spite of statements issued by Moro leaders in 2001 that questioned the choice of Malaysia as facilitator amid the Sabah claim.

However, the Malaysian government has been effective in facilitating the GPH-MILF peace process since 2001 as well as an ally for security and development. It is therefore in the interest of all concerned that the Sabah stalemate be quickly and peacefully resolved. This close to the last stage of the peace process, we cannot afford a conflagration that could bring us all back to square 1.

Allow me to provide a background on the Sabah issue so that readers may understand the complexity of the situation. The government has been pursuing its claim over Sabah since the administration of President Diosdado Macapagal. The claim emanates from the Sulu sultanate’s sovereign rights over Sabah, which was turned over to the (Philippine) government. The proprietary claim of the heirs to Sabah, however, originates from the decision of a British court when Malaysia was still under British rule.

THE SULU SULTANATE ACQUIRES SABAH

The Genealogy of the Sulu Royal Families, written by Sururul-Ain Ututalum (descendant of Dayang-Dayang Hadja Piandao and, therefore, an heir to Sabah) and Abdul-Karim Hedjazi, traced the close relationship between the royals of Brunei and Sulu.

In the 1500s, Brunei Sultan Bolkiah was married to Sulu Princess Putri Laila, granddaughter of Shariful Hashim, first Sultan of Sulu. In the late 1600s, when Sultan Muaddin of Brunei was threatened by rebellion, he turned to his kin in Sulu for help. The rebellion was quelled.

 As a reward, the Brunei sultan gave resource-rich Sabah to the Sultan of Sulu. The property includes the “mainland of the island of Borneo commencing from the Pandassan River on the north-west coast and extending along the whole east coast as far as the Sibuco River in the south and comprising amongst other the States of Paitan, Sugut, Bangaya, Labuk, Sandakan, Kina Batangan, Mumiang, and all the other territories and states to the southward thereof bordering on Darvel Bay and as far as the Sibuco river with all the islands within three marine leagues of the coast.”

The territory is defined in the agreement. (http://www.lawnet.sabah.gov.my/Lawnet/SabahLaws/Treaties/GrantBySultanOfSuluOfTerritoriesAndLandsOnTheMainlandOfTheIslandOfBorneo.pdf.)

SABAH BECOMES PART OF MALAYSIA
In 1763, Sultan Azimuddin signed a treaty allowing the British East Indies Co. to use Sabah and other territories. Tensions later developed between the sultan and the company, which prevented the effective implementation of the treaty until 1878. At this time, Baron Von Overbeck of the British East India Trading Co. entered into a lease agreement or padjak with Sultan Jamalul Alam. This company was later absorbed by the British North Borneo Co. which, in 1946, transferred sovereign rights over Sabah to Britain. When the Federation of Malaya was granted its independence from Britain in 1963, Sabah was one of the territories turned over to the newly established Malaysia.

SOURCE OF DISPUTE
The dispute revolves around the meaning of the term padjak. The Tausug padjak means lease whereas the British version used the term to mean “grant” or “cede.” Thus, the sultan’s heirs maintain that Sabah was merely leased to the company while Malaysia states that the Philippines has no claim because Sabah had been sold to British East India Trading.

The Malaysian government continues to pay lease money owed by British North Borneo to the descendants of the sultan to this day. The Malaysian government pays RM5,300 per year as rental for Sabah to the heirs since the formation of the Malaysian federation in 1963.

Today, the sum of RM5,300 — less than ₱75,000 — as annual rental barely covers the monthly rent of a house in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The heirs, on their own, have attempted to renegotiate the terms of the padjak with the Malaysian government.

In 1996, Princess Denchurai Kiram, daughter of Princess Tarhata Kiram and administrator of her estate, wrote then Prime Minister Mahathir to raise the rental to $1,000,000. She also stated that she and the other heirs were willing to renounce the claim if Kuala Lumpurt will provide a fair settlement. The letter was ignored by Mr. Mahathir.

In June 2010, the Sulu provincial board passed a resolution supporting the demand of the heirs to increase the yearly payment to at least $500 million.

Weeks earlier, Mr. Misuari issued a statement calling the attention of Malaysia to settle the Sabah issue. Misuari’s first wife, the late Desdemona Tan, and present wife Ruayda, are heirs to Sabah since they are descendants of Dayang-Dayang (Queen) Hadja Piandao, who was acknowledged to have 3/8 share of Sabah.

In January 2001, Sultan Esmail Kiram II, the brother of Jamalul III, also wrote Mr. Mahathir, this time through President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. Princess Denchurain’s daughter, Princess Tajmahal, was a co-signatory. According to reports, their demand was for $855 million.

SOVEREIGN RIGHTS
The late Ambassador Abraham Rasul, wazir or prime minister to Sultan Esmail Kiram (and later wazir to Sultan Mahakuttah, son of Esmail), had been authorized by the sultan to discuss the pursuit of the Sabah claim with Mr. Macapagal and, later, President Ferdinand Marcos. (Ambassador Rasul succeeded his father, the first Muslim senator, Hadji Butu, who was wazir to three sultans.)

Esmail Kiram officially transferred the sultanate’s authority and sovereignty to the Philippines on Sept. 12, 1962 through a written instrument signed by himself and Foreign Affairs Secretary Emmanuel Pelaez. The transfer was authorized by a resolution passed by the Ruma Bechara (literally “House of Talk,” equivalent to council of advisers/Cabinet). He thus gave up the Sulu sultanate’s sovereign rights to Sabah to the government, but retained proprietary rights over the same.

However, there was a provision in the Ruma Bechara resolution that in the event the government fails or refuses to protect its claim, the Sultanate of Sulu reserves the right to prosecute its claim over Sabah, in whatever manner it can think of. The Kiram family lawyer, Ulka Ulama, and former Senator Santanina Rasul have documents that bear this out. (As a UP political science student, Senator Rasul wrote an award-winning essay on the claim, which was published in the UP Law Journal.)

If the sovereign claim over Sabah is dropped, do we lose all rights? Even if we lose sovereign rights over Sabah, we still have proprietary rights, through the heirs of the Sultan, who personally owned Sabah.

THE HEIRS
The legally recognized owners — members of Sulu royalty and nobility — were identified in the 1939 ruling of Chief Justice C. F. C. Macaskie of the High Court of North Borneo: Dayang-Dayang (Princess) Hadji Piandao was acknowledged as the major share-holder with 3/8 share. Princess Tarhata Kiram and Princess Sakinur-In Kiram were to each have a 3/16 share. The six other heirs who went to Macaskie’s court were awarded 1/24 share apiece: Mora Napsa, Sultan Esmail Kiram, Datu Punjungan, Sitti Mariam, Sitti Jahara and Sitti Rada.

Princess Denchurain acknowledged the nine heirs specified in the Macaskie decision as the true heirs of Sabah.

All the principal heirs have died. As of today, there are probably a thousand heirs of the heirs. Dayang-Dayang Hadji Piandao Kiram, an only child, was childless. Therefore her cousins, nieces and nephews will divide her 3/8 share. Among her cousins was my grandmother, Hadja Salma, wife of Sen. Hadji Butu. Thus, my father, the late Ambassador Rasul, and his siblings and cousins are heirs. Misuari’s wives (Desdemona and Ruayda), are heirs. Jamalul III and Esmail are the children of Datu Punjungan.

MOVES TO RESOLVE CLAIM
During the term of President Macapagal, the government in 1962 filed a claim over Sabah with the United Nations. A Sabah Division was created in the Department of Foreign Affairs.

Mr. Marcos had other plans. Parallel to legal maneuverings, he had young Muslims trained in Corregidor to “destabilize” Sabah. The scenario: the Philippines could then come in and take Sabah by force, to “protect” the thousands of Tausugs who lived there or incite them to secede and join the Philippines. The plan went awry, resulting in the massacre of the Muslim trainees. Except for one lone survivor, Jibin Arula. Away from the barracks when he heard gunfire, Arula claimed he saw his comrades mowed down by their military trainors. He ran to the mountains, went over the cliff and into the sea. He was rescued the next day by Cavite fishermen. Somehow, he was brought to then Cavite Gov. Delfin Montano. The governor brought Arula to Senator Benigno Aquino who then exposed the infamous “Jabidah Massacre” of March 18, 1968. Malaysia severed diplomatic ties with the Philippines after the expose. It took the combined efforts of Indonesia, Singapore and Thailand to resolve the situation.

President Corazon C. Aquino wanted to resolve the claim during her term. It seems that Malaysia would only agree to negotiate if all the heirs spoke as one. In 1987, she instructed Foreign Affairs Secretary Raul Manglapus to bring all the heirs together.

On Oct. 23, 1987, Mr. Manglapus wrote Ambassador Rasul: “I would like to suggest that the claimants organize themselves so that they may arrive at a common position…. Although yours is a private claim, we have the assurance of the Malaysian government that they are ready and willing to negotiate with the heirs of the Sultan of Sulu in order to settle this matter.”

Then Sen. Santanina Rasul was requested to coordinate the unification of the heirs. As her chief of staff, I was tasked to implement the assignment. We managed to bring them all to Malacañang. After hours of deliberation, the heirs appointed their representatives, led by Sec. Manglapus, to negotiate with Malaysia. Unfortunately, the meeting came to a standstill when Jamalul III dissented.

Afterward, the heirs of Dayang-Dayang Hadji Piandao Kiram, Sultan Esmail Kiram, Princesses Tarhata, Sakinur-in and Sitti Mariam sought a meeting with Sec. Manglapus.

 A brief from that meeting held on Dec. 6, 1987, stated: “They were of the opinion that Sultan Mohamad Jamalul Kiram III was expressing his own personal views which contravene the consensus reached at the meeting of the heirs with Secretary… Manglapus at the PICC on Friday, December 4 and at the conference of the heirs held with President Corazon C. Aquino at Malacañang on Saturday, December 5.”

President Fidel V. Ramos pursued the attempt to unite the heirs. Upon his suggestion, the representatives of the heirs met on Feb. 10, 1993 to discuss their establishment of the Sulu-Sabah Development Corp., which would be responsible for the economic development and sociocultural advancement of Sulu. It was understood that this entity would be the conduit of the funds from the settlement of the proprietary claim over Sabah. Former Presidential Legal Counsel (now Supreme Court Justice) Antonio Carpio drafted the terms. This corporation would have been powerful if the idea had prospered.

Why then did the attempts fizzle? During the Ramos years, the heirs still could not unite. By then, the idea to establish the Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area had prospered. Rich Malaysia was employing hundreds of thousands of Filipinos as well as investing in Mindanao. Terrorism was sprouting and borders had to be secured. The Sabah claim moved to the back burner. This situation continued through the short-lived Estrada presidency.

The Arroyo administration renewed interest in settling the claim. Some of the heirs were feted at Malacañang in 2002 and Jamalul III was hailed as Sultan of Sulu. President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo even gave the letter of Sultan Jamalul and Princess Tajmahal, asking for an adjustment of the rentals, to then Prime Minister Mahathir. The Arroyo administration, however, did not unite all the heirs, as the preceding administrations had done.

THE SULTAN OF SULU
The Sultanate of Sulu has had a tradition of being governed by one Sultan, supported and acknowledged by the citizens of the sultanate. The last to be so proclaimed was Sultan Mahakuttah Kiram, the son of Esmail Kiram. Mahakuttah, was recognized by Mr. Marcos, while his father was recognized by Messrs. Macapagal and Marcos. Jamalul III was recognized by Mrs. Arroyo, and was even included in the administration senatorial slate in 2004. He has been the most forceful and visible sultan.

It is unfortunate that today there are over 10 who are claiming the Sultanship. Among them are Sultan Jamalul III and his brother Sultan Esmail. Jamalul is the eldest son of Datu Punjungan Kiram. Initially, Datu Punjungan was the raja muda or crown prince of Sultan Esmail Kiram. But after Datu Punjungan left the Philippines to reside in Sabah, Sultan Esmail was fearful that Datu Punjungan might sign a quitclaim in favor of Malaysia, so he changed his crown prince, with the consent and authority of his Ruma Bechara. Esmail named his eldest son, Mahakuttah Kiram, as his crown prince. When Esmail passed away, Mahakuttah succeeded and his coronation was ordered by Mr. Marcos to safeguard the Sabah claim. Mahakuttah had anointed his son, Muedzul-Lail as the raja muda. At the time, Muedzul-Lail was in grade school.

RECOMMENDATIONS
• The Sabah impasse needs to be resolved peacefully. It is to the interest of the government to ensure that the MNLF, the dominant Moro liberation front in Sulu, supports a peaceful resolution of the situation. Misuari can play a role to de-escalate tensions. Not only is he Tausug and therefore supportive of the sultanate, his late wife Desdemona and present wife Ruayda are heirs. However, Misuari is aggrieved that the MNLF and he himself have been sidelined in the peace process with the MILF. Further, the Arroyo administration had been instrumental in supporting the Council of 15, which removed Misuari from the leadership of the MNLF. He was also incarcerated for over seven years and later released for lack of evidence. Misuari, who is still recognized by the Organization of the Islamic Conference as the chairman of the MNLF, is therefore a key player. Misuari yesterday convened a meeting of the MNLF and island leaders in Zamboanga City on the situation in Sabah and the claim. A statement will be issued calling for support for the Sabah claim.

• The national government should encourage and assist the leading members of the Kirams and the datus of Sulu to come together and choose one Sultan. This will not only re-establish the tradition of one Sultan leading the Sulu sultanate; it will provide a focal point for the nobility and traditional leaders of Sulu to lead in peace and development. At this point, Sultan Jamalul Kiram III has established his dominance in the field, particularly after the Lahad Datu incident. Most of the leaders in the island-provinces of Sulu, Tawi-Tawi and Basilan — domain of the Sulu sultanate — have applauded his action.

As many elected leaders in the island-provinces have not been successful in forging a strong foundation of governance and peace, perhaps strengthening the institution of the sultanate will provide Sulu, Tawi-Tawi and Basilan with an institution that can help unite the population behind peace and development, as the sultans of Malaysia are doing.

• The Benigno Aquino administration should follow the initiative began by Presidents Corazon Aquino and Ramos to unite the Sabah heirs and pursue the peaceful and just resolution of the Sabah claim.

-Amina Rasul

Saturday, 23 February 2013

The Heirs of the Sultan of Sulu and Their Claims on Sabah

 photo heirs-of-the-sultan-of-sulu_zpsc1268528.jpg 

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In 1939, a decision issued by the high court of North Borneo named the nine principal heirs of the last sultan of Sulu, whose descendants had been pressing their claim to Sabah.

Known as the 1939 Macaskie Judgment, the nine principal heirs of Sultan Jamalul Kiram II were

1.  Datu Punjungan Kiram,
2.Datu Esmail Kiram,
3. Dayang Dayang Piandao Kiram,
4.Dayang Dayang Sitti Rada Kiram,
5. Princess Tarhata Kiram,
6. Princess Sakinur-In Kiram,
7. Dayang Dayang Putli Jahara Kiram,
8. Dayang Dayang Sitti Mariam Kiram and
9. Mora Napsa.

Jamalul II’s father, Sultan Jamalul Ahlam, leased Sabah in 1878 to British North Borneo Co. Under the agreement, the company would pay 5,300 Mexican gold pieces a year to the Kingdom of Sulu. It continued to do so until 1936, when Jamalul II died.

According to Ahlam’s descendants, Sabah (formerly North Borneo) was ceded in 1704 to the sultan of Sulu by the sultan of Brunei, after the sultan of Sulu helped quell a rebellion against the sultan of Brunei.
After Jamalul II’s death, the British consul in Manila recommended the suspension of payments because President Manuel L. Quezon did not recognize Jamalul II’s successor.

Sultan Punjungan Kiram, crown prince of the sultanate at the time of Jamalul II’s death, went to the British consulate in Manila to demand the resumption of payments.

P77,000 rent
 
After the court decision, British North Borneo Co. complied for several years. It stopped paying when its rights to Sabah were transferred to the newly established Federation of Malaysia in 1963. The new government assumed the payment but in ringgit.

Every year, the Malaysian Embassy in the Philippines issues a check in the amount of 5,300 ringgit (about P77,000) to the legal counsel of Jamalul Ahlam’s descendants. Malaysia considers the amount an annual “cession” payment for the disputed state, while the sultan’s descendants consider it “rent.”

According to Abraham Julpa Idjirani, secretary general and spokesperson of the sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo, the direct descendants and heirs of the sultan of Sulu and North Borneo at present are:

1. Sultan Jamalul Kiram III,
2.Sultan Bantilan Esmail Kiram III,
3. Datu Alianapia Kiram,
4. Datu Phugdal Kiram,
5. Datu Baduruddin Kiram and
6. the crown prince, Agbimuddin Kiram, official administrator of Sabah and son of Datu Punjungan.

Lies
 
In July 2008, there were reports that Jamalul II’s heirs had “dropped” their Sabah claim, but these were dismissed as untrue by the heirs. In the reports, Malaysian Datu Omar Ali Datu Backtiyal told a local newspaper in Malaysia that he had obtained the signatures of the nine heirs for the relinquishment of their claim to Sabah. The heirs dismissed the reports as “lies.”

 No reply to letters

Over the years, Jamalul II’s heirs have tried to get the attention of authorities by writing to them, but to no avail.

In February 1999, the late Princess Denchurain Kiram, daughter of Princess Tarhata, wrote then Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammad through former President Joseph Estrada to request for an increase in the annual rental. She died in September 2000 without receiving a reply.



In January 2001, Sultan Esmail Kiram II and Princess Taj Mahal Kiram Tarsum-Nuqui, daughter of Princess Denchurain, wrote a similar letter to Mahathir through former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
In August 2003, the heirs sent Arroyo another letter asking for help in requesting the Malaysian government to increase the rent, but nothing happened.

In February 2005 the heirs wrote another letter to Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, but were likewise ignored.

Inquirer Research
Source: Inquirer Archives

 

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

THE SABAH STAND-OFF: REVOLT LEFT OUT THE HEIRS OF THE SULTANATE OF SULU

  THE SABAH STAND-OFF: REVOLT LEFT OUT THE HEIRS OF THE SULTANATE OF SULU


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For 50 years, the Philippine claim to Sabah in the former British North Borneo has remained DORMANT  like a ticking time bomb.

On Feb. 12, this tranquility was disturbed when some 300 armed Filipinos led  by Rajah Mudah Agbimuddin Kiram, brother of a descendant of the Sultan of Sulu, landed on the seaside village of Tanduo in Lahad Datu town in Sabah after crossing the sea from  Island in  Tawi-Tawi, the Philippines’ southernmost province in the Sulu Archipelago.

Agbimuddin was reported to have claimed that the expedition  was launched to press the claim of the Sulu sultanate to Sabah, which the administration of President Aquino appeared to have shelved to avoid a  confrontation with Malaysia, which has been brokering the government’s peace talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

The landing threatened to wreck the framework agreement signed by the Aquino administration with the MILF, a “peace in our time” accord to create a Bangsamoro entity, carving out an autonomous Moro homeland from the sovereign territory of the Philippine republic.

The expedition also created a dangerous armed impasse as Sabah security forces surrounded the landing group, which refused demands to leave the village, saying it should not be expelled because Sabah is part of the Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo.

Negotiations are underway between Philippine and Malaysian authorities to prevent the standoff from escalating into an explosive confrontation. The impasse has also reignited demands in the Philippines to put the claim to Sabah on high profile in the relations between Manila and Kuala Lumpur—a step that may open rifts in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, of which the two countries are original founding members.

The heirs of the Sultan of Sulu  decided to press their claim to Sabah after feeling betrayed and left out in the peace process between the Aquino administration and the MILF, according to a report in the Inquirer.

In an interview with the Inquirer, Agbimuddin said the government appeared to have neglected the heirs and ignored their stand that their claim to Sabah is an “integral and essential” aspect of any peace agreement with any armed group in Mindanao.

Abraham Idjirani, secretary general and spokesperson of the sultanate, said the decision to show not just physical presence but actual occupation of Sabah came late last year, shortly after the Aquino administration signed the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro with the MILF on Oct. 15.

“They are not interested, this government and the previous governments, so we decided to act on our own,” Agbimuddin said.

On Feb. 11, he and 1,000 followers, including armed men from what he called the “Royal Security Forces of the Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo,” left Simunul Island on speedboats and headed to Sabah. He described the action as, not an act of aggression, but “a journey back home.”

Idjirani said that before the signing of the framework agreement, the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process invited the heirs of  the Sultan of Sulu to what was supposed to be a consultation on the peace deal with the MILF. Idjirani said the heirs thought the government wanted a comprehensive resolution to the peace, security and economic problems of territories in Mindanao by consulting with them.

“But it was just talk,” he said. “The framework agreement was finished without even the shadow of the Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo. They just pretended to consult us.”

The next thing the heirs knew, Idjirani said, the framework agreement had been signed without any mention of the “historic and sovereign rights of the Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo” in it. “Until the government  includes the Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo, no lasting and significant peace will come to Mindanao,” he said. “They should have seen the failure of the peace agreement with Nur Misuari. ”

According to Idjirani, the signing of the framework agreement with the MILF led to the unification of the heirs of the Sultan of Sulu and their decision to proceed with claiming Sabah on their own. He said the “meeting of the minds” of the heirs occurred on Nov. 11 last year in a relative’s house.

It was during that meeting that Sultan Jamalul Kiram III issued the royal decree that authorized his brother’s “journey” to Sabah. Among the 70 Tausug men rounded up by Malaysian authorities was Agbimuddin.
Over more than a century, the Tausug of Sulu have crossed the sea to Sabah, the former homeland of the sultanate, and had trade intercourse with the inhabitants.

The former British North Borneo, which used to be under the Sultan of Brunei, was ceded to the Sultan of Sulu in 1704 after he helped crush a rebellion against the Sultan of Brunei.

Sabah was leased by the British North Borneo Co. to the British colonizers of the former federation of  Malaya. It became Malaysia in 1963, when the British relinquished sovereignty. Subsequently, Sabah became part of Malaysia, with which the Philippines has a dispute over Sabah.

The Philippines lost interest in pressing its claim at the International Court of Justice in 1963.

This vacuum opened the way for the heirs of the Sultan of Sulu to press their claim on Sabah on their own initiative.

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Heirs of Sultan of Sulu pursue Sabah claim on their own


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Heirs of Sultan of Sulu pursue Sabah claim on their own

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BIZARRE BORDER DRAMA Heavily armed Malaysian policemen stand guard at a roadblock in Bakapit, about 50 kilometers from Lahad Datu in Sabah where some 100 reportedly armed Filipinos, later identified as descendants and the security forces of the Sultan of Sulu, have landed. Malaysia’s authorities say their security forces have surrounded the Sulu group. Photo courtesy of Malaysia’s The Star/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

Feeling betrayed and left out in the peace process between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the heirs of the Sultan of Sulu have decided to press their claim to the eastern Malaysian state of Sabah on their own.

Crown Prince Rajah Mudah Agbimuddin Kiram said in an interview with the Inquirer that the government appeared to have neglected the heirs and ignored their stand that their claim to Sabah was an “integral and essential” aspect of any peace agreement with any armed group in Mindanao.

Abraham Julpa Idjirani, secretary general and spokesperson of the Sultanate of Sulu, said the decision to show not just physical presence but actual occupation of Sabah came late last year, shortly after the Aquino administration signed a Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro with the MILF.

The standoff continued yesterday with Rajah Mudah’s claim to be under the protection of the security forces of the Sultanate of Sulu adding more mystery to the bizarre border drama.

Departure on Feb. 11
HOMECOMING Members of the Royal Security Force of the Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo who have traveled with Crown Prince Rajah Mudah Agbimuddin Kiram in what the descendants of the Sultan of Sulu describe as not an act of aggression against Sabah but a journey back to their homeland. Malaysian police and special forces surround the “royal army,” asking them to return home. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

“They are not interested, this government and the previous governments, so we decided to act on our own,” Rajah Mudah said.

Early on Feb. 11, Rajah Mudah and about 1,000 of his followers, including armed men from what he called “Royal Security Forces of the Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo” left Simunul Island in Tawi-Tawi in speedboats and headed for Sabah.

Rajah Mudah described his action as not an act of aggression but a journey back home.

“We came here in peace. We are not here to wage war. The armed men who are with me are the Royal Security Forces of the Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo. We will never bring war to our own territory, much less to our own people,” Rajah Mudah said.

His group landed in the village of Tunduao in Lahad Datu town in Sabah.

Surrounded
 
What happened after the landing is unclear, but reports from Kuala Lumpur on Thursday said Malaysian security forces had surrounded the Filipinos, whom they believed were a faction of Muslim rebels unhappy with a peace deal with the administration of President Aquino.

Rajah Mudah said he and his group were not arrested. He said he was communicating with Gen. Zul Kipli, head of the Special Branch of Sabah, the equivalent of the top intelligence officer in the Philippines.

He admitted, however, that he and his group were surrounded by Malaysian police and special forces.
The standoff between the Malaysian authorities and Rajah Mudah’s group has sparked one of the biggest security scares in recent years in Sabah, which is less than an hour by speedboat from the southernmost Philippine province of Tawi-Tawi.

To ascertain facts
 
Malacañang was reluctant to meddle in the reported incursion into Sabah by “100 armed Filipinos” claiming to be descendants of the Sultan of Sulu.

Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte indicated in a briefing for reporters in the Palace yesterday that the government was not sure about what was going on in Sabah.

THE ONCE FEUDING ROYALS UNITE The heirs of the Sultan of Sulu: (seated from left) Rajah Mudah Agbimuddin Kiram, Sultan Jamalul Kiram III, Sultan Bantilan Esmail Kiram II and (standing from left) Datu Alianapia Kiram, Datu Phugdal Kiram and Datu Baduruddin Kiram. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

She said the Philippine Embassy in Kuala Lumpur had sent a police attaché to Sabah to ascertain “what’s really happening.”

Valte said the government would provide assistance “to any Filipino abroad,” but added that on the Sabah standoff, “we would like to ascertain the facts first.”

Unaware of the situation in Lahad Datu, Philippine officials said the Filipinos were unarmed civilians who had been promised land.

Citing information from Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, Valte told reporters yesterday that the Filipinos were unarmed.

But Rajah Mudah’s claim that he was surrounded by his own security forces indicated the dearth of information in the government about the move taken by the heirs of the Sultan of Sulu.

Negotiations
 
In a statement released yesterday, the Department of Foreign Affairs said Malaysian Foreign Minister Anifa Aman had spoken to Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario and assured him that the Malaysians would respect the rights of the Filipinos in the Sabah standoff.

The statement said the Malaysian government had resorted to “negotiations to encourage” the Filipinos “to leave peacefully.”

Both the Philippine military and the Malaysian military had established that the Filipinos’ activity in Sabah had no approval from the Philippine government, the DFA said.

“In this regard, we therefore urge these concerned individuals to return to their homes and families,” the DFA said.

Pretended consultation
 
Idjirani said that before the signing of the agreement, the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (Opapp) invited the heirs of the Sultan of Sulu to what was supposed to be a consultation on a peace deal with the MILF.

He said he was asked to give a lecture on the stand of the Sultanate of Sulu at a forum held at the University of the Philippines College of Law.

“We thought finally the government of President Aquino wanted a complete and comprehensive resolution management to the peace, security and economic problems of territories in Mindanao by consulting with us. But it was just talk,”

Idjirani said in English and Filipino.

“The framework agreement was finished without even the shadow of the Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo. They just pretended to consult us,” he said.

He said the government encouraged the heirs of the Sultan of Sulu to lead “peace caravans” and they complied. He showed pictures of such a caravan taken in Tawi-Tawi last year. The pictures showed members of the Kiram royal family and their followers participating in the caravan.
 
Sultanate not mentioned
 
But the next thing the heirs knew, he said, the framework agreement had been signed without any mention of the “historic and sovereign rights” of the Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo to territories included in the agreement.

“Until the government includes the Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo, no lasting and significant peace will come to Mindanao,” Idjirani said.

“They should have seen that in the failure of the peace agreement with the Moro National Liberation Front of Nur Misuari,” he said.

“We thought the administration of President Aquino gave weight to ancestral and historic agreements. We were clearly wrong,” he added.

He said the sultanate’s “desire and intention” to be part of the peace process initiated by the government was expressed in a letter to former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo dated April 13, 2009.

In that letter signed by Sultan Jamalul Kiram III, he said, the government was acknowledged and referred to only as an ally in the sultanate’s ancestral and historic rights over the Sulu archipelago, which includes territories covered in the preliminary peace talks between the government and the MILF.

But Arroyo’s term ended in June 2010 with no agreement being reached with the MILF.

It was the Aquino administration that would clinch a preliminary peace deal with the MILF.

Heirs united
 
Idjirani said the signing of the framework agreement with the MILF led to the unification of the heirs of the Sultan of Sulu and their decision to proceed with claiming Sabah on their own.

Idjirani said the reported differences among the heirs were never personal but involved only policy and direction.

He said the direct descendants and heirs of the Sultan of Sulu and North Borneo were Sultan Jamalul Kiram III, Sultan Bantilan Esmail Kiram III, Datu Alianapia Kiram, Datu Phugdal Kiram, Datu Baduruddin Kiram and Rajah Mudah Agbimuddin Kiram, the crown prince who was tasked to lead the 1,000-strong civilian and military force to Sabah.

The “meeting of the minds” of the Kirams happened on Nov. 11 last year in a relative’s house, Idjirani said. It was during that meeting that Sultan Jamalul issued the royal decree that authorized Rajah Mudah’s journey to Sabah.  

With reports from Michael Lim Ubac, Jerome Aning, AFP and The Star-Asia News Network

SULTAN OF SULU: "Sabah is OUR Homeland, WE''ll Exercise Our Historic, Ancestral and Sovereign Right over Sabah"

Read here for more

SABAH CLAIM:  SULTAN OF SULU WON'T BUDGE

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Undaunted amidst mounting pressure from both the Philippine and Malaysian governments, Sultan Jamalul Kiram III, the acknowledged leader of the Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo insisted that his royal decree that authorized the presence of  his younger brother, crown prince Rajah Mudah Agbimuddin Kiram and the combined civilian and armed followers in Lahad Datu, Sabah, Malaysia, stays.

“My decree is not about war. We are not waging war. I sent my brother in Sabah in the name of peace and in exercise of our historic, ancestral and sovereign right over Sabah,” Jamalul told the INQUIRER in a phone interview facilitated through members of his family who were beside him as he was resting after undergoing his regular dialysis treatment.

Jamalul is in Metro Manila and is guarded by family and close relatives.

Asked as to until when his decree stays? Jamalul said, “For as long as necessary. Sabah is our homeland and the international community acknowledges this. If we have to go to the United Nations we will do so. It is upon us, the leaders of Sulu to claim back what is ours,” the sultan added.

Does he have any message for the Philippine government?

“Everything I want to tell the President, I already told him in a letter sent to him, shortly after he assumed the presidency in 2010. I told him in that letter that it is the noble dream of the Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo to achieve unity, peaceful survival and economic prosperity and to be able to achieve that, the Sabah issue cannot be ignored,” Jamalul said.

Jamalul is 74 years old, the eldest among the Kiram brothers who are direct descendants of the Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo. He ran and lost for senator in the 2007 National Elections under the Team Unity of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Abraham Julpa Idjirani, secretary general and spokesperson for the Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo said, Jamalul was supposed to meet on Saturday afternoon with some officials of the Aquino administration but was not able to do so because of the dialysis treatment.


 Jamalul’s wife Fatima Celia told the INQUIRER that her husband has been undergoing dialysis treatment for more than a year now.



Open to talks with Palace
 

Idjirani said, they are open to talks with any official sent by Malacañang as he was already contacted by several officials of the Aquino administration since the standoff in Lahad Datu, Malaysia, was reported in the media. He did not identify the officers who got in touch with him but mentioned the agencies these officials are attached to. “Magpahinga lang si Sultan Jamalul, at pag naka-pahinga na siya, puwede na naming harapin ang sinumang opisyal na gustong makipag-usap sa kanya (After resting, Sultan Jamalul can face any official who wants to talk to him),” Idjirani said.

The INQUIRER also learned from another independent source who wished not to be identified that President Benigno Aquino III was informed of the presence of civilian and armed supporters of the Sultanate of Sulu in Lahad Datu, Malaysia, as early as the morning of Feb. 11 through one of his Cabinet members. “But at that time, the report was still sketchy and we had no idea who the group was. But the President was alerted about this on Day 1 of their landing in Sabah,” the source said.

The Office of the Presidential Adviser in the Peace Process had no comment on Saturday on the Kirams’ claim that they were taking back Sabah.

In Lahad Datu in Sabah, Agbimuddin told the Inquirer that he only follows and receives order from Jamalul and no one else. No one can force us to leave. Even if I, as crown prince of the Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo is guarded by armed men belonging to our royal security forces, we will never provoke any encounter,” Agbimuddin said.

Assorted arms
 
Members of the royal security force are armed with assorted long firearms,  Agbimuddin said. “M-14, M-16, M203, Baby Armalite, basta assorted ang dala namin (we have all kinds),” he explained when asked what type of firearms they were carrying.

The active recruitment for members of the royal security force of the Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo, according to Agbimuddin, began in 1999 but training only began in 2001 in Simunol, Tawi-Tawi, Isabela, Basilan and even in mainland Zamboanga. “Sa Grand Stand pa nga kami ng Zamboanga nag-physical fitness exercise at alam ng Southcom ’yan (We do our physical fitness exercises at the Zamboanga grand stand, and the Southcom knew it),” Agbimuddin added.

The Southcom he is referring to is the Southern Command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines based in Zamboanga City and the Grand Stand is the one near Cawa-Cawa Boulevard.

Relatives on board
 
Who takes care of their logistics? Like food and other basic necessities since their landing in Lahad Datu?
Agbimuddin said, most of the residents of Tanduao, Lahad Datu, are Tausugs and relatives of the ones who went with him on board a motorboat from Tawi-Tawi. “Hindi kami magugutom dito at ang mga babae na kasama namin, sila ang nagluluto para sa amin (The women who are with us are doing the cooking).”
Will other groups with the Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo follow him in Lahad Datu?

More coming
 
Agbimuddin answered that was his understanding, but he said he didn’t know when. There might even be more, he said.

Another source from Sulu told the Inquirer that a group identified with a local political clan with a stronghold in one municipality there is reportedly getting ready to follow Agbimuddin in Sabah.

 The source identified the political leader as a relative of the Kirams and also a former mayor and a former member of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) known then as the “Tiger of the MNLF.”

“The mayor is getting ready and waiting for the order from Sultan Kiram III to proceed [to Sabah],” the source said in Filipino, adding that the influential leader in Sulu, now in his early 60s, command a force of more than 200 men.

Thursday, 14 February 2013

UMNO Leaders Plundering The Country's Wealth

Open letter to Tun Mahathir  from Deepak Jaikishan
13/02/2013

Dear Tun,

I refer to your statement "Ignore Deepak" as your advice to DS Najib & DS Rosmah, I also take heed of your advice to me to seek the courts involvement and not use political channels to claim my rights and remedies.

Tun,

For your kind information, this is exactly what I have been doing the last 2 years from 2010 till to date and the courts have been fair and granted Judgment in my favor, however Najib's administration is "ignoring" these Judgments and evidence produced in Courts and almost all the Government Institutions have either swept DS Rosmah dirt under the carpet or just not replying to our various written testimonies and Courts Judgment; as such I would like to seek Tun's advice. What would Tun do in my place? Being of similar paternal ancestral background I am sure what I put forward in this letter would be exactly what Tun would have done in my situation or already done under different circumstances when Tun wrote the "historic 17th.June 1969" open Letter to Tunku Abdul Rahman.

Tun,

I was raided by Bank Negara Malaysia in 2010 for foreign currency exchange through money changers amounting to substantial amount of Singapore Dollars and US Dollars. The investigation was for a period of six (6) weeks and we divulged that the foreign currency was delivered to DS Najib & DS Rosmah as payments for various deals that I had acted on as their conduit including Bangunan Angkasa Raya, Bukit Raja Land and Glomac Tower (Now known as Wisma Prestige).The matter was not pursued any further.

I was also asked to be part of an investigation by MACC into the sale of an office Building at KLCC to an International Islamic Bank, we had proved through payment slips, video statements and written testimony that I was merely acting as a conduit for DS Najib and DS Rosmah and monies were given by hand to both of them in various occasions over a period of two (2) years, Dato' Jamidan a senior Director of MACC who was also involved in the Sime Darby case.

Now why it is after such clear incriminating evidence till to date there has been no investigation on DS Rosmah, DS Najib or D.Nazim? This takes selective prosecution  to an entirely different level doesn't it? How does Tun suggest I seek duress then? Let's talk about my Court experience now.

Tun,

I had bought a 200 acres piece of land from Raja Ropiah in 2007 who is now UMNO Selangor Wanita Chief and BN Wanita Chief. We paid her cash RM 13,000,000.00 and issued a Land Bond (Bank Guarantee) of RM 72,500,000.00 to complete the purchase consideration. Raja Ropiah after collecting the money, purposely delayed the issuance of the Land Title to us by completely neglecting her responsibilities to deliver this Land Title and in the sly by committing CBT sold the land to another company at a higher price and also collecting close to RM 90,000,000.00 in cash and Bank Guarantees from them, this too while our "Land Bond" was still valid and collecting Rm 13,000,000.00 from us in cash. We also paid as disclosed in open court RM 8,000,000.00 to DS Najib family. I have lodged police reports and to date zero action has been taken on Raja Ropiah and the other "R"

Instead I had to go through a harrowing experience of receiving a Foreclosure notice called a "16 D" by non other that DS Najib brother's; D Johari Razak law firm Shearn Delamore exactly 24 hours after my press conference informing the media of the corruption and malpractice of this couple. Tun, pray advice me which bank does a foreclosure without even going through the legal process involved?

Anyway by sheer "coincidence" their foreclosure was for RM 30,000,000.00 and Boustead Holding suddenly appears out of nowhere to agree to Purchase our Company that owns this 200 Acre letter under the name of Asta Canggih Sdn Bhd for the same RM 30,000,000.00 !! Wonders of Wonders right ? The best part is Boustead also paid us in "advance" before signing the Agreement on condition that we withdraw the case from the courts immediately as the open court  date was in the same week, Now Tun, please advice me what you would have done in this circumstances?? The best part is that Raja Ropiah was paid a further RM 29,000,000.00 as her “sentence” for the CBT.

Tun,

We had sold a building to a subsidiary of an International Islamic Bank in 2008 and they defaulted in the payment to us in 2010 when the new shareholders came in, now we won this landmark case in court via a Judgment on 07th November 2012 and the Court Judgment found that an International Islamic Bank;-

a)  used unlawful means to conspire against us with the predominant purpose of injuring us

b)  Committed breach of the Letter of Undertaking they issued to us

c)  Involved in the issuance & release of fraudulent letters to injure us and our business

The bank was also exposed in open court of:-

i) Cheating its Depositors by purchasing Assets using an "associate" company where they initially claimed ownership of 19% but in actual fact owned 100% through A  "Declaration of Trust Deed" which they later were forced to admit in open Court upon the presentation of the "Declaration of Trust Deed"

ii) Cheating the various statutory bodies like Bank Negara Malaysia, SC, FIC and ROC by using these Malaysian nominees’ shareholders to circumvent foreign ownership declarations and Approvals required.

iii) Cheat Bank Negara Malaysia, by showing loans exceeding its own Paid up Capital at the material time as loans to third party Companies when in fact it was loans to its own subsidiary.

Tun,

We had written to Bank Negara Malaysia to take necessary action against this International Islamic Bank as per the Banking Laws:-

a) Removing the CEO immediately

b) Limiting or revoking the Bank's License to prevent the Bank from taking Depositors

c) Having the Bank announce this unlawful conspiracy and breach to depositors and share holders in Malaysia & the middle east where it is a Public Listed Company and  also Governed by a Board of Trustees.

Tun,

My numerous letters to Tan Sri Zeti and the Board of Directors of Bank Negara Malaysia till to date have remained unreplied, why? Because Bank Negara knows that D Rosmah and D Nazim was involved in the Building sale, why? Because our written and video testimony to MACC in 2011 has confirmed the involvement of both D Rosmah and D Nazim in the transcript including evidence of payments made.

Hence, Tun, having a court Judgment is not enough today in Malaysia where even our most sacred Institution Bank Negara Malaysia sings to the tune of D Rosmah and no longer "I did it my way" anymore.

May I ask Tun, do you want to see Barisan Nasional and Malaysia destroyed by these blatantly corrupt couple, I seek your advice, What do I do after going to Court and winning the case? All the institution is under the control of this Bonnie & Clyde couple? Where do we go from here? The International Court of Justice? The Media? Or The Opposition? Please advice me through your Wisdom Tun as I am both perplexed and disgusted with what has happened to Malaysia the last 11 years through the paralysis of our Government

I am sadly disappointed with Tun’s press statement asking that I be ignored, how can I be ignored when we are defending the same country’s dignity and integrity. Maybe Tun is listening to the wrong people who tell Tun that I am working with the opposition to topple the Government, Tun I am a nationalist, I won’t help anyone topple my country’s dignity, No ONE.

Tun, you yourself have said that Najib is very weak, which is a reality, the Chinese know the level of corruption is not going to end and the Malays know that only a handful of “elite” Malays get very rich and the rest rely on scholarship, KR1M, BR1M and DR1M, eventually we all will become beggars or maids at the rate things are going where our debt will hit RM 1 Trillion by 2014. Everyone knows that Najib is Santa Claus PM giving “cash” to everybody to win by BRIBING THE NATION!! Everyone knows the real PM is Rosmah and Najib is just the happy Santa Claus PM.

My concern is not only about the country going into riots during or after election but also if the military takes control in all the chaos that will precede a dirty election. With the risk of facing the severe consequences of my words, I ask that Tun M propose that Najib be asked to resign and his deputy to lead a refreshed BN into the election mode which must happen in the next 60 days.

Tun,

I hope that my letter is accepted by Tun in as sincere a manner that it is written for and that no matter how bitter the truth is, it will still remain the truth and will always prevail over the lies and denials of Plunderers and Murderers.

Yours Sincerely,

DEEPAK J TEKWANI

 http://bm.harakahdaily.net/index.php/berita-utama/16676--deepak-buat-surat-terbuka-untuk-dr-mahathir