Sultan of Sulu to revive Sabah Claim; asserts sovereignty, proprietary rights

A Special Report
Managing Editor

35th Sultan of the Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo (Sabah)

DARUL JAMBANGAN, Maimbung, Lupah Sug: The reigning ruler of the Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo (Sabah) vowed to revive the Sultanate’s claim over Sabah.

Coat of Arms of Sultan Muedzul-Lail Tan Kiram

Sultan Muedzul-Lail Tan Kiram, the 35th reigning monarch who succeeded his late father Sultan Mahakuttah Abdulla Kiram told the Philippine Muslim Today that he has decided to revive the Sabah Claim after what happened to the Twitter post of Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr. that Sabah is “rightfully its own.”

This has angered Malaysian Foreign Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein as published by Borneo Today. Speaking from Wisma Putra at Kementerian Luar Negeri (KLN) in Putrajaya, Kuala Lumpur, he said Locsin’s tweet that Sabah is not in Malaysia was “irresponsible” and would affect bilateral ties.

Minister Hussein stressed that “Sabah is, and will always be, part of Malaysia.”

However, Locsin in his reply on his Twitter account said, “No country can tell another what it can and cannot say about what the latter regards as rightfully its own.”

To the rescue of the Foreign Affairs Secretary

Sultan Kiram came to the rescue of Foreign Affairs Secretary Locsin. He said Malaysian Foreign Affairs Minister Hishamuddin has relied not only on fake news but on fake historical account as well.

He said perhaps KLN Minister Hishamuddin must go back to the basic; educate himself of true history not the fake history which they teach their children about Sabah.

“On the other hand, Foreign Affairs Secretary Locsin knows that Sultan Esmail E. Kiram (my grandfather) entrusted North Borneo now Sabah through the transfer of sovereignty to the Philippines in 1962. If Locsin brings this matter to the (US) State Department, certainly the agenda on the Sultanate of Sulu will be tackled,” stressed the Sultan.

In a nutshell, Sultan Kiram thanked the Foreign Affairs Secretary of the Philippines for asserting the ancestral rights of the Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo.

“We sincerely thank Philippine Secretary of Foreign Affairs Teodoro Locsin, Jr. for helping assert our ancestral rights. We hope the government of Malaysia understands the plight of the thousands of underprivileged and indigenous families of Sulu who barely survive in Sabah specially during this pandemic,” Sultan Kiram said.

Sabah continues to be our ancestral lands

The 35th Sultan of Sulu also emphasized that “North Borneo (Sabah) is and will always be part of the ancestral land of our people. The people of Sulu have lived in these islands for more than 600 years and will continue to do so in the centuries to come.”

In fact, His Majesty’s grandfather, the late Sultan Moh. Esmail Enang Kiram, was recognized by the Philippine government in 1957 as officially written on public records. Through him, the people of Sulu transferred the rights of North Borneo under the government of President Diosdado Macapagal in 1962.

However the said transfer of rights over North Borneo or Sabah had never lawfully ceded to the Republic of the Philippines, and therefore remains a sovereign and independent state.

The late Sultan Moh. Mahakuttah Abdulla Kiram, His Majesty’s father, and his own position as the Crown Prince of Sulu was made official through Memorandum Order No. 427 issued by the Office of the President the late Ferdinand E. Marcos in 1974. Since the demise of Sultan Mahakuttah in 1986 and despite limited resources, His Majesty has been busy working for his people as heir to the Sulu legacy.

Prime Minister Amroussi Rasul supports revival of Sabah Claim

As this developed, Amroussi Rasul, the son of the late Ambassador Abraham Rasul, who was the Prime Minister and Wazir to the 34th Sultan Mahakuttah Kiram, said they are fully supporting the revival of the Sabah Claim.

Amroussi who succeeded his father Ambraham is now the Prime Minister to Sultan Muedzul-Lail and also told the Philippine Muslim Today that as they extend their full support to the Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo (Sabah) they are hoping that the revival of the Sabah Claim will be fully supported by President Rodrigo R. Duterte through Foreign Affairs Secretary Locsin.

Finally Sultan Muedzul-Lail also called on the international community to intervene so that the bloody war that happened in 2013 in Lahad Datu that was waged by his uncle Rajah Muda Agbimuddin Kiram will not be repeated.

“We call upon the international community especially the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to assist us in achieving a common goal beneficial to all,” Sultan Kiram said.

Lahad Datu standoff

Sultan Kiram recalled the Lahad Datu standoff that happened in 2013 which was actually a military conflict involving the Royal Armed Forces of the Sultanate of Sulu against the Malaysian soldiers.

The Lahad Datu standoff started on February 11, 2013 and fully ended on the 24th of March 2013.

The conflict began when more than 200 fully armed members of the Royal Armed Forces of Sulu Sultanate under the leadership of Rajah Muda Agbimuddin Kiram arrived in Lahad Datu District in Sabah from their headquarters in Simunul Island, Tawi-Tawi.

According to Sultan Kiram the aftermath of Lahad Datu standoff caused untold sufferings of the followers of the Sultanate of Sulu in Sabah.

“Our close relatives and supporters who were not even party to the conflict were arrested,” Sultan Kiram disclosed.

Datu Amir Bahar Kiram Death Sentence

Sultan Kiram also divulged that his cousin, Datu Amir Bahar H. Kiram and 8 of his companions have been arrested and put in jail at Kota Kinabalu and they were sentenced to death by the Malaysian Federal Court.

Datu Amir Bahar is the son of the late Sultan Esmael D. Kiram and the latter was the younger brother of the late Sultan Jamalul D. Kiram III.

He said Datu Amir Bahar and his companions were earlier sentenced to life imprisonment but the prosecution appealed for the highest penalty of death.

“I am asking the Philippine government to act swiftly with every means necessary, to secure a stay of execution on the sentences and negotiate for commutation to life imprisonment,” he appealed.

Sultan Kiram said Datu Amir Bahar actually did not participate in the armed conflict during the Sabah incursion in 2013, otherwise known as the Lahad Datu Standoff of 2013.

“I ask everyone, to pray for a positive resolution of this matter and may Allah accept our prayers,” he said.

Sultan Muedzul-Lail T. Kiram as the 35th Sultan is also now asserting his official stand on three matters pertaining to the Sabah issue.

Summary of Sabah Claim

To summarize, the Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo (Sabah) was never lawfully ceded to the Republic of the Philippines, and therefore remains a sovereign and independent state.

He also said the stipulation in the Deed of 1878 that the lessees of North Borneo (Sabah) shall administer the territory for “as long as they choose or desire to use them” places it in the category of a “perpetual lease”, effective for 100 years under international law.

The Contract of Lease has therefore expired and possession over North Borneo should now be exercised by the Sultanate of Sulu, its rightful owner.

And finally he emphasized further that the heirs of Jamalul Kiram II do not have private ownership of Sabah. The territory continues to be owned by the Sultanate of Sulu, and not any private person.

There is no truth also to the allegations of Malaysia that the Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo (Sabah) has been abolished when the Philippines became a republic following the declaration of Philippine Independence on June 12, 1898.

“To make the record straight and clear, there was no single Sultan who had abdicated the throne,” Sultan Muedzul-Lail pointed out.

Most of all, the Sabah Claim has not been abandoned but the Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo (Sabah) is still pursuing until today the Sultanate claim over Sabah.

“We are very hopeful with this administration that it would once again tackle the issue of Sabah,” he optimistically said.

Sadly, like its predecessors this government has taken the path of neglect that has emboldened Malaysia to blatantly oppress our people and plunder the resources of our land.

“This continued policy of the Philippines of non-intervention had pushed a group of our people to take matters into their own hands just like what happened in February 11, 2013 that resulted in the Lahad Datu Standoff that caused several casualties from the Sultanate of Sulu combatants as well as from the side of the Malaysian soldiers as mentioned earlier,” Sultan Kiram further said. JULMUNIR I. JANNARAL

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