BUT MALAYSIA UNCERTAIN WHO TO DEAL WITH AS PRETENDERS MUDDLE UP THE PICTURE
By JULMUNIR I. JANNARAL
DARUL JAMBANGAN, Maimbung, Sulu: “One voice, one call Sultanate believes Malaysia is now willing to talk to the Philippine government to settle the Sabah issue. But the pretenders to the throne are muddling up the picture,” the Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo said.
In a statement, Amroussi Rasul, the Wazir or the Sultanate’s Prime Minister, who inherited the post from his father, also told the Philippine Muslim Today “there is only one legitimate Sultan of Sulu. His name is Sultan Muedzul-Lail Tan Kiram, descendant to Sultan Mahakuttah and Sultan Esmail, his father and grandfather, respectively, who were the Sultans of Sulu before him.”
According to Rasul, Sultan Muedzul took over the sultanate’s leadership from Sultan Jamalul Kiram III, the caretaker sultan, when Muedzul could not rule yet because he was too young when the throne got vacated for him.
A grainy black and white photograph of that enthronement ceremony exists. In that rare gem of history, present were the successors to the positions left by their patriarchs before them. They are the living witnesses to this transfer of power.
Among them was Amroussi Rasul, the Wazir or the Sultanate’s Prime Minister, who said “that is how successions work in the Sultanate.”
He added never has this historical bloodline succession been broken. The people of Sulu observe and honor this rule.
Rasul said it is unfortunate that self-proclaimed sultans have sprouted from the various clans in Sulu. Some of them come from the royal bloodline and are staking claims to the throne.
Just recently, another newspaper had mistakenly quoted another one who called himself as “the paramount sultan,” or sultan of all sultans — the highest one which does not exist.
Rasul, speaking for the Sultanate, laughed off this long line of pretenders.
“There are now many pretenders to the throne of Sulu, and Malaysia is exploiting this seeming division among the heirs so that it could divide them,” Rasul stated.
“There is only one Sultan Muedzul-Lail Tan Kiram. He rules and owns Sulu, including Sabah, despite giving its (Sabah’s) sovereignty for the national government to protect,” he added.
The Sultanate has recently revved up its claim to Sabah, the island it leased to the British North Borneo Co. after it received the territory as a gift from the Sultan of Brunei in the 15th century.
The island was owned by the Sultanate since then.
A twist in history, however, had mistakenly placed Sabah as part of the Malaysian Federation in 1963.
The fault dates back to the end of the last great war.
The British company leased the island because the British government knew that it was not part of territories it had colonized before World War II.
That lease was a recognition of the Sultanate of Sulu’s ownership of the island.
The British government had mistakenly turned over Sabah to Malaysia after the war. When the federation was formed, the people of Sabah — with mostly Malaysians casting their votes — decided to join the new grouping along with Sarawak and Singapore.
That was in 1963. Singapore was kicked out of the federation in 1964.
Earlier in 1962, however, the Philippine government had lodged its claim to the island.
It follows an earlier claim made by the Philippine Congress that was filed as early as 1950.
Both claims were initiated by Diosdado Macapagal, who was a congressman in 1950 and was President of the Republic of the Philippines in 1962.
Sabah is part of Sulu. It is owned by the Philippines.
The sultanate has given its sovereignty to the Philippines that early.
Malaysia, recognizing the Sultanate of Sulu’s ownership of Sabah, had long been paying the continuance of the lease until recently.
The other week, Malaysia filed a note verbale before the United Nations rejecting the Philippines’ claim to Sabah.
It was viewed by the Sultanate as a publicity stunt.
The latest Kuala Lumpur missive was in response to Manila’s challenge to Putrajaya’s plan to extend continental shelf in waters off the eastern state of Sabah.
Rasul said the Sultanate of Sulu believes Malaysia is willing to talk to the Philippine government to settle the Sabah issue. But the pretenders to the throne are muddling up the picture.
There are just too many them.
Rasul is asking President Rodrigo Duterte to stomp his foot now to silence these pretenders and make the Philippine government as the one strong voice that will talk on behalf of the Sultanate of Sulu.
Duterte had promised to fight for the Sabah cause.
The Sultanate is saying it is time to start inviting the Malaysians to the negotiating table. (JIJ)