Malaysia’s Political Outlook 2014: Key Challenges Facing Najib


December 26, 2013

RSIS No. 236/2013 dated 26 December 2013

Malaysia’s Political Outlook 2014: Key Challenges Facing Najib

by Yang Razali Kassim

Synopsis

Prime Minister Najib Razak’s top-most concern in the new year is not just UMNO’s dominance but also its very survival. Signals from the recent party general assembly point to a three-pronged strategy to achieve this aim.

Commentary

Rosmah and NajibMALAYSIAN PRIME Minister Najib Razak approaches 2014 with one big worry on his mind: how to win – decisively – the next general election (GE) that has to be called by 2018. The last one seven months ago on May 5 saw his ruling Barisan Nasional (National Front) coalition making its worst showing since 1969: despite winning the majority of seats, BN lost the popular vote to the opposition alliance led by Anwar Ibrahim.

As the new year begins, the big signal from Najib is that “1Malaysia” will probably have to be set aside as an electoral strategy. This is significant as it could mean that his vision of a unified, cohesive and inclusive plural society that was much touted in the 2013 GE – is as good as cast to the backburner.

Najib’s conservative swing

At the recent general assembly of UMNO, the anchor party of the multi-racial BN coalition, 1Malaysia was hardly mentioned in Najib’s keynote speech. Yet when resolutions were debated, one delegate sought to kill the whole idea, calling for 1Malaysia to be replaced by “1Melayu” – or 1Malay, referring to the majority community that UMNO represents.

Najib did not respond in defence of 1Malaysia. Instead his entire rhetoric during the assembly was primarily about advancing the Malay and Muslim agenda – signifying a major refocusing on this core constituency as UMNO gears up early for the 14th GE.

Unchallenged as president in party elections prior to the assembly, Najib has one TDMeye on his own political survival. The still influential former Prime Mnister Mahathir Mohamad has been uneasy about the BN’s worst showing at the May 5 polls and may want to ease Najib out, just as he did to Najib’s predecessor Abdullah Badawi. As his popularity dips due to some economic belt-tightening policies expected in the new year, Najib’s swing to appease the UMNO conservatives is not surprising.

Party hardliners are convinced that the multi-ethnic BN’s political survival rests increasingly with UMNO, whose survival in turn rests on the Malay constituency, which is synonymously Muslim. While 1Malaysia was designed to embrace all the races, its failure to attract the non-Malays, especially the ethnic Chinese, at the last

GE has weakened Najib’s hand.

The conservative faction’s argument is this: Forget about winning over the non-Malay vote and focus on expanding the Malay/Muslim ground. UMNO is strong enough to stand on its own; while the BN coalition won 133 seats overall in GE13, UMNO alone, as its anchor, won the most seats with 88 – even more than any of the opposition parties, whose combined tally of 89 seats was just one more than UMNO’s. In other words, it is UMNO that will remain the backbone of the political system. Thus Malay political power will be pivotal to the country – from political stability and security to economic progress and development.

UMNO’s three-pronged strategy towards GE14

This conservative logic formed the bedrock of the “back to basics” strategy that was spelt out by Najib, whose speech was themed “Fortifying the Future”. Going forward, UMNO will pursue three strategic thrusts – or what Najib called the “three messages from the assembly”: The first is a turn towards Islamic Shariah; the second is a stronger Malay and bumiputra agenda, for which, he said, UMNO need not be apologetic; and the third a “transformed UMNO” as a “party of the 21st century”. It is significant that UMNO as the “party of the future” will become not just more Malay, but Islamist at the same time.

Becoming more Islamist for a Malay-nationalist party like UMNO is an equally significant shift. Ideologically-driven Islamist parties actually find ethno-nationalism objectionable. UMNO clearly is positioning itself as the primary political vehicle for the Malay and Muslim constituency, thus raising the prospects of an all-out contest for power with the opposition Islamist PAS, even as UMNO – paradoxically – woos PAS for unity talks.

Umno's embelmUMNO’s drift towards a more Islamist identity was marked by a highly controversial drive to pitch itself as the defender of Sunni Islam in the face of what it paints as the growing threat of Shiism in the country. The federal constitution would be reworded to define the official religion as “Islam Sunnah Wal Jamaah” or Sunni Islam, not simply Islam. That this move is partly politically-motivated is seen in the immediate targeting of the PAS deputy leader as a closet Shia and therefore a threat.

The second thrust of a greater push for the Malay and bumiputra agenda is clearly aimed at solidifying the Peninsular-East Malaysia axis around the Malay core. Najib conceded the crucial role of the “fixed deposit” states of Sabah and Sarawak in BN’s ultimate win in the last GE. As many see it, if not for these two states, there would have been a change of government in Malaysia. With Najib’s renewed emphasis on the Malay and bumiputra agenda, the New Economic Policy that officially ended in 1990 but was unofficially continued, has finally been resurrected in all but name. CEOs of all government-linked companies have been given KPIs to realise this goal on pain of seeing their contracts not renewed.

To complete the three-pronged strategy, UMNO will go all out to win the young voters. In the next GE, some six million new voters will be casting for the first time. The majority are likely to be anti-establishment and anti-UMNO. They could make a difference whether there will finally be a change of government or not in GE14. No wonder Najib made it clear: UMNO must win over the young voters and master the social media with which the young are savvy.

Implications

UMNO’s eagerness to recover its eroded political ground has seen it responding in unexpected ways, with implications yet to be fully fathomed. Its readiness to march to its own drumbeat is a warning to friend and foe alike that the rules of the game will be set by UMNO alone.

To its ethnic-based political allies in BN, which are facing their own internal crises, the message is that the BN power-sharing system will be on UMNO’s terms. To the opposition, the message is clear: whoever controls the Malay and Muslim ground will control power – and it is not going to be the opposition, which is not homogenous ethnically and ideologically.

UMNO is desperate to win. Going forward, all communities will be forced to ponder what this means for them and the country.

Yang Razali Kassim is a Senior Fellow at S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University.

The Allah Issue will not just go away,so get real


October 15, 2013

The Allah Issue will not just go away,so get real

by Zaid Ibrahim

COMMENT: The Court of Appeal (CoA), as expected, has reversed thezaid Kuala Lumpur High Court decision on the use of ‘Allah’ by Catholic weekly The Herald.

The CoA, however, took a long time to hear and decide on the appeal, and this has enabled the general election to be safely tucked away without anyone having to worry about any adverse effect the decision might have had, had it been delivered earlier.

Before my fellow-Muslims think that the decision is a great victory for them, I must urge them to think properly. The decision may be a big victory for some Muslim NGOs or Nasharuddin Mat Isa, Ibrahim Ali  and Hassan Ali, but for the rest of the Ummah it will matter very little.

The decision binds only The Herald. How many Muslims read it? How many are threatened by anything besides their own insecurities? Besides, someone can always produce another publication with a new name and the controversy will start all over again.

Loud Mouth Zahid HamidiThe Home Minister will issue yet another directive that the new publication is ‘against public order’ and lawyers will be busy, as will Ibrahim Ali and his gang. Yet another public quarrel will ensue, and this will go on and on.

The CoA decision is limited to The Herald alone. This does not, and should not, mean that Christians are prohibited from using ‘Allah’ in their prayers, or that they are prohibited at all in Sabah and Sarawak.

Christians beyond The Herald (and Catholics too), can still use that Name whenever they want to, and in any celebration they have. Of course, some Muslim NGOs will counter this new situation and go to court yet again to stop all Christians, regardless of denomination, from using ‘Allah’ on any occasion, religious or otherwise.

They will probably seek to widen the scope of the original government order to include prohibiting Christians and other non-Muslims from using ‘Allah’ at all under any circumstance. What about Sikhs? Sikhs can’t be bound by an order limited to a single Catholic newspaper.

The CoA has also ventured into new territory, although I shall let my colleagues who are more learned in this part of the law dissect the judgement.

All I can gather from the CoA decision is this: Islam has primacy over other faiths and, if Muslims are upset about some part of the practice of non-Muslims – and the Minister issues an order to stop non-Muslims from that practice – then the order is considered ‘valid’.  The CoA has also made it clear that it will never disagree with the Minister’s order.

How will this be enforced?

Religious people fear God more than the courts, whether they are Muslims or not. This judgment means nothing to the God-fearing Christians.

The court can declare whatever it wants and some Christians (and those of other faiths, and perhaps Muslims too) will do whatever religion requires of them, regardless of the cost to themselves or others.

Religion has that effect on some people. It can drive emotion beyond reason. But many regular Christians believe that ‘Allah’ is the right Name for God. They will continue to use that Name and the Courts will not be able to do anything about it. How can anyone initiate contempt proceedings against so many people?

The courts will then look stupid – how do will they enforce such orders? This is the scenario I foresee happening in the coming years of this so-called 1Malaysia. Silly things will continue.

Likewise, Muslims will fight this ‘battle’ for years to come, and they will be so preoccupied by this war over God’s Name against Christians and other infidels that no one will have little time left for education, their families and their  general economic improvement.

This is why I sometimes think that this is all part of the Jewish-Freemason-Communist-Illuminati-American-Martian (insert favourite bugbear here) conspiracy—to sidetrack the Muslims, Christians, and everyone else from focusing on what truly matters in life.

We are made to think that we need to continue to fight great battles and to seek great victories. Maybe we want to think it.

Get real.


ZAID IBRAHIM, a lawyer by training, was involved in politics for a time. This article is reproduced from his blog ‘The Zaidgeist’.

Dr Mahathir Mohamad asks What’s Project IC?


April 27, 2013

Malaysiakini reports: Dr Mahathir Mohamad asks What’s Project IC

http://www.malaysiakini.com (04-25-13)

Dr Mahathir-nstFormer Premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad claimed ignorance at the existence of “Project IC” during a live television interview programme before justifying the granting of citizenship to foreigners in Sabah.

“What project is this? What is IC?” said Mahathir, whose facial experience appear as though he was confounded by ntv7 interviewer Sheahnee Iman Lee’s question.

When pointed out that the “Project IC” was the subject of a Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI), Mahathir replied: “Right. Oh, the one in Sabah? Mahathir went on to provide his side of the story on how he, as Prime Minister, had instructed government agencies to recognised qualified migrants as citizens in Sabah.

His argument was that these people spoke Malay and that their children could not go to school because they were not considered citizens.

“As a matter of charity, almost, we decided (that) they have been working Project ICthere, they speak Malay and why can’t we consider them as out citizens?

“Tunku Abdul Rahman gave one million citizenships to people who couldn’t speak a single word of Malay and their children also do not qualify.

“If you going to be a citizen, you have to be tested on whether you are able to speak Malay or not. But the people in Sabah can. The one million that we gave (before Independence), why no questions were asked?” said Mahathir.

Right hand men involved

Megat JMahathir was said this during a special primetime programme on ntv7 last night called ‘Chattime with Tun Dr Mahathir’ which lasted an hour.

Over the past three decades, Sabah’s population had rose exponentially and is blamed on a clandestine effort by the Mahathir-administration to alter the state’s demographics for political reasons.

Sabah once had a non-Muslim majority, but that is now no longer the case. Testimonies from civil servants to the Sabah RCI have shown a link between organised efforts to increase Sabah’s Muslim population with a plot to vote out the Parti Bersatu Sabah government in 1994.

Other testimonies showed that two of Mahathir’s right hand men wereaziz-shamsuddin involved ordering various activities that were later referred to as Project IC or Project M by those investigating the population boom.

Cronyism

On cronyism, Mahathir said his administration had helped certain people with business acumen because those with a track record were more likely to succeed.

“If you give one million dollars to a trishaw peddler, is he going to make use of it? He is going to consume it.But if you give it to a person with the ability to do business he is going to make use of the opportunity and the capital in order to grow his business. And when he grows his business, obviously he will be quite well known, he is considered a crony. The real cronies who fail, nobody mentions about them,” he said.

Mahathir said that the government helped those with capacity because helping those who cannot grow a business will not contribute to the economy.

Muhasabah Lahad Datu


April 6, 2013

Muhasabah Lahad Datu

oleh Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang@http://www.themalaysianinsider.com

Hadi-Awang-PAS-For-All5hb April, 2013–Peristiwa berdarah di Lahad Datu menjadi ujian kebijaksanaan kerajaan dan kesetiaan seluruh rakyat terhadap negara.

Walau pun berbeza kaum, agama dan fahaman politik, namun tugas mempertahankan negara apabila diceroboh dan keselamatannya diganggu gugat adalah kewajipan bersama mengikut agama, adat dan akal yang waras.

Maka Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS) dan seluruh ahlinya mendoakan Allah melimpahkan rahmat kepada anggota keselamatan yang terkorban dan dimasukkan ke dalam kalangan para syuhada, sekurang-kurangnya syahid akhirat dan disembuhkan mereka yang tercedera, serta dikembalikan keamanan dan keselamatan negara.

Walau bagaimana pun muhasabah wajib dilakukan terhadap kerajaan yang diamanahkan menjaga keselamatan negara. Dalam hal ini pihak tentera dan polis tidak boleh dipersalahkan, kerana banyak asas dari sudut politik yang kukuh menunjukan bahawa peristiwa seperti itu tidak sepatutnya berlaku.

Pasukan keselamatan juga tidak sepatutnya menjadi mangsa korban musuh yang tercipta dengan sebab kecuaian politik mereka yang memimpin negara sejak mencapai kemerdekaan lebih 50 tahun yang lalu.

Persoalan asas yang kita ingin tanya ialah: “Mengapa asas keharmonian yang sedia ada di daerah itu tidak dijaga dan dibina dengan baik?”

Hakikatnmya ialah, kedudukan serantau, kejiranan, serumpun, sekelurga dan se agama cuma dipisahkan oleh sempadan geografi dua negara. Malaysia mempunyai hubungan kejiranan dengan Filipina, dan sama-sama menjadi anggota ASEAN sejak penubuhannya pada 8 Ogos 1967 lagi.

Orang-orang Suluk, atau grup etnik Tausug pula mempunyai hubunganNajib-Op Daulat keluarga, agama dan budaya yang sama dengan sebahagian besar penduduk keturunan Sulu di Sabah yang sukar dipisahkan. Hubungan rapat ini menjadikan aktiviti keluar-masuk antara rakyat kedua-dua negara berada pada kedudukan yang paling sukar untuk dikawal secara keras oleh pasukan keselamatan yang bertugas.

Tragedi ini berlaku kerana pihak politik yang berkuasa tidak menyelesaikan akar-usul masalah ini secara bijaksanaan sehingga berlakulah kemalangan yang sangat menyayat hati itu. Di samping kemarahan membara terhadap penceroboh yang tidak beretika, namun sifat kemanusiaan tetap berada dalam setiap orang yang berperasaan.

Muhasabah wajib dilakukan dengan meneliti dan memahami kerana beberapa perkara.

Pertama, pemisahan secara sempadan negara yang berbeza dimulakan oleh penjajah asing terhadap rantau ini, mereka sengaja meninggalkan bom jangka selepas mereka meninggalkan tanah jajahan dengan niat jahat, setelah mereka melaksanakan agenda pecah dan perintah di zaman penjajahan dahulu. Bukan sahaja pembahagian rantau ini di antara penjajah Inggeris, Belanda dan Sepanyol dan selepasnya Amerika juga mengambil tempat di Filipina secara khusus.

hishammuddin-hussein-in-lahad-datu-300x225Kedua, perjanjian juga di buat oleh penjajah ini secara menipu sultan-sultan dan raja-raja yang dilemah dan dihilangkan kedaulatannya.

Ketiga, setelah masing-masing mencapai kemerdekaan dengan negara yang berbeza dan mempunyai kedaulatannya, mengapa segala syarat perjanjian yang sudah lapuk di zaman penjajah yang sudah pulang ke negeri masing-masing, dengan pihak yang sudah diletakkan dalam lipatan sejarah masih lagi wujud? Mengapakah pihak kerajaan dalam negara kita ini masih menghidupkan lagi perjanjian seperti ini?

Keempat, negara Malaysia dan Filipina pula yang terlibat secara lansung dalam perjanjian damai yang memberi kuasa otonomi kepada bangsa Moro di Mindanao. Mengapa terlepas pandang terhadap wiliyah dan kepuluan yang lain bersamanya, sehingga penyelesaiannya tidak lengkap dan masalahnya tidak selesai?

Perkembangan pendidikan, ekonomi dan sosial terbiar dan terus terbiar, kerana kerajaan UMNO lebih menumpukan kepentingan politik mengejar kerusi mendapat takhta dan harta semata-mata, tanpa perhatian terhadap pendidikan, ekonomi dan social di kawasan berkenaan. Rakyat miskin terus di rumah dalam air sejak turun temurun, hanya segelintir di daratan dengan kemudahan yang terhad tanpa penyelesaian.

Semua kecuaian tanpa cakna ini boleh menempah kesan negatif dalam kehidupan dan boleh mencetuskan ketegangan berbagai kaum. Semua perkara ini perlu dimuhasabah dengan adil dan ikhlas walaupun tercalar diri sendiri.

Tindakan ketenteraan mempertahankan kedaulatan negara, langkah menjaga keselamatan rakyat wajib dilaksanakan dengan berhemat, dalam masa yang sama jalinan hubungan tersebut di atas wajib diperbetulkan.

Jangan ikut contoh buruk yang pernah dilakukan oleh penjajah semasa sulu lahad datu soldiersdarurat dahulu, penyelsaiannya secara mengepung dan memaksa semata-mata tanpa pendekatan yang lain. Perlu difahami bahawa perasaan manusia tidak boleh dikepung dan dikongkong sepanjang masa, walau pun jasadnya dikepung dan dikongkong secara paksaan .

Peristiwa 13 Mei 1969 wajar menjadi iktibar apabila ianya ditangani sendiri oleh pemimpin di masa itu. Ditubuhkan Jawatankuasa Muhibbah melibatkan kerajaan dan seluruh pemimpin masyarakat, agama dan kaum yang berpengaruh tanpa mengira perbezaan agama, kaum dan politik. Seterusnya ditangani secara politik, ekonomi, pendidikan dan lain-lain.

Konfrantasi dengan Indonesia juga dapat ditamatkan dengan pendekatan ini, walau pun ada yang terkoban dan cedera, akhirnya berakhir dengan damai tanpa dendam.

Janganlah pihak kerajaan UMNO-BN terus menerus berdegil tidak mengaku kesilapan atau mahu menangguk di air keruh, kerana kedua-duanya akan menenggelamkan kita semua, atau laksana Pakistan yang melahirkan Bangladesh.

* Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang adalah Presiden PAS.

King Ghaz and the Question of the “Sabah Claim”


March 30, 2013

King Ghaz and the Question of the “Sabah Claim”

Hamzahby Dato Hamzah Abdul Majid*

Fast forward to a morning in July 1962, I was reporting for duty at the Ministry of External Affairs (now Ministry of Foreign Affairs-Wisma Putra). The Ministry was located at the (then) Selangor State Secretariat Building (now Bangunan Sultan Abdul Samad), directly opposite  the (Royal) Selangor Club.  It shared the  building with the Treasury and a few other government departments.

Meeting King Ghaz (The Boss) of Foreign Affairs and his Professionals

I reported to the Assistant Secretary (Administration) Encik Hanafiah Ahmad (later Chief of Tabung Haji and now Tan Sri). A slight gentleman with glasses, he was friendly and helpful. With all the formalities completed, Encik Hanafiah took me to YM Tengku Ngah Mohamed, the Deputy Secretary of Ministry.

Ghazali ShafieThe pipe smoking Tengku Ngah informed me that I would be assigned to the Ministry’s Political Division reporting to my immediate superior, Principal Assistant Secretary (Political Division) Raja Aznam Raja Ahmad (later Tan Sri), a well- educated Malay aristocrat with impeccable manners.

Raja Aznam briefed me on the role of the Ministry and its structure, Right at the top was the Prime Minister (Tengku Abdul Rahman) and concurrently  Minister of External Affairs. The top  Diplomatic Service Officer was the Permanent Secretary, Encik Muhammad Ghazali Shafie.

Raja Aznam took me to the Permanent Secretary’s Office where I was introduced to the redoubtable Matthew Josef, Personal Assistant to the Boss. Josef looked at me and said, “The Permanent Secretary is expecting you. Come in, he will see you now, Good Luck.

With that he took me into the Boss’ spacious wood-panel office. Directly in front of me were a set of sofa and 2 deep armchairs. To my left was a large somewhat semi-circular desk. Behind the desk was the Man himself. I recognised him at once. The same ear of a man that I met five years earlier in the Radio Malaya studio–in command, confident, even arrogant.

He then asked me if I knew that we had a diplomatic issue with Indonesia and the Philippines  over our intention to invite North Borneo and Sarawak  to form Malaysia. I told him only from I read in the newspapers. Again that glare. He snapped, “then, write me a brief summary of how you understand the situation…Get to work.”

Zainal Abidin Sulong and Jack de Silva

Raja Aznam introduced me to Zainal Abidin Sulong (later Tan Sri) who hadZainal_Abidin_Sulong just returned from a posting in the United Nations, New York. Zainal was an excellent office mate–well informed, calm, hardworking and with a sense of humour. He was always busy drafting. From time to time, the Boss would barge into the room and growl instructions to him.

Zainal (left)  would slowly stand up. listen patiently and, when the Boss left, quietly resume his work. He was widely liked and respected. His knowledge of the personalities involved in North Borneo, Sarawak, Singapore, Brunei and Indonesia was encyclopedic, and the Boss depended heavily on him.  Next to the Boss, I would say Zainal was to play an exceedingly important role in the formation of Malaysia.

In the next room was Jack de Silva, a Catholic and strongly anti-Marxist. He  had served as First Secretary  in our High Commission in London. Articulate, gregarious, chain smoking, Jack was a hard driving officer with a mercurial temperament and a prolific drafter of documents and reports. I got my ‘sea legs’ in the ministry while sharing the small office with Zainal.

Tunku’s Singapore Statement on the Formation of Malaysia

On May 27, 1961, the Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman had made a historic statement in Singapore proposing the formation of Malaysia. The (then) Federation of Malaya was intent on inviting British North Borneo (now Sabah) and Sarawak to join in and from a new nation, Malaysia.

Initially, the Philippine government did not react. But after the election of Diosdado Macapagal as president in December 1961 the “Sabah Claim” emerged as a factor. It had been on the “back burner” for a while, as it was an issue only between the Philippine and British governments.

The  “Sabah Claim”

Now with the formation of Malaysia becoming reality, the clamour in the Philippine media grew stronger. The momentum built up quickly, and emotions morphed into policy.

MacapagalIndonesia, headed by President Sukarno regarded North Borneo and Sarawak as part of Indonesian Kalimantan and claimed to be the rightful heir when the British finally withdrew.

Thus Sukarno and Macapagal joined forces in opposition to the Tunku’s proposal. Macapagal (left) hoisted a Philippine “claim” on Sabah and Sukarno vowed to “ganyang” (crush) Malaysia.

Both Indonesia and the Philippines regarded the idea of Malaysia as a “Neo-colonialist plot”. They claimed that the British no longer had any moral authority to hold on to the two colonies and were using the concept of Malaysia to perpetuate their influence in the region.

The Boss  was the main figure in the gathering storm, helping PrimeTun Razak with Tunku Minister and his illustrious Deputy, Tun Abdul Razak, and tasked to design and implement a strategy to bring about the formation of Malaysia.

A team of competent and dedicated officers in the ministry was assigned to assist the Boss. They did a Herculean task of keeping in touch with events and developments in North Borneo and Sarawak, in the United Nations,in our neigbouring countries, and among our allies.  It was a small but effective and ably led team.

Sometime in April, 1963, the Boss told me that there would be a meeting of top diplomatic officials of Malaya, Indonesia and the Philippines at the Padre Faura (the Philippine Foreign Ministry) in Manila. He would lead the Malaysian Delegation and I was to attend it as a member.

Bertie TallalaThe Boss said, “You can stay with Bertie (now Dato Albert Tallala). You know Bertie, don’t you? I think you both the same University (in Dublin). Bertie (left) had graduated the year before I joined.

On the morning of the meeting, the Boss, Ambassador Zaiton Ibrahim Ahmad, First Secretary Hashim Sam-Latiff were greeted by Pete Angora Aragon, Chief of Protocol at the Padre Faura and taken to the reception room where Philippine Undersecretary Salvador P. Lopez and the Indonesian First Deputy Foreign Minister Dr. Suwito Kusumowidagdo were waiting. The three men greeted one another warmly. Lopez was the very epitome of Philippine charm and bonhomie and Dr Kusumo was all smiles. Each diplomat tried to project an air of earnest amity.

Right of Self Determination

This meeting was in every sense historic. It was the first time that the three adversary countries actually sat down at the official level to try to solve their problems diplomatically and avoid a military conflict. From the outset the Boss took the position that the two territories should not be viewed as pieces of real estate, devoid of human inhabitants, to be carved up and divided cynically by neighbouring countries.

There was need to ascertain the wishes of the people of the two territories, as appointed-members-cobbold-comm-Feb-1962was undertaken and reaffirmed by the Cobbold Commission in its Report dated August 1, 1962.

But both the Philippines and Indonesia did not accept the Cobbold Report as the last word on the wishes of the people of North Borneo and Sarawak.

Clearly, these officials could decide on the issue after several days of deliberations (April 9-17, 1963). It was finally agreed that the meeting would recommend to their respective governments that the Foreign Ministers of the three countries should meet early in May. They further agreed to recommend that the Foreign Ministers meeting should be followed by a meeting of the Heads of Government of the three countries.

Two more Tripartite meetings followed. One  was at the Foreign Ministers’ level on June 7-11, 1963, where our side was led by the Deputy Prime Minister Tun Abdul Razak. The Philippine delegation was led by Vice President Emanuel Pelaez, Dr. Subandrio headed the Indonesian side. The Ministers reaffirmed in the Manila Accord (Clause 10) the principle of self-determination and “would welcome the formation of Malaysia provided support of people of the Borneo territories is ascertained by an independent and impartial authority, the Secretary-General of the United Nations or his representative”.

As quid pro, Malaysia “undertook to consult the Government of the Borneo territories with a view to inviting the Secretary-General of the United Nations or his representative to take the necessary  steps in order to ascertain the wishes of people of those territories.” (Clause 11).

Clause 12  reflected the long discussion on the issue of the Sabah claim and the subdued compromise that the Foreign Ministers “took note” of the Philippine claim to North Borneo and its rights to pursue it in accordance with international law and the peaceful settlement of  disputes. This was another fig leaf that we could live with, but it was  to lead to lingering tensions with the Philippines.

The successful June 7-11 Foreign Ministers meeting paved the way for the Summit Meeting of Malaya’s Tunku Abdul Rahman, Indonesia’s President Sukarno and Philippine President Macapagal which produced the Manila Declaration of August 5, 1963. The Heads of Government of Malaya, Indonesia and the Philippines “welcomed” the formation of Malaysia.

Eventually, with the fall of Sukarno and with the installation of the New Order government led by General Suharto, Malaysia reached an amicable solution with Indonesia. However, normalisation of relations with the Philippines took longer as the issue of the Sabah claim lingered on. In fact, bilateral relations underwent some strains over the issue.

Malaysia will not enter into any further dialogue on the Question of the Claim

A defining bilateral meeting was held in Bangkok, Thailand on July 15, 1968. The Philippine delegation was led by Ambassador Guerrero, an aggressive diplomat who played hardball. The Malaysian delegation included the brilliant lawyer R.Ramani (who was also our Permanent Representative to the United Nations), Zainal Abidin Sulong and Zain Azraai.

This meeting did not start, nor did it end for that matter, too auspiciously.The Philippine delegation began with tactical moves to cause delays and with sweeping dicta and claims. It declared that its claim on Sabah was valid based on history and on its own security arrangements and made clear that it would not entertain any further clarifications sought by Malaysia.

The Boss rose to the occasion and demolished the Philippine claim with devastating logic and I quote:

“…Our questions indicated that we wished to challenge your basic assumption that the Sultan of Sulu had in fact sovereignty over the territory. his rights and powers over which he purported to convey to Dent and Overbeck in 1878. We did receive any precise answer from you on this question; and you were unable to point to anything in support of the Sultan’s claim to sovereignty, except to say in the vaguest terms that the Sultan of Brunei had ceded the territory to him, and you mentioned several dates when such cessation was understood to have taken place…

“We drew your attention to various authorities which cited different dates when the Sultan of Sulu acquired some rights and powers over the territory. Was it therefore in 1650, or was it in 1704, or was it about 1836, or near 1842, or was it 1878? You yourself gave several possible dates. It did not seem to occur to you that each particular date destroyed every other date and the fact of cession was, thereby, at the highest, left in doubt. Nor were you able to indicate the circumstances of his acquisition, whether rebellion in the territories of Brunei, a war of succession or an act of capitulation…

“We drew your attention to the documents of that time…Whether your case should not go no further than mere assertion of Sulu sovereignty…You are unable to do so, and we did not any intelligible answer from you as this, except that you had not heard of the Anglo-Philippine Talks in London in 1963…

“… in fighting subversion and terrorism Malaysia has the best record in this region…Malaysia has a good record of cooperation with Thailand and Indonesia on these matters. It is common knowledge that Malaysia and Thailand have a working arrangement on the Malaysian/Thai border…likewise along the Malaysian/Indonesian border.”

He concluded his long address with…

“Let me say this once again, Excellency. Do not pursue your claim to Sabah in order to satisfy these economic and security needs. These can only be fulfilled through cooperation with us. But your persistent pursuit of the claim will destroy that cooperation and therefore will not achieve for you the very things which you desire most for your economy and security…

“Therefore, let us maintain the good relations between our two countries and discuss our common needs. But at the same time let it be clearly understood that my Government will not enter into any further dialogue on the question of the Claim, or with that claim as its basis”.

__________________

*The above by Dato Hamzah Abdul Majid is an abridged and edited excerpt of his tribute titled King Ghaz: Personal Recollection, which appears in the National Archives publication titled King Ghaz: A Man of Time (2010) edited by Dato Seri Utama Dr. Rais Yatim.

I have chosen parts that deal with the Philippine Claim on Sabah. It is intended to provide a historical account of what happened during the period leading to the formation of Malaysia in 1963. Dato Hamzah was a member of the Malaysian foreign policy team led by (Tun) Muhammad Ghazali Shafie that dealt with the struggle to form Malaysia.

Filipino politicians are now apparently using the Lahad Datu Incursion as a pretext to revive  this issue  of the Sultan of Sulu’s claim on Sabah which is now a sovereign state in Malaysia. As far as Dato Hamzah and I are concerned, this matter should be put to rest in the interest of good relations between the Philippines and our country. Sabah belongs in Malaysia and the Philippines must learn to respect the wishes of the people of Sabah to be part of Malaysia.–Din Merican

Also read this :http://www.dlsu.edu.ph/research/journals/apssr/pdf/200712/4Fernandez.pdf

NO Deal on Sabah: Sabahans are Malaysians


March 23, 2013

NO Deal on Sabah: Sabahans are Malaysians

by Raymond Tombung@http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com

Sabah LogoThe Sabah claim will continue to be raised by the Phlippines and Sulu as it is powerful and emotive international issue which many leaders in Manila will find convenient to bleed for political mileage. And the many “sultans” in Sulu will continue to cast their hungry eyes at Sabah, considered to be “the last gold coin” and aspire, albeit hopelessly, to try and achieve the impossible.

But Malaysians, especially Sabahans, should be able to give a cogent argument on the issue of this claim and in favour of Sabah.All Malaysians and Sabahans need is three or four historical facts, events or political realities to win the argument.

So let’s always keep clear knowledge of the following:

1. The controversy arising from the 1878 treaty between Jamalul Alam and British North Borneo Company.It can strongly be argued that it was a “cession” and not a “lease” as claimed by Filipinos.

Note that any argument on the matter was decisively clarified and settled when on April 22, 1903, Sultan Jamalul Kiram signed a document known as “Confirmation of Cession of certain Islands” in which he says the 1878 treaty was a CESSION.

The “confirmation” of the 1878 treaty says specifically that “We, the Sultan of Sulu, state with truth and clearness that we have ceded to the Government of British North Borneo of our own pleasure all the islands that are near the territory of North Borneo… This is done because the names of the islands were not mentioned in the 22nd January, 1878 [treaty]… that the islands were included in the cession…”

2. The purpose of the Madrid Protocol of 1885 was to recognise the sovereignty of Spain in the Sulu Archipelago and also for Spain to relinquish all claims it might have had over North Borneo.

Article III of the protocol states that “The Spanish Government renounces… all claims of sovereignty over the territories of the continent of Borneo, which belong, or which have belonged in the past to the Sultan of Sulu [Jolo]….”

3. The signing of the Carpenter Agreement on March 22, 1915 in which Sultan Jamalul Kiram II was stripped off all temporal (worldly) power and retained only the empty title of Sultan. His claimed ownership of North Borneo was of no concern to the American colonists.

4. The Macaskie Dictum (Judgment) of 1939. This judgment doesn’t settle the argument although Macaskie said the annual payment was cession money and not rental money and that the nine plaintiff heirs were entitled to.

These payments, however, in no way had anything to do with territorial property. This is because a later translation by the Filipinos of the original 1878 treaty (written in Malayan Jawi) said the agreement was a “pajak” which they say meant “lease”.

(Today “pajak” can mean “purchase”). But even this judgment was preceded by the addition “cession” of 1903 and the Madrid Protocol of 1885.

Power of Attorney questionable

5. The Sulu “sultans” cannot claim Sabah because there is no more a Sulu sultanate and there is no more any real sultan. The only legitimate royal group in Sulu are the descendants of the nine heirs who went to Macaskie in 1939.

6. Sulu (a region of the Philippines without any national sovereignty) cannot claim Sabah which is part of Malaysia – a sovereign nation.Only a country can claim another country or a part of another country. This,therefore,means Sulu has no locus standi to claim Sabah. The power of attorney that was given to Macapagal by the Sulu Sultan to give Diosdado Macapagal the “authority” to claim Sabah on Sulu’s behalf (now withdrawn) has very questionable validity.

Maybe this is one of the reasons why Manila had not really pursued the claim using the so-called power of attorney.

7. Manila had denied and re-recognised the sultanate a number of times, but this does not change the fact that there has been not been any sultanate to speak of since the Carpenter-Kiram Agreement of 1915.

8. By July 15, 1946, the British government had taken over North Borneo when the North Borneo Company could no longer manage it after the devastation of World War II.

The company had the right to hand over North Borneo to whoever it wanted because the country had been ceded to it in 1878 (and confirmed by the confirmation of cession in 1903 and the nullification of Sulu’s ownership of the country by the Madrid Protocol of 1885).

9. Many Brunei historians actually argue that Brunei never gave away any part of North Borneo to Sulu. And there is no document whatsoever to prove this cession.

Two Flags10. After Sabah became part of Malaysia and Malaysia’s sovereignty was recognised by the United Nations and the world, that had effectively superceded and nullified any claim on Sabah.

ICJ confirmed Sabah’s status as part of Malaysia

Sulu cannot be so arrogant and shameless to think that it can simply and freely take back a piece of land it “owned” 135 years ago after it has been developed by someone else for half a century.

11. The International Court of Justice (which is an arm of the United Nation) had recognised and confirmed Sabah as part of Malaysia when it made a verdict in 2002 that Sipadan and Ligitan islands belonged to Malaysia (and not Indonesia). This confirmation of ownership cannot be reversed in favour of Sulu (judgments of the ICJ  are not subject to appeal).

12. Whatever the arguments are, all the past agreements and treaties – whether they were valid, arguable or controversial – are now effectively useless historical references because they have been superseded by bigger and more important events.

Therefore the argument by Harry Roque, a law professor at University of the Philippines, who says that a legal principle known as “uti posseditis juris” (“accords pre-eminence of legal title over effective possession as a basis of sovereignty”) is useless and ineffective. Also, this pre-eminence of legal title is a double-edged sword because it can also be applied to Malaysia.

13. Professor Dr Ramlah Adam recently said: “They cannot claim [Sabah] just based on history. For example, the Siam government handed Kedah, Perlis, Kelantan and Terengganu over to the British and [today] cannot claim the states.”

Prof Emeritus Khoo Kay Kim said that if the Philippines’ argument can be accepted, then “Singapore should be returned to Johor and Penang be returned to Kedah”.

And for that matter why does Brunei not claim Sabah as well because there is a Brunei argument that it never gave Sabah to Sulu? Or why doesn’t Indonesia claim Peninsular Malaysia and southern Thailand? After all, weren’t these regions under the Srivijaya Empire in the eighth century?

14. Sabahans do not want to be part of the Philippines, as confirmed by the findings of the Cobbold Commission.Even today Sabahans feel a lot of trepidation at the mere thought of being under the so-called Sulu sultanate.

No referendum

15. There is an argument that Malaysia had agreed in the Manila Accord (signed July 31, 1963) that the formation of Malaysia was subject to the Philippines’ claim over Sabah.

But whatever was agreed in the Manila Accord has been superseded by later events, for example, the formation of Malaysia which included Sabah, two months after the Manila Accord.

In the Bangkok Talks of June-July 1968, Malaysia had unilaterally rejected the Manila Accord.With the benefit of hindsight, wasn’t the Manila Accord an exercise in futility, especially by the Philippines in trying to hang on to something which couldn’t be implemented and solved till the end of time?

If the terms of the Manila Accord were adhered to, there would have been no Malaysia.Of prime importance was the wishes of Sabahans – two-thirds of whom wanted to join Malaysia as the findings of the Cobbold Commission indicated the year before.

And noteworthy is Article 10 of the accord which says: “The Ministers reaffirmed their countries’ adherence to the principle of self-determination for the people’s of non-governing territories. In this context, Indonesia and the Philippines stated that they would welcome the formation of Malaysia provided the support of the people of the Borneo territories is ascertained by an independent and impartial authority, the Secretary-General of the United Nations or his representatives.”

There was not much time to carry out such a referendum, but wasn’t this condition (to allow Sabah to be part of Malaysia) already fulfilled by the Cobbold Commission the year before?

A virtual paradise

Sabah- Land Below the Wind2

16. Even Sabahan Tausugs do not want to be part of the Philippines.Ed Lingao, a renowned Filipino author and journalist had on February 21, 2013, reported in Minda News that he had undertaken a random survey of the Tausugs in Sabah and found out that even they do not want Sabah to become part of the Philippines.

He wrote: “Many of the Tausugs we encountered detested the idea of the Philippine government reclaiming Sabah. Refugees from war and poverty, many of these Tausugs see little benefit in a Sabah under the Philippine flag; in fact, for them, it is a worrying proposition, not unlike jumping from the clichéd frying pan into an even bigger fire.

“One Tausug we encountered outside a mall in Kota Kinabalu bristled at the idea of the Philippines staking a claim on Sabah saying ‘sisirain lang nila ang Sabah. Okay na nga ang Sabah ngayon, guguluhin lang nila,’ (They will just destroy Sabah. Sabah is doing fine right now, they will just mess it up).

“It is hard to blame them for the cynicism. After all, they took great risks and fled their own troubled country in droves for a better life, only to have that same country reach out and stake a claim on what, to them, is already a virtual paradise where one can finally live and work in peace. That, to them, may be the ultimate irony, the ultimate tragedy.”

Najib-Op Daulat

As such, what we see today is a group of desperate people trying to live in the glory of the distant past, stepping forward with their thick skins with no regard for the truth.Lingao described the nature of the situation on February 19 in an article, “Sabah as the last gold coin”.

In it he notes: “Sabah became their clutch when their own Sulu was sinking, so to speak, from the heavy weight of bloodshed that spiralled into poverty.

“Sabah became the vision of the last gold coin that could win back the possibility of rising again, getting back the worth of a name: the venerable House of Kiram.”

How very sad and tragic indeed. And now more blood is being spilled in the name of a great overstated lie!

Suluk Invaders only flog a dead horse (kuda mati)


March 17, 2013

Suluk Invaders only flog a dead horse (kuda mati)

Bunn-Nagara-Behind-The-Headlines-2by Bunn Nagara @www.thestar.com.my

EVEN though foreign insurgents make a historical claim to Sabah, the facts of history refute it.

AS Malaysian troops and police continue mopping-up operations to flush out straying remnants of the Lahad Datu standoff, partisans on both sides trade emotive claims and insults.

Analysts, meanwhile, weigh the terms in historical documents like “rent”, “lease” and “cession money” to determine Sabah’s actual status. But not only are these documents read differently in translation (English and Sulu), the terms are also interpreted differently.

It makes more sense to focus on the events and circumstances of history. The known facts reveal at least 16 reasons why the Filipino Sulu claim to Sabah is unwarranted and unworthy of consideration.

First, today’s Philippines as a modern nation state and a republic by definition abrogates a former sultanate whose territory it occupies and whose sovereignty it denies.

The Republic of the Philippines has no claim to Sabah of its own. The on-off claim, originating from Sulu sovereignty made by certain quarters, is only a private matter of some revisionist individuals.

The second reason is that the Sulu Sultanate no longer exists, since there Bogus Sultan-Jamalul-Kiram-III.3was no provision even for a constitutional monarch. Any claim requires a claimant and the property/territory in question, whether anyone else has effective control and ownership over it. If the claimant or the territory does not exist, the claim cannot stand.

The insurgents and their leader Jamalul Kiram III (right) are only pressing a notional claim, since they cannot represent a defunct entity.

Third, there is no agreed rightful heir to the last Sultan of Sulu, even if an heir were to press the claim. Jamalul’s claim to be that heir is disputed by nearly a dozen other hereditary “royal” personages.

Another reason for rejecting his claim to Sabah comes with denial of his claim to the throne: 10 other “heirs” had renounced all claim to Sabah in 2007. Nine did so in a signed statement, and Rodinood Julaspi Kiram II in a separate declaration.

It does not matter whether Jamalul was among the nine. If he was, he had unlawfully reneged on the signed agreement, and if he wasn’t, he is outnumbered and is challenged 10 ways.

Fifth, when Spain took over the Sulu Sultanate as part of the Philippines, it left North Borneo (Sabah) in British hands. Spain disrupted the Sultanate by removing 18-year-old Sultan Jamalul Kiram II in 1886, replacing him with a rival, only to “reappoint” him six years later.

Britain made North Borneo a protectorate in 1888. Under Spain, the Philippines and most of the Sulu Sultanate with it were going in one direction, while North Borneo and the British went in another.

Eventually, the sultanate was divested of political and administrative powers until it exercised authority only over religious matters. No effective, functioning sultanate existed any more.

Sixth, the death of Sultan Jamalul Kiram II in 1936 saw no successor, since he died childless. His younger brother and anointed successor, Mawalil Wasit, died the same year before he was crowned.

Thus ended the Royal House of Sulu’s lineage. After Spain passed the Philippines, including the territory of the former sultanate (excluding North Borneo) to the United States, the US officially abolished what remained of the sultanate in 1936.

Eighth, the British North Borneo Company also ceased payment to the sultanate that year, indicating that the business sector had considered the 1878 agreement voided. (Payment later resumed only after relatives of the deceased sultan brought the matter to court.)

Manuel L. QuezonNinth, President Manuel L. Quezon (left) of the (then) Commonwealth of the Philippines declared in 1936 that Jamalul Kiram II was the last Sultan of Sulu. To emphasise the point, Quezon said the Philippine government would no longer recognise a Sulu Sultanate.

Britain had been exercising increasing proprietary moves over North Borneo, earning two rebukes from the US (1906, 1920). Britain ignored those reminders and annexed North Borneo in 1946, turning it into a crown colony.

Whatever the moral issues there, it again spelled the end of any vestige of Sulu royalty. For London, it was a justifiable move since it had taken over all the legal obligations of North Borneo.

Tenth, there was no question later (in the 1960s) about Sabah having to obtain independence from Britain. This underlined the fact that Britain was the sole governing authority up to that point.

Then as Sabah’s independence and the Cobbold Commission’s findings led to the scheduled formation of Malaysia on August 31, 1963, agitation flared from the Philippines. The date was postponed to September 16, such that Sabah was an independent entity for 16 days, ending any remaining claim from an extinct sultanate or the Philippines as belonging to it.

Twelfth, the very act of freely becoming part of the Malaysian federation negated all further claims on the territory by foreign partisans. The new state of Malaysia in its present form is recognised in all international organisations, including the United Nations and ASEAN, of which the Philippines is also a member.

Although former President Marcos tried to retake Sabah in the 1960s, the claim was later abandoned. At the Second Asean Summit in Kuala Lumpur in 1977, Marcos declared that the Philippines was taking concrete steps to end the claim.

Later, as Marcos’ rule clearly became a dictatorship, he made Punjungan Kiram “interim sultan” for Sulu. But this candidate ran off to Sabah, preferring to be a Malaysian instead.

Marcos then “appointed” Punjungan’s son Jamalul Kiram III successor to a non-existent sultan. This instigator of Lahad Datu is not only a dubious candidate since he is not the son of a sultan, but his claim to authority comes from a discredited and ousted dictator of a republic.

Not least, when President Corazon Aquino’s post-Marcos government Corazon Aquino2planned a new Philippine Constitution in 1987, Malaysia lobbied for wording to end the disturbing claim to Sabah for good.

This would replace “historical right or legal title” with “over which the government exercises sovereign jurisdiction” (i.e. the status quo), which was accepted after the third reading in Congress.

So for Philippine citizens to invade Sabah to lay claim to it clearly violates their country’s Constitution. President Benigno Aquino III’s prosecution of these criminals is fully in accordance with the law.

It is also said that no rightful Filipino claim to Sabah exists because as a country, it had not consistently engaged in the activities of a de facto power there. Not only that, there has also been no consistent Filipino claim to Sabah.

Be Grateful and Loyal to our Security Forces


March 16, 2013

Be Grateful and Loyal to our Security Forces in Lahad Datu

by Tunku Abdul Aziz@www.nst.com.my

STEADFAST: They are in the front line risking life and limb to protect the nation

Najib-Op DaulatTHE Royal Malaysia Police engaged in a series of life-and-death operations against Sulu terrorists in Lahad Datu and Semporna, Sabah,  have  once again demonstrated that peace and internal security cannot be taken for granted.

While admittedly the task of securing the borders of Sabah will be near to impossible given its geography, we have been somewhat cavalier, particularly in dealing with the movements of the people from southern Philippines.

It is both ironic and galling that while the Suluks are moving in and out at will, West Malaysians who are putting their lives at risk fighting to defend Sabah are treated as foreigners as far as Immigration control formalities are concerned.

Our Immigration laws have to be tightened to make it more difficult for illegal immigrants and other criminal elements from using Malaysia as a base for human and drug trafficking.

Malaysia has earned, and deservedly so, an unsavoury international reputation as a centre for racketeering and trafficking activities. Our enforcement of laws at entry points is at best cursory and at worst derisory. The Kuala Lumpur International Airport is the soft underbelly of our Immigration control. We have made it all too easy for foreign nationals to enter, in a bid to promote tourism. All perfectly understandable, but is the tourist dollar mightier than national security?

The Police have responded magnificently to the deadly threat posed by theAction in Lahad Datu (Sulu) terrorists and it is comforting to see how well they and their military counterparts have been working side by side.

It requires a high level of trust and understanding for two security forces with their different traditions and modus operandi to harmonise the complex operational elements of command and control.

There are not many countries in the world where such an effective integration exists between the Army and the Police in dealing with threats to internal security.

Questions were asked why the Army was not called into action as soon as the incursion was discovered.

The country was not invaded by a foreign army: public order and internal security falls within the jurisdiction of the police and the army is used in support of civil authority on request. This arrangement has worked well in the past.

Let us listen to what others had to say about our Police Force, with its long tradition of public duty in the interests of the nation.

According to Gen (Sir Rob) Lockhart, Director of Operations during the early phase of the Malayan Emergency: “The Police have been and are the spearhead of our attack as well the main source of our defence against the bandits in Malaya.”

f_pg02templer

Gen (Sir) Gerald Templer (above), who later assumed full military and civil control as high commissioner of the Federation of Malaya, paid this compliment: “I have great affection and admiration for the Royal Federation of Malaya Police force and its component parts.

“They are the people who have been continuously at the business of fighting militant communism all through the long 10 years of the Emergency in their country.”

According to J.W.G. Moran, the author of Spearhead in Malaya, “up to theSpearhead in Malaya end of 1965, 2,890 Police personnel were killed in action, as against the military force’s 518. During the same period, the communist casualties totalled 11,718, out of which 8,678 were bagged by the Police jungle forces”.

Nothing much has changed as far as our Policemen and women are concerned: they are there in the front line, at the sharp end, risking life and limb to secure and preserve peace and order for all citizens, irrespective of race, politics or religion.

They deserve our gratitude for their steadfast loyalty and commitment in protecting lives and properties under all circumstances.

I am pleased that the government has seen it fit to improve the conditions and services of the Police and Armed Forces. They perform a thankless job for such small material recompense. We are able to go about our business in peace and safety because they are there when we need them.

The Opposition’s cyber troopers, who hide behind the cyber skirt demonising those who face constant danger in protecting us, should desist from politicising what is a serious threat to the security of our nation.

If you are incapable of showing patriotism to your country, that is your business, but go elsewhere where you will be happy to peddle your pathologically obsessive hatred for the forces of law and order.This country is better off without you.

US Dirty Tricks? Malaysia Faces Uncertain War in Sabah


March 14, 2013

US Dirty Tricks? Malaysia Faces Uncertain War in Sabah

Global Research, March 10, 2013
Sabah is Malaysia's

Tension is high in Malaysia’s eastern state of Sabah following an ongoing standoff between Islamic militants from the nearby southern Philippines and Malaysian security forces. 235-armed militants landed in eastern Sabah in early February and occupied several villages in an effort to assert a centuries-old claim over the territory. Both sides accuse the other of firing the first shot, but once the stand-off produced Malaysian causalities,Malaysian security forces deployed fighter jets and launched an unprecedented air assault on the militants with five battalions of solders deployed over the area in an operation to flush out the militant group, which they termed “Operation Sovereignty”.

At least 52 militants have been killed, in addition to several Malaysian policemen who were reportedly mutilated by the insurgents; reports claim that militants sent an e-mail message to Malaysian authorities that included images of beheaded police officers. The insurgents identified themselves as the “Royal Sulu Army”, representing the now-defunct Sulu Sultanate that controlled the territory for centuries before leasing the land to the colonial British North Borneo Company in 1878.

The Manila-based Sultan of Sulu, Jamalul Kiram III, directed theSultan Jamalul Kiram III insurgency, while his brother Agbimuddin Kiram led ground operations into Sabah. The Sultanate insists that Sabah is its homeland, and it will not budge on its claims over the territory even if its personnel are killed in the standoff. British colonialists leased the land from the Sultanate and eventually annexed Sabah in 1946 before turning over the disputed territory to the Federation of Malaysia in 1963. At the time, the Philippines contested the transfer, claiming that the British did not possess the authority to transfer ownership to Malaysia.

The British and the Malaysian authorities responded by asking the United Nations to conduct a referendum which came to the conclusion that two-thirds of the population of Sabah favoured joining Malaysia. The Malaysian government also began paying small annual payments to the heirs of the sultanate as compensation for their cession of the land, an arrangement that has continued to the present day.

Malaysia originally took a soft approach on the Filipinos militants by offering them the opportunity to lay down their arms and leave peacefully, leading many to criticize the government and security forces for allowing the militants to penetrate Malaysian territory. Local media referred to the gunmen as “intruders”, but soon after the gunmen engaged security personnel in a firefight, Malaysia began referring to the group as “terrorists”. Prime Minister Najib Razak authorized intense retaliatory strikes, calling for the total surrender of militants. Following the airstrikes, Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III told Filipino media that he was unable to contact his brother, militant leader Agbimuddin Kiram, and that he was increasingly worried over the safety of his “royal army” in Sabah, prompting the Sultan to call for a ceasefire. Malaysian PM Najib reiterated that he would not consider any request unless the militants in Sabah turn over their arms to the Malaysian authorities and surrendered.

Filipino militant groups call for retaliation against Malaysia

The Philippine government under President Benigno Aquino has sided with Malaysia and reiterated its call to followers of Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III to surrender to prevent further bloodshed.

Aquino has spoken of punishing the Sultan and his men for masterminding the armed rebellion in Sabah, prompting a domestic backlash that threatens fragile peace deals with separatist militant groups sympathetic to the Sultan’s cause. Fighters representing the Sulu Sultanate are ethnic Tausugs from the Philippines’ Sulu region, some of whom have aligned themselves with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) which has been fighting for autonomy over the territories in the southern Philippines. Nur Misuari, leader of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), warned the Aquino government of chaos if Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III is arrested or his men apprehended.

Nur_MisuariNur Misuari founded the MNLF in 1969 with the aim of forming an independent egalitarian nation in the Philippines’ easternmost regions of Mindanao, Palawan, and Sulu. The organization has at times preached religious tolerance, and is composed of Muslims, Christians, members of indigenous faiths. An MNLF offshoot – the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) – is known to have perpetrated brutal violence and murder. The ASG maintain links to Al-Qaeda networks, and reports issued by AFP claim that US diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks implicate a Saudi Arabian ambassador to the Philippines of bolstering Filipino terrorist networks with cash through religious charities.

At a recent press conference, Misuari stated, “And for what reason is he (Aquino) aligning this country with Malaysia, a colonial power occupying the land of our people? I am against that, totally against that with all my soul. I hope the president will be properly advised. I hope he will recant. Otherwise we won’t forgive him. And there is an attempt even to arrest the sultan, I understand. Let them do that. The country will be in total chaos if they do, I promise you.” MNLF political chief officer Gapul Hajirul has warned of civil war in Sabah waged by Filipino Muslims who have long resided there. Nur Misuari warned Malaysian PM Najib that targeting Filipino Muslims in Sabah “would be tantamount to war”.

After Malaysia’s assault on the Sulu militants, Princess Celia Fatima Kiram warned that the Sultanate would wage a “long civil war” in Sabah. The MNLF has claimed that thousands of ethnic Tausug fighters were planning to enter Sabah using small pump boats, and that many had already successfully slipped through a naval blockade set up by the Philippines.

The Philippine Daily Inquirer reported that MNLF member Habib Hashim Mudjahab claimed that at least 10,000 Tausug people from islands in the southern Philippines were headed to Sabah to act as reinforcements in support of the Royal Sulu Army. Filipinos in Sabah who are not part of the Royal Sulu forces have reportedly joined the fighting in reaction to what they perceive as atrocities committed by the Malaysian government. Former MNLF member Hadji Acmad Bayam told the Manila Bulletin that MNLF forces may have a significant weapons arsenal hidden within Sabah’s thick jungles left behind by MNLF commanders who have moved in and out of the region over the years.

Allegations of political motives

Malaysia will soon hold a pivotal general election that pits incumbent Prime Najib-Op DaulatMinister Najib Razak against  Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim. Najib voiced suspicion as to why the Sulu rebels chose to pursue their long-standing claim to Sabah when the country was preparing to hold a general election.

Reuters cited sources within the Malaysian government who claimed that the gunmen were suspected to have links to factions that were unhappy with the Philippines’ recent peace agreement with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), another breakaway group from the MNLF which today is widely recognised as the mainstay of the Moro movement. Malaysia acted as the facilitator for that 2012 peace agreement.

Kuala Lumpur has played a key role in facilitating peace talks between Manila and Mindanao since 2001, and the MNLF publicly opposed MILF’s Framework Agreement with Manila. Furthermore, Reuters cited an anonymous Filipino military officer who claimed that Sulu rebels were “invited to Sabah by a Malaysian opposition politician to discuss land issues”. Najib then ordered Malaysian intelligence officials to investigate claims that an opposition leader had a hand in the armed intrusion in Sabah. Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim pressed charges against Malaysian broadcasters for running a story implicating his involvement in the insurgency, and vehemently denied his involvement.

Local analysts have criticized Ibrahim for accepting funds and training from US Government-linked foundations such as the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), while pro-government mainstream media is routinely critical of Anwar’s links to foreign figures. Bloggers have also posted photographs of Anwar Ibrahim meeting with MNLF leader Nur Misuari, insinuating cooperation between the two in coordinating the Sulu insurgency.

Tian Chua, one of the leaders of of the Pakatan Rakyat opposition coalition headed by Ibrahim, accusing the ruling party of having orchestrated the gun battle with Filipino militants, claiming that the incursion was believed to be a “planned conspiracy of the [UMNO] government” to divert attention and intimidate the people in the run-up to elections, prompting unanimous denials from the ruling party.

Filipino sources claim that the Sulu Sultanate’s incursion of Sabah is an attempt to undermine President Benigno Aquino in midterm elections scheduled in May. Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III ran as a senator allied to former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo during elections in 2007 and Filipino politicians allied to him are seen as pressuring Aquino to pardon his predecessor, who remains under house arrest for electoral fraud.

Sulu Sultan calls for US intervention

Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III has told media in the Philippines that he wants the United Nations, the United States and the United Kingdom to intervene in his claim over Sabah. The Sultanate claims that the United States must intercede, as agreed upon in a 1915 agreement signed with then US colonial government in the Philippines that mandated the US provide “full protection” to the Sulu Sultan in exchange for exercising sovereignty over the kingdom as the colonial administration. As calls for intervention and accusations of plots abound, mudslinging is rampant between the ruling parties and oppositions of both Malaysia and the Philippines. The Sulu militants have put aside “responsible conduct” by attempting to legitimize their force by invoking historic claims to the land.

hishammuddin-hussein-in-lahad-datu-300x225The resource-rich state of Sabah is abundant in oil and gas reserves, which contribute to 14% of Malaysia’s natural gas and 30% of its crude oil reserves. Sabah’s fifteen oil wells produce as many as 192,000 barrels a day. Four new oilfields have been found in Sabah’s territorial waters over the last two years, and perhaps one of the motivations for the Sultan’s push to reclaim the territory is profit-driven. Even so, the highly unusual timing of the Sulu operation being so close to Malaysia’s general elections will naturally be perceived as suspect – and in following that line of thought, it is unsurprising that many are asking questions about the Sultanates’ arms sources and funding.

The Sulu Sultanate could have taken several alternative dialogue-based approaches with the nations involved to address this situation that would have yielded infinitely less destructive consequences for his followers and his cause. The insurgent approach taken by the militants undermines the Sultan’s claims entirely, and lends much credibility to alternative narratives that allude to the crisis being manufactured to bring about a conflict at a politically sensitive time. As figures of all political leanings ask themselves who stands to gain from this situation, there is not enough information available to make an accurate assessment.

Malaysia is not often faced with security crises, especially of the sort that this conflict could expand into if more Filipino militants take up arms. Malaysia’s upcoming general election is expected to be extremely close, and many fear that a wider crisis would delay polls. Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III has spoken of foreign intervention as the only solution to the conflict, and wider war could likely be something he is trying to achieve.

As many Filipinos categorize the actions taken by Malaysia as “atrocities”, a credible threat exists in the prospect of wider war if MNLF soldiers establish a foothold in Sabah, or potentially even by conducting retaliatory attacks in Peninsular Malaysia population centers like Kuala Lumpur. While Malaysia’s position must continue to be firm, security forces must exercise restraint in quelling the insurgency to prevent the indiscriminate loss of life if the militants refuse to abandon their mission and turn over their arms.

Nile Bowie is an independent political analyst residing in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. He can be reached at nilebowie@gmail.com

RCI or White Paper on Lahad Datu Incursion?


March 14, 2013

RCI or White Paper on Lahad Datu Incursion?

by Bernama@http://www.malaysiakini.com

The Government does not dismiss the possibility of setting up a Royal hishammuddin-hussein-in-lahad-datu-300x225Commission of Inquiry (RCI) or opening a white paper to investigate claims that third parties are behind the terrorist intrusion in Lahad Datu, Sabah, Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein (right) said.

He said a thorough investigation needed to be done to find out the real motive for the intrusion, including if there were any parties that underwrote the terrorists from the southern Philippines to undermine the country’s stability and sovereignty.

“This can be done either by an RCI or opening a White Paper.I myself want to know who are the masterminds and who are funding the terrorists and did the planning because all these concern national security,” he said.

Hishammuddin said this at a press conference at the Sandakan Police Headquarters today after being briefed on the latest public order situation in Sandakan, the second largest town in Sabah, from Sandakan Police Chief ACP Rowell Marong. Meanwhile, he said overall, the security situation in Sabah including in Tawau, Semporna and Sandakan had improved.

Ali Hamsa al-MamakOn the Eastern Sabah Security Command (ESSCOM), he said a group led by Chief Secretary to the Government Dr Ali Hamsa (left) would be in Sabah tomorrow to identify the additional requirements for its establishment. He said enforcement in waters off Sabah’s east coast would also be stepped up to prevent illegal entry including via rat trails by Philippine nationals.

Defence Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi today announced that the ministry would take over responsibility for security along Sabah’s east coast covering 1,400km, from the Prime Minister’s Department.

Wisma Putra to discuss with Manila

On the arrest by a Philippines Navy patrol unit yesterday of 35 FilipinosPARLIMEN / ANIFAH AMAN / KIMANIS suspected to have ties with the Sulu terrorists, Hishammuddin said Wisma Putra would be discussing with Manila on the matter.

The Philippine media reported that the suspects were intercepted in two boats which were carrying weapons and explosives, in waters off Tawi-Tawi at 6.30am yesterday.

Meanwhile, Hishammuddin also took time off to visit L/Cpl Mohd Zariman Ibrahim, Corporal Affendi Rusli and Corporal Khairul Anuar Md Isa who were injured in the Ops Daulat to rid Sabah of the terrorists and are receiving treatment at the Duchess of Kent Hospital in Kota Kinabalu.

In KANGAR, Perlis’ Komuniti 1Malaysia (K1M) also urged the government to set up an RCI to get to the bottom of the armed intrusion. Its consultative chairperson Nordin Abdullah said the organisation sympathised with the families of the men who were killed in fighting the terrorists.

Fifty-six Sulu terrorists have been killed so far since the Ops Daulat offensive was launched while the security forces lost 10 men, eight from the Police and two from the military.

- Bernama

Sabah is Malaysia’s


March 13, 2013

http://www.nst.com,my

Sabah is Malaysia’s

by Rahmat Mohamad,Mohd Hazmi Mohd Rusli and Muhamad Azim Mazlan

COURT JUDGMENT: 2002 ICJ decision on Sipadan strengthens the fact that the state has always been part of Malaysia

Malaysia's Sabah

LAST month, several hundred armed followers of Jamalul Kiram intruded into Lahad Datu, Sabah, and refused to return to the Philippines despite being cornered by Malaysian security forces. Jamalul claimed sovereignty over Sabah by reiterating that the area was his ancestral territory.

Jamalul supported his contention by asserting that the rent paid by the Malaysian embassy is a recognition of his sovereignty over Sabah.

On March 2, Philippine President Aquino urged the armed intruders to surrender without conditions to prevent further loss of lives. The Sulu insurgents refused to do so, resulting in clashes with security forces.

Since the crime was committed in Malaysian territory, the Sulu aggressors should be punishable under the Malaysian law.If these criminals are non-Malaysian, then they could be liable and punished under Malaysian penal laws. On the other hand, if they are Malaysians, they could be charged for waging war against the Yang DiPertuan Agong, which is a grave offence under Malaysian law.

Territorial acquisition and recognition under International Law

There are a number of methods of territorial acquisition under international law, among others, through conquest, prescription and cession.

Conquest or annexation was recognised as a method of territorial acquisition in the past but has been deemed illegal under international law at least when the United Nations Charter came into force in 1945.

Therefore, the most relevant for Sabah is obviously through cession and prescription. A state may acquire sovereignty over a certain territory if the sovereignty is transferred or ceded by the sovereign to another.

If the British version of the 1878 Treaty is adopted, it is, therefore, clear that the sovereignty over Sabah has been, since 1878, transferred by the sultanate of Sulu to the British, which later, under the concept of uti possideti juris, to Malaysia.

In addition, under international law, prescription refers to acquisition of sovereignty by way of actual exercise of sovereignty, maintained for a reasonable period of time that is effected without objection from any state.

Even if the British version is contested and the Sulu version of the 1878 Treaty is upheld, the sultanate may not be able to claim sovereignty over Sabah as Malaysia has, since 1963, exercised prescription and administered Sabah without any consistent objection from any member of the UN.

Malaysia’s exercise of sovereignty over Sabah is different with that of Indonesia in relation to Timor Leste. Timor Leste was annexed by Indonesia in 1975.

Due to protests from the international community and the Timorese themselves, Timor Leste became an independent sovereign state in 2002.

Sabah was never annexed as it, through the Cobbold Commission, voluntarily joined the Federation of Malaysia. Ever since 1963, Malaysia has installed a working government to administer Sabah, invested funds to develop its economy with the international community recognising Sabah as part of Malaysia.

This could be seen in the 2002 International Court of Justice decision, which awarded the islands of Sipadan and Ligitan located off Sabah, which were disputed by Malaysia and Indonesia, to the former. This decision has strengthened the fact that Sabah has always been part of Malaysia.The claim of Sabah as ancestral territory of the Sultan of Sulu may also seem to be baseless.

In the Malaysia-Singapore dispute over Pulau Batu Putih/Pedra Branca, the ICJ initially recognised the sovereignty of Pulau Batu Putih/Pedra Branca was with the Johor sultanate.Nevertheless, the ICJ awarded Pulau Batu Putih to Singapore when it was proven that the British government of Singapore has acquired it from the Sultan of Johor.

This basically shows that as far as this matter is concerned, the claim of ancestral territory does not carry much weight under international law.

If the claim of ancestral territory holds strong position under international law, then Pulau Batu Putih/Pedra Branca should remain with the Johor sultanate (Malaysia) and not with Singapore.

The continuous display of control by Singapore government over Pedra Branca and Malaysia over Sipadan and Ligitan superseded historical claims over these territories.

Conclusion

It is true that historically, Sabah was part of the Sulu Sultanate. Nevertheless, the political scenario of Sabah and the Philippines has changed since the Spanish, the British and the Americans came to this part of the world with the aim of colonisation.

Sabah is now part of Malaysia and has been progressing well towards development and modernisation, consistent with Malaysia’s vision to become a developed nation by the year 2020.

Indeed, the relative prosperity of Sabah has turned it into a gold-mine for most non-Malaysians residing in the state. If not for Sabah’s fair economic achievement, the Sultanate of Sulu would not put a claim on Sabah.

Regardless of the Sulu claim, the international community has acknowledged Sabah as part of Malaysia and it will remain as such. In this respect, the claim of Sabah by the sultan of Sulu could be seen as a reminiscence of a long-los’ sovereignty.

Rahmat Mohamad is secretary-general of New Delhi-based Asian-African Legal Consultative Organisation, while Mohd Hazmi Mohd Rusli and Muhamad Azim Mazlan are lecturers with Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia.

Malaysian Caped Crusader?


March 11, 2013

Malaysian Caped Crusader?

by Mariam Mokhtar@http://www.malaysiakini.com

Najib-Op DaulatMalays could be the masters of their own destiny, but decades of spoon-feeding, reinforced by an unhealthy belief that they are morally and spiritually superior, has robbed many Malays of the power of critical thought and analysis. It is as if the strain of thinking for oneself, is too great a challenge.

When a Malay criticises the ruling party, he is seen as ‘ungrateful’. He is told that he should be appreciative for all that UMNO has done for him – all the opportunities for education and work. It is conveniently forgotten that not all Malays benefit from the New Economic Policy (NEP).

Many middle-class Malay families complain that scholarships or study loans go to the children of well-connected parents. In businesses, and especially in government tenders, the same applies – connections count more than skills or expertise. Many senior politicians and their wives are more commonly known as Mr. or Mrs. “Ten percent”.

Conversely, Malays have not realised that receiving an education or business opportunity via the affirmative action policies, should not deprive them of a voice. Malays must learn that keeping the government on its toes does not mean that they are unappreciative or disloyal.

Some Malays have a child-like version of the world. In a discussion with a non-Malay, the Malay who cannot present his facts in a logical manner may invariably blurt out, “Go back to where you came from”. It is like the frustrated child who does not get his way and threatens his sibling with, “I’ll tell father what you did”. He does not care about the consequences. He just wants to hurt and get retribution.

Bersih co-chairperson - Ambiga SreenevasanWhen our leaders act in the same manner, this presents a very poor example for the Malays. As an example, former Prime Minister Dr. Mahathir Mohamad had encouraged the stripping of Ambiga Sreenevasan’s (left) citizenship because she wanted true democracy.

When all else fails, some Malays bring Allah into the argument. Malays are adept at emotional blackmail, especially when the threat of eternal damnation is involved.

Malays fiercely defend their religious rights and condemn non-Muslims for entering the discussion. Some claim that as they do not interfere with other religions, then non-Muslims should not interfere in theirs. Could this be an explanation for the muted Muslim voices when a band of renegade Malays dragged a cow’s head through the streets of Shah Alam?

Why have Malays not acknowledged that for centuries, the word ‘Allah’ was used with no problems until UMNO Malays decided it was wrong?

Suffering trial by ordeal

Malays swearing on the Quran in a mosque debases the religion. Compare this with trial by ordeal in medieval England. If someone was accused of a crime against the monarch, he might suffer trial by ordeal. If he did not sustain injuries when his arm was placed in a vat of boiling oil, then he is found innocent.

Saiful Bukhari’s father, Azlan Mohd Lazim, has claimed that the sodomy charges against Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim had been politically motivated. UMNO leaders treat Malays as simpletons. Will Malays ask Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak to respond to Azlan’s latest revelation and also address the accusations made by carpet dealer Deepak Jaikishan and former Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Musa Hassan?

Why don’t Malays consider a range of other views, to help shape theirs? Sadly, some non-Malays also fall into the trap of not entering into a discussion because they are told that “it does not concern them”. Islam is the official religion of Malaysia, so all Malaysians are free to express the opinion on any aspect of Islam.

Malays dislike being told that they are in the wrong. Instead of having a rational discussion, some prefer to bottle their emotions, than risk running amok. Decades of ‘Ketuanan Melayu’ have reinforced this flaw in their character.

mahathir_mohamadMahathir said that the opposition would destroy the Malays and bumiputeras in Selangor. Mahathir’s ‘Project M’ allowed illegal immigrants into Sabah. Najib and the Election Commission (EC) permit illegal immigrants into Malaysia.

Malays are being betrayed by UMNO Malay leaders. These policies of offering citizenship to illegal immigrants have contributed to the loss of lives in Lahad Datu.

Whilst Najib fell under Psy’s charms in Penang, and Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin had reportedly been in Indonesia for Chinese New Year, armed Sulu invaders had slipped into Sabah where they were allegedly plied with food and drink by the UMNO government during negotiations.

A news blackout did nothing to quell criticisms of the handling of the crisis, it merely festered the spread of rumours. Najib has only himself to blame for this debacle.

The country is being crippled by abuses of power, corruption, police brutality and high levels of crime, and the man in the street knows the perpetrators. Both Mahathir and Najib have portrayed Anwar as an agent of various foreign governments, a stud (from the various sex videos produced by UMNO), and the one who will bring the Malays down.

Anwar may be portrayed by UMNO as a supervillain, but he is not responsible for these crimes. On the contrary, he is the superhero who would like to avenge them.

People may have read on the Internet about the portly delivery van driver who dressed as Batman and marched a suspected criminal into a Police station in Bradford, England. If only Najib could have exercised his full powers when he was Prime Minister and put a stop to all the evil in Malaysia. Perhaps, he could have been the Malaysian Batman – The Caped Crusader.

Their similarities and differences

The original Batman was the son of millionaire philanthropists; Najib and his wife have become multi-millionaires from being in politics, but they are no philanthropists. Any largesse they exhibit is paid for by the taxpayer.

LahadDatu-Hishamuddin2-Reuters-540x374There are some significant similarities and differences between Batman and Najib. Batman lives in a gothic mansion, whereas Najib has a Louis-Farouk monstrosity. Batman has a Batmobile, but Najib has access to a variety of vehicles, including two submarines with slight technical glitches.

Batman has a ‘six-pack’, whereas Najib is blessed with a ‘12-pack’ figure. In the UMNO world, quantity matters. Batman has his sidekick, Robin “The Boy Wonder”.

Najib has three sidekicks – Hishammuddin Hussein the “Action Boy”, Zahid Hamidi “GI Joe” and Rais Yatim “The Disinformer”. Batman has eyes only for the femme fatale “Catwoman”, whereas Najib has Rosmah Mansor “The Bag Lady” and Ummi Hafilda Ali “The Wazz”.

The Malays must understand that if Najib cannot defend Lahad Datu from a gang of invaders, he has little chance of defending the name ‘Allah’, nor protecting Malaysians from a band of internal crooks.

No Deal on Sabah Claim by the Philippines, Please


March 11, 2013

No Deal on Sabah Claim by the Philippines, Please

by Emeritus Prof D. S. Ranjit Singh (03-10-13)@http://www.thestar.com.my

A major shift in Malaysia’s position on the Philippine claim to Sabah is needed.

Najib-Op DaulatTHE Philippines Government officially announced their claim to North Borneo (now Sabah) on June 22, 1962. Despite numerous attempts to settle the issue, it still festers on, exemplified by the latest tragic events unfolding in Lahad Datu on the east coast of Sabah.

The Philippine claim is based on two documents dated January 22, 1878. By the first document, Sultan Muhammad Jamaluladzam granted (pajak) all his territorial possessions in Borneo (tanah besar Pulau Berunai) to Gustavus Baron de Overbeck and Alfred Dent Esquire as representatives of a British Company for a yearly payment/ quit rent (hasil pajakan) of five thousand dollars (Spanish dollars).

By the second document, the said Sultan appointed Overbeck as “Dato’ Bendahara and Rajah of Sandakan” with the fullest powers of a “supreme ruler” (penghulu pemerintah atas kerajaan yang tersebut itu).

Descendants of Sultan Muhammad Jamaluladzam (the number cannot be ascertained, but is large), represented by the Kiram Corporation and the Philippine Government, have always claimed that this 1878 grant was a lease (pajakan) and not a cession as claimed by Malaysia. The continuous annual payment of the quit rent or cession monies of five thousand dollars (now RM5,300) to these descendants is cited as further proof of this contention. Based on these grounds, they claim, Sabah belongs to the Philippines/ the Sultan of Sulu’s descendants.

Before discussing how Malaysia has been responding to this assertion and how it should alter its position drastically, a little bit of historical narrative is in order.

Without going too far back in time, it is suffice to say historical documents confirm that both the Sultanate of Brunei and the Sultanate of Sulu exercised political control over parts of present-day Sabah (there was no State or Negeri Sabah at that time) in the late 19th century. Brunei had defacto jurisdiction on the west coast from Kimanis to Pandasan, while Sulu ruled the east coast from Marudu to the Sibuku River. The interior was largely independent under local indigenous suku chiefs.

Both Sultanates, however, claimed dejure jurisdiction from the Pandasan on the west coast to the Sibuku River on the east. Both Sultanates were also in a state of decline. Brunei was suffering from internal decay while large parts of its territories were being swallowed up by the new state of Sarawak under the Brookes.

In the Philippine region, the Spanish authorities in Manila had been trying to subjugate the independent and powerful kingdom of Sulu for three centuries without success. In 1871, the Spaniards launched another exerted campaign to conquer the stubborn kingdom.

It was in this kind of environment that a number of European and American speculators became interested in obtaining territorial concessions from the two weak Sultanates for speculative purposes. Among them were Lee Moses and Joseph Torrey of America; and Baron von Overbeck and Alfred Dent who had formed a company called the Overbeck-Dent Association on March 27, 1877 in London for the purpose of obtaining land concessions in Sabah and selling them for a profit.

Overbeck and Dent acquired Brunei’s jurisdiction over its Sabah possessions in five documents dated Dec 29, 1877 from the Sultan of Brunei and his ministers. After this, Overbeck sailed to Jolo where he also obtained the rights of the Sultan of Sulu in Sabah through two agreements concluded on Jan 22, 1878.

Why was Sultan Muhammad Jamaluladzan prepared to lease/ grant/ pajak his territories in Sabah to Overbeck and Dent? Sulu was on the brink of capitulating to the Spaniards and as such Sultan Muhammad was hopeful of obtaining some assistance from the Overbeck-Dent Association and possibly even from Britain. Placed in such dire straits, he was therefore not adverse to giving Overbeck and Dent territorial concessions in Sabah with some hope of salvation.

In the event, no such aid came either from the Overbeck-Dent Association or the British Government. Six months after the Overbeck-Dent grants were concluded, Sulu was conquered by the Spanish authorities on July 2 1878. With the fall of Sulu, the said Sultanate ceased to be an independent entity as it was incorporated as part of the Spanish colonial administration of the Philippines.

In 1898, Spain lost the Philippines to the United States by the Peace of Paris (Dec 10, 1898), which ended the Spanish-American War. The US ruled the Philippines till 1946 when independence was granted.

Meanwhile, in 1936, the US colonial administration of the Philippines abolished the Sulu Sultanate upon the death of Sultan Jamalul Kiram II (1894-1936) in the same year in an attempt to create a unitary State of the Philippines. Jamalul Kiram III is a self- appointed “Sultan” with a dubious legal status.

Now, coming back to the question of Malaysia’s ongoing treatment of the Philippine Presidentclaim, and why and how it should completely alter this position. Since the official announcement of the claim by the Philippine Government on June 22, 1962, Malaysia has been pursuing an ambivalent policy. On the one hand, it has persistently rejected the Philippines claim, but on the other it has compromised Malaysia’s sovereignty by agreeing to settle the “dispute” by peaceful means (such as the Manila Agreement, Aug 3, 1963) and a number of other mutual agreements between the two countries.

Most damaging of all is Malaysia’s willingness to honour the clause in the 1878 Sulu grant pertaining to the payment of the annual quit rent or cession monies as Malaysia says, of RM5,300, to the descendants of the former Sulu Sultanate. To this day, Malaysia is still paying this quit rent, lending credence to the claimants’ argument that the 1878 grant was a lease and not a cession and therefore it still belongs to them.

If Malaysia continues to follow this policy, there will be no end to this problem except to buy out the rights of the descendents of the Sultan of Sulu. But this course is fraught with danger as it will lead to further legal complications with the Philippines and even endless litigation with the descendants.

My proposal is that Malaysia should go by the laws of “effectivities”, as in the case of the International Court of Justice’s (ICJ) judgement pertaining to the issue of sovereignty over the Sipadan and Ligitan islands, and the law of acts of a’titre de souverain as in the case of Pulau Batu Puteh.

No title, however strong, is valid once the original owner fails to exercise acts consistent with the position of a’titre de souverain. The opposite is true, that is, the holder of the lease may not have original title but he ultimately gains permanent possession of the lease by virtue of continuous state “effectivities”.

In this case, the Sultan of Sulu and its successors including the Philippine government have failed to conduct any acts of a’titre de souverain since 1882, and so they have legally lost their title.

On the other hand, the successors of the Overbeck-Dent Association, that is the British North Borneo Company (1882-1946); the British Colonial Administration (1946-1963); and Malaysia, (from 1963) have been exercising continuous acts of a’titre de souverain for a period of 131 years.

Since we have all this evidence on our side, Malaysia should now take a new stand by totally rejecting the validity of the 1878 grants on the grounds of “effectivitie” and a’titre de souverain. It should also immediately stop paying the so-called annual quit rent or cession monies. This payment has always brought huge embarrassment to Malaysia and has in fact compromised its sovereignty.

We should also never agree to go to the International Court of Justice not because our case is weak (it is very strong), but because we don’t want to trade the fate of sovereign territories and people through the judgment of any court, even the ICJ.

There’s one more point that should be pondered upon. No country or state or nation which has obtained independence has ever paid ownership monies to its former masters. The 13 Colonies of America did not do so, India did not do so, the Federation of Malaya did not do so.

Sabah became an independent state on August 31, 1963 and decided to form the Federation of Malaysia with three other partners on Sept 16, 1963. It is strange indeed, if not preposterous, that a sovereign state is paying ownership or cession monies to certain people based on a colonial, pre-independence treaty that is 131 years old!

Emeritus Prof D. S. Ranjit Singh is Visiting Professor at the College of Law, Government and International Studies, Universiti Utara Malaysia (ranjit@uum.edu.my).

Lahad Datu Incursion: Handling the Hype


March 11, 2013

Lahad Datu Incursion: Handling the Hype

farish-a-noorby  Farish A. Noor@http://www.nst.com.my

CHECK THE INFO: There are many actors in the Sulu saga and there is a need to separate fact from fiction

THERE are times when I do believe we ought to be more circumspect and perhaps even cynical when reading the news we get.

As the Sabah crisis continues at its own pace, different contenders have come to the fore offering their opinions as to how the crisis ought to be settled.

Among them has been Nur Misuari, leader of the Moro NationalNur_Misuari Liberation Front (MNLF), who was once a player in the regional dynamics of Southern Philippines, but who now seems to be taking the opportunity to foreground himself once again.

I was somewhat alarmed to read a report in the Borneo Post when Misuari claimed that “Sarawak is also part of his clan’s ancestral lands”.

I had to read the article several times to convince myself that my failing eyesight was not deceiving me and that the article was genuine and not a spoof.

Misuari had also suggested that he be given a role as mediator to end the Sabah incursion, despite his claim that Sarawak belongs to his clan.

Then came other reports about how the MNLF was threatening “chaos” in the region, and that 10,000 Filipinos would be sent to Sabah in a show of support for the pretender to the Sulu throne there.

Once again, I had to read the reports several times to convince myself that my eyes were working and that I was not seeing things.

Zaid HamidiIn a state of crisis, one of the first conditions that has to be met is information management and verification of reports.

While sensational headlines may sell newspapers, they do not calm an already delicate situation and may, in fact, have the opposite effect of rousing fear and anger among readers or viewers.

It is for this reason that we ought to remember some salient facts that are pertinent to the Sabah situation at the moment. First, Misuari’s MNLF is today a spent force, with around a few hundred followers left.

If Manila had chosen to broker a peace accord with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) instead, it was for the simple reason that MILF claims to have 15,000 followers and is perhaps the strongest armed force in Mindanao at the moment.

They are in fact the only power brokers and if peace is to be restored to southern Philippines, it cannot be done without the support of the MILF.

Second, the other splinter groups that have been largely responsible for the incursion into Sabah happen to be those who felt left out of the peace accord and who may have felt that they had been denied a slice of the pie.

This is indeed unfortunate, but it has more to do with who the government in Manila recognises as legitimate actors, and who are not.

Philippine PresidentNo other country in ASEAN has the right to intervene in this process, but can only help it along by mediating when asked.  Third, it ought to be clear by now that the incursion into Sabah was certainly not the desire of the Philippine government. As President Benigno Aquino Aquino has noted in his presidential address last week, the Constitution of the Philippines does not allow for the creation of private armies, the ownership of weapons without permits, and the unilateral declaration of war on another country by a citizen who does not represent the state.

 On these grounds, the incursion into Sabah has no legal standing and was, in fact, contrary to Philippine law itself.   Malaysia cannot pick itself up and relocate itself in some other quiet corner of the world, and we should not deny our long historical and diasporic links to all the mobile, fluid communities that make up the complex social landscape.

 Indeed, for centuries, people from Sulu have moved in and out of Sabah along with Bruneians, Malays, Chinese, Indians, Arabs, Bajaus, Ilanuns and Bugis. What is at issue here is how an internal domestic crisis in the Philippines has erupted and spilled over into the territory of another country, namely Malaysia.

The Malaysian public in turn may be wary or even angered by a Philippine citizen who suddenly claims to be their sultan out of nowhere, but we cannot allow our judgment to be clouded by fiery rhetoric, disinformation and propaganda that may be designed to upset us. We need to constantly remind ourselves that this situation was never the desire of the Philippine government, and we should not blame the Philippines as a whole for what has happened.

In the meantime, some of the stories that are emanating from the likes of  Sultan Jamalul Kiram IIIMisuari ought to be taken with a heavy dose of salt too: the man who now claims to wish to mediate the crisis also happens to be the same person who, during his younger left-leaning days, was inclined to criticise the traditional rulers of southern Philippines for their feudal culture and elite status.

The solidarity shown for those claiming to be the descendants of the Sultan of Sulu seems hollow and more instrumental, as are the claims that tens of thousands of southern Filipinos are about to invade Borneo. If these leaders truly wanted peace in the region, they ought to begin by tempering their own rhetoric for starters, and stop making claims like Sarawak is also part of his clan’s ancestral lands.

 

Haris Ibrahim on Project IC


March 10, 2013

Haris Ibrahim on Project IC

haris-ibrahimA friend, quite sometime back, told me of an incident that his close friend was subjected to.His friend, a high-flyimg corporate figure, was summoned to meet the then Prime Minister, that man of Keralite descent.

Now when you are a businessman and are told that the Prime Minister wants you to see him, you do go.

On reaching the Prime Minister’s office at the appointed time, he was ushered into a waiting room and told that the Prime Minister had some visitors then and that he would be called as soon as the Prime Minister was free to see him.

Whilst alone in the waiting room and after the customary tea and snacks had been served, this corporate figure was surprised to see a single, thick file on the coffee-table in front of him with his name emblazoned on it.

After furtively glancing about to make sure no one else was there nor could anyone see him, he peeked into the file and to his horror found that just about every wrong that he had done in his life was meticulously recorded and documented in that file.

Shortly thereafter and whilst his head was still ‘spinning’ from his discovery, he was ushered in to meet the Prime Minister.When the Prime Minister spoke to him, it hardly registered in his mind what was being said. All he could then think of was what was in that file and wondering to himself how long and how many knew about what he had done.

Not surprisingly, whatever the Prime Minister then asked of him, he readily agreed to.If you have ever wondered what is it that makes so many of our people, numbering amongst them politicians, civil servants, judges, businessmen, activists and others (including those who suddenly do an about-turn), ‘toe the line’ when it comes to fulfilling the wishes of our leaders, the above scenario provides a likely explanation.

It should come as no surprise therefore that high up in the criteria for selecting persons to key appointments is that the file kept on them ought to be sufficiently thick and detailed to enable them to be kept under control.

To aid in the control of them, too, it is advantageous to permit them to continue in their wrongdoings as these acts can be further recorded and documented in their files for further use in controlling them.

Now do you understand how and why so many of our Ministers, civil servants and so many others in key positions were and are corrupt? They are permitted to be so, so that they can be controlled.

If investigation had commenced against them or charges preferred against them, so much the better.The investigation could be stifled or the charges dropped and their eternal loyalty and gratitude obtained.

It is not surprising therefore to learn that those involved in Project IC in Sabah, as reported, made money in the process and sold these ICs.

As reported, the Special Branch of the Police knew of it and by extension therefore the political masters knew too.

The political masters were quite content to allow them to make money on the side as this would further ‘buy their silence’ over the matter. Though it must have been known that these people were making money on the side in issuing ICs under Project IC or Project M as it is better known, yet they were never charged in Court.

Why were they not charged?Well, there was the risk that they might, to save their own skin, blurt out in Court that they were following orders from their political masters in issuing the ICs.

I venture to guess that some amongst them, who the political masters were mahathir_mohamadsubsequently afraid might ‘spill the beans’, were then detained under the ISA in a bid to intimidate them and keep them silent.

Do not therefore be mistaken into believing that the NRD officers in Sabah in illegally issuing ICs did so independently and solely for monetary gain without the complicity of the political masters.

I will not be surprised if that is the line taken by Mahathir to save himself.The reported meetings had with Mahathir’s henchmen, Megat Junid and Aziz Shamsuddin, on these matters are however too revealing to exculpate Mahathir’s involvement in these treasonous acts.

Is it any wonder then that Mahathir is campaigning in the 13th GE as though his very life depended on it? He may, after all, be right about that.

Sulu Sultanate has no legitimate claim over Sabah, says Malaysian Bar Council


March 10, 2013

Malaysia

Sulu Sultanate has no legitimate claim over Sabah, says Malaysian Bar Council

by Zuraibi Ar@http://www.themalaysianinsider.com

The Sulu Sultanate no longer has any legal claim over Sabah since the International Court of Justice (ICJ) recognised Malaysia’s rights and sovereignty over the east Malaysian state and its surrounding islands during a territorial dispute in 2002, the Bar Council said today.

The ICJ recognised Malaysia’s claim in its decision on the dispute between Malaysia and Indonesia over the islands of Ligitan and Sipadan off the coast of Sabah in December 2002. The Philippines had at the time applied to intervene in the case, but its application was rejected.

christopher_leong“The Sultanate of Sulu had, by its several actions and by various separate instruments between 19 April 1851 and 26 June 1946, relinquished and ceded all of its rights, interests and dominion over what was previously referred to as North Borneo,” Council Vice-President Christopher Leong said here in a statement.

“The Sultanate of Sulu, even if such an entity were to legally exist today, has no subsisting legitimate claim to Sabah.”

Last week, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima from the Philippines’ Department of Justice reportedly said the government had not ruled out taking the Sulu group’s claim on Sabah to the ICJ, but was carefully studying the case as it did not want to strain its friendship with Malaysia.

The Sulu Sultanate has laid claim to Sabah, saying it had merely leased North Borneo in 1878 to the British North Borneo Company for an annual payment of 5,000 Malayan dollars then, which was increased to 5,300 Malayan dollars in 1903.

Sabah, however, joined Malaya, Sarawak and Singapore to form Malaysia in 1963, after which Malaysia continued paying an annual stipend of RM5,300 to the Sulu sultanate on the basis of the sultanate ceding the Borneo state.

In a referendum organised by the Cobbold Commission in 1962, the people of Sabah voted overwhelmingly to join Malaysia.

The Bar Council also urged Putrajaya today to solve the ongoing conflict in Lahad Datu in a peaceful manner, while treating prisoners according to international humanitarian law and international human rights standards.

This comes as the death toll of Sulu militants reached 53 in the sixth day of Najib-Op Daulat“Ops Daulat” launched to flush out the remaining armed intruders from Philippines, and alleged violence used by the Malaysian police on Suluks and suspected followers of the Kiram clan.

“As we seek to assert our rights and protect our sovereignty and territorial integrity, we must continue to conduct ourselves with a strong sense of dignity and professionalism, with due observance of our own laws as well as international laws and standards,” Leong said.

“We expect that the due process of the law shall be observed and accorded to these arrested persons,” Leong said, referring to the 85 suspects arrested under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (SOSMA).

SOSMA was tabled in Parliament on April 10 last year and passed in June, officially replacing the ISA and removing the government’s option to detain without trial.

Under the ISA, an individual believed to have committed a security offence can be detained for up to two years without trial, on orders from the home minister.

The Council also asked for authorities to ensure that all combatants, either friend or foe, are treated humanely with access to necessary medical assistance and treatment.

Malaysia launched an all-out assault on the Sulu group on Tuesday morning, using fighter jets to rain down bombs on Kampung Tanduo where the Sulu group had been hiding.

After the airstrike, ground troops moved in for the “mopping up” operations, going from door-to-door and advancing slowly over the uneven terrain surrounding the coastal village to hunt down the armed militants.

No referendum on Sabah, says Jeffery Kitingan


March 10, 2013

No referendum on Sabah, says Jeffery Kitingan

by Luke Rintod (03-08-13)@http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com

Jeffrey-KitinganUnited Borneo Front (UBF) Chairman Jeffrey Kitingan has disputed the context of the 1962 referendum which academics and Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak claim confirmed Sabahans’ desire to be part of Malaysia.

“There has never been a referendum on Sabah as stated by some academics.In fact, the so-called referendum in 1962-63 was actually only a sampling survey of less than four percent of the Sabah population,” he said in response to Najib’s comments on Sabah yesterday.

Najib said there was no question of Sabah not being within Malaysia.Said Najib: “On the question of polemics of whether Sabah is a part of Malaysia, I want to stress that the issue had been finalised in 1978 and Sabah is a valid region in Malaysia,” he said.

He said the Cobbold Commission had held a referendum and two-thirds of the people in Sabah agreed to the state being a part of Malaysia. The commission also obtained the recognition of the United Nations.

(The Cobbold Commission was set up to find out whether the people of Sabah and Sarawak were agreeable to the proposal to create Malaysia, made up of Malaya, Singapore, Sabah and Sarawak.)

But Jeffrey, who also heads the Sabah chapter of the State Reform Party (STAR), said the Malaysia Agreement which incorporated terms of the Cobbold Commission “is yet to be implemented”.

“Najib must realise that Sabah belongs to the people of Sabah. Malaysia does not own Sabah as the Malaysia Agreement is yet to be implemented. Sabah is not a piece of lifeless property to be fought over between the Philippines [Sulu claim] and Malaya.

“Therefore, any talks between Malaysia/Malaya and the Philippines must include Sabah because only the people of Sabah can decide what they want.

“The [Sulu's] Sabah claim, whether valid or not, must be resolved once and fo all by bringing all the relevant parties to the table within the ambitof Britain and the United Nations and find a peaceful solution,” he said.

PMs have failed Sabah

He added that “the time has come to review the implementation of the Malaysia Agreement and ensure its viability and survival by addressing the unhappiness of the other remaining partners – Sabah and Sarawak”.

Jeffrey also pointed out that it was vital that the federal government clean up the mess created by (former prime minister) Dr Mahathir Mohamad and UMNO in Sabah which had put Sabah and its citizens at perpetual risk.

“They made Sabah insecure by supporting Muslim rebellion in the Philippines and supplying them weapons, giving them refuge and training facilities in Sabah and, worst still, by deploying them as voters in Sabah through the ‘Project IC Mahathir’, despite knowing full well that the same group of people from the Philippines have unsettled claims over Sabah.

“To restore confidence, the federal government must clean up the mess. UMNO should leave Sabah politics to Sabahans and local political parties.”

Jeffrey said the Sulu invasion was proof that Malaysia and successive Prime Ministers, including Najib, had failed miserably to secure the safety and security of Sabahans.

“Now that the fear felt by Sabahans has become a reality, Najib, as the current premier, must not only guarantee the security of Sabahans but he must also restore their confidence because security was the number one reason why Sabahans agreed to be part of Malaysia in 1963,” said Jeffrey.

He said Najib “has a moral duty to put things right” in Sabah. “That is why we Sabahans supported the RCI [Royal Commission of Inquiry] as part of a necessary action to put things right.

“But that is not enough. A lot more needs to be done to regain the confidence of the people of Sabah, who feel cheated by the federal government,” Jeffrey said.

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