Malaysia’s Territorial Integrity and Sovereignty is NON-NEGOTIABLE

March 3, 2013

Malaysia’s Territorial Integrity and Sovereignty is NON-NEGOTIABLE

by Bunn Nagara @,my


After Sabah’s standoff is resolved, the intruders will need to reconcile with modern realities.

Respect for MalaysiaIT is too easy to dismiss the Lahad Datu standoff as typical of Sabah’s labyrinthine intrigue. That would trivialise the rich history and cultural diversity of the state, besides mistaking a largely Philippine problem as being Sabah’s.

True, anywhere else in Malaysia with a significant Tausug population deriving from the former Sulu Sultanate’s diaspora, like the Klang Valley, would be unlikely to experience the drama of the past couple of weeks.

But none of the events in Kampung Tanduo, near Lahad Datu in eastern Sabah, was predictable or inevitable. The former Sultanate occupied only a small portion of Philippine territory and an even smaller portion of Sabah’s.

And yet, the peculiar combination of north-eastern Borneo’s demography, geography, history and political heritage provides a probable backdrop to just such a standoff. How did it all begin this time?

Sulu army

On February 9, nearly 100 Philippine nationals, several of them armed, arrived by boat to join a smaller group that had arrived earlier. They took over the village, claiming the area belonged to the Sultanate that they said they represented.

They also demanded recognition as the Royal Sulu Sultanate Army, as well as a meeting with an unnamed Malaysian leader. Malaysian authorities rejected both demands.

They further said they had come in support of Sabah’s Tausug population, alleging reports that following a Royal Commission of Inquiry into Sabah’s illegal immigrant communities, Tausugs would be deported.

Many locals would be surprised by the claim. Sabahan-Malaysian Tausugs, who prefer to be called Suluks, have long settled comfortably among Sabah’s three dozen or so ethnic groups.

Filipino Tausugs who arrived later as migrant workers, clinging more closely to their “Tausug” roots, may face a different reality. But ethnic persecution hardly if ever surfaces in Sabah because of, not despite, its rich cultural diversity.

The annual lease payment of RM5,300 agreed in 1903, increased from RM5,000 agreed in 1878, was also said to be insufficient. Others said the territory should be returned to the late Sultan’s descendants anyway.

Although British and Sulu versions of the 1878 agreement differed slightly, the Sulu version was clear enough: “… hereby lease of our own free will and satisfaction … all the territories and lands … forever and until the end of time, all rights and powers which we possess over all territories and lands tributary to us …”

Both the Philippines and Malaysia would rather do without such disturbances that serve only as irritants to bilateral relations. As modern nation states, both countries have evolved well past an extinct sultanate.

But there are also differences.For Malaysia, the sovereignty and territorial claims of the former Sultan’s descendants are simply unacceptable. No such claims are negotiable.

The claimants argue that the sultanate’s territory had been leased only to Britain, with no agreement on incorporation into Malaysia. But their case is inconsistent.

Sabah, the former North Borneo, became a British protectorate from the late 19th century until it became a crown colony. It gained a brief period of independence before becoming part of the Malaysian Federation in 1963.


By then, the Cobbold Commission (above) had determined that a majority of people in Sabah and Sarawak favoured the formation of Malaysia. For a century the former Sultan’s descendants did not retake territory, but instead agreed to continue accepting the lease payment under the previous arrangements.

The Philippine government, which subsumed the sultanate’s authority in the four provinces of Mindanao, also took over the role of pressing the claim to Sabah. Despite being a republic that had abandoned all royal authority, Manila continued with the claim before, during and after Malaysia’s formation.

Although the Philippine claim has since become dormant if not extinct, Manila found it difficult to renounce it. It has become an object of nationalists eager to strike populist postures in domestic Philippine politics.

The issue has a different spin among the Moro or Philippine Muslim community in Mindanao, of which Tausugs are a part. Despite Malaysia’s key role in peace talks between the two main Moro separatist groups and the Philippine government, both groups are not necessarily in Malaysia’s corner.

The MILF (Moro Islamist Liberation Front) disagreed with the takeover of Kampung Tanduo, saying negotiations should have been the way. This wrongly presumed that the issue was negotiable for Malaysia.

The MNLF (Moro National Liberation Front) is an even more enthusiastic supporter of the armed intruders. But it should be more mindful of the implications involved.

Home Affairs Minister2

Since the former sultanate covered the Philippine provinces of Basilan, Palawan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi in the ARMM (Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao), and only an eastern part of Sabah, followers of the former Sultan should first settle differences of territorial authority with the MNLF and the MILF before venturing into Sabah. They should also settle differences with Manila over such issues as hegemony, usurpation and compensation.

Both the Philippines and Malaysia, as sovereign states that had subsumed and developed beyond the Sulu Sultanate, have successfully concluded various agreements bilaterally and multilaterally. Those agreements confirm mutual acceptance of their respective statehood in their present configuration.

Besides, the former Sultan and his descendants had consented to the terms of the agreement in return for the lease payment. So long as payment is still made, they are obliged to continue abiding by the agreement.

That would make any unilateral attempt to retake territory by force of arms illegal and unjustified. Whether Malaysia will seek to prosecute after a resolution of the standoff is another matter.

19 thoughts on “Malaysia’s Territorial Integrity and Sovereignty is NON-NEGOTIABLE

  1. PR is going to be able to link this thing to Project IC, with Scorpene (and even Altantuya C4!), Musa Aman and his cheating relative, even Selangor electoral roll,

    Now we find out there is even a number of them living in Selangor and Selangorian have to wonder if they got here with Project IC and whether they will do something retaliation here..

  2. “By then, the Cobbold Commission (above) had determined that a majority of people in Sabah and Sarawak favoured the formation of Malaysia. For a century the former Sultan’s descendants did not retake territory, but instead agreed to continue accepting the lease payment under the previous arrangements.”

    Actually, Bunn Nagara overlooked one key thing. The Sulu Sultanate was already part of the Spanish Philippines Empire at the time its Sultan signed the lease agreement with the British in 1878. The Sulu Sultanate actually had no right to conduct foreign affairs with any one, including the British. Only the Spanish Manila government could. This was finally recognised by the British themselves, and the British and the Spanish signed an important agreement in which Spain handed North Borneo (present day Sabah) permanently to Britain in the Madrid Protocol 1885.

    This means that Britain did not have to pay any annual rent to the Sultan, but it continued to do so as a precaution (i.e. a small sum to keep the Sultan happy and stopped all piracy). The Malaysian government misunderstood this to mean as a lease payment. This misunderstanding of Sabah’s history is the main reason Najib and BN have no clue what they are doing.

  3. The Cobbold Commission was far from unequivocal in its findings; even a simple wikipedia check shows:

    “About one-third of the population of each territory strongly favours early realisation of Malaysia without too much concern about terms and conditions. Another third, many of them favourable to the Malaysia project, ask, with varying degrees of emphasis, for conditions and safeguards varying in nature and extent: the warmth of support among this category would be markedly influenced by a firm expression of opinion by Governments that the detailed arrangements eventually agreed upon are in the best interests of the territories. The remaining third is divided between those who insist on independence before Malaysia is considered and those who would strongly prefer to see British rule continue for some years to come. If the conditions and reservations which they have put forward could be substantially met, the second category referred to above would generally support the proposals. Moreover once a firm decision was taken quite a number of the third category would be likely to abandon their opposition and decide to make the best of a doubtful job. There will remain a hard core, vocal and politically active, which will oppose Malaysia on any terms unless it is preceded by independence and self-government: this hard core might amount to near 20 per cent of the population of Sarawak and somewhat less in North Borneo.”
    —Lord Cobbold, Cobbold Commission

  4. See I have already told you once you give in to the terrorist, all these shitholes will happen

    Unless just as Nixon said before……Najib’s cojones are manhandled by the Suluans or Pinoy or is it USA


    Heard that 4 Malaysians kenna taken for hostage, wtf is the najib’s next move? Rather than checking on oppos

    5 policemen were killed in Semporna, what is Hisham’s containment policy?

    It seems that the villagers have done better in defending the country than the…….You can fill in the blank

    is that the best Najib can say about the happening in Lahad Datu? Is it Wag the dog or not?

    I am not sure what to make of this…..Sheer incompetency

  5. In the Kingdom of Muslim Brotherhood all can be forgiven for in Isalm it is undertsood that the natural resources of the earth are common inheritance of the children of Allah. So let live and forgive for we are all children of Allah , except for the kafirs and perdatangs.

  6. Where are the expensive toys of fighter planes, attack helicopters, tanks? These could have been used to prevent or minimise the loss of the Malaysian security ppl ?

  7. 5 of Malaysia’s security died today(sun 3Mar2013) at Lahad Datu
    and 2 died in Semporna shoot-out. Total: 10 Malaysians

    And what did that big mouth Home Minister Hisham Hussein Onn assured: “Group is not a militant or terrorist but we are working closely”.

    So what are they? – Invaders/Occupiers?

    This Najib-led govt owes the Nation an apology for dereliction of duty – 3 whole weeks of pussyfooting, and for weeks kept the truth or any news from being reported to the rest of Malaysians.

    Our Armed forces and police now have to face the consequences of Project IC started by the Mamakkutty?
    There must be some undisclosed reasons why our government dares not wipe out them although we are able to do so.I wonder how many of Malaysian Police is going to get killed before this problem can be solved?

  8. Cobbold commission not with standing,there’s someone here that’s pulling the string,the timing is just too perfect,they had years to do what they wanted ( those Tausugs ) scaring the shit of of Sabahans,my theory still stands, another bigger group will come just days after the dissolution of our Parliament and if desperate enough,Najib will announce Mageran on Sabah. By his calculations he has already lost his fixed deposit from that state, why else would he go licking Taib’s arse,flip flopping along the way…..Oouch!!

  9. It’s not all about firepower. The question is these soldiers from Sulu Sultanate are living within the community. If you use the big guns or the combat attack fighters you will carpet the whole area. So who is going to accept responsibility for the loss of innocent lives of Malaysian citizens when such operations are carried out? The Sulus are smart, they blend in and use the Malaysian citizens as human sheilds.

    Malaysian soldiers and policemen will face constant danger when carrying out their duties either in peacetime or during such operations. It’s part and parcel of the career and oath to uphold peace and to serve King and country. The question is how to minimize the risk when carrying out these duties.

    At issue here is the special treatment accorded to the soldiers from the Sulu Sultanate whereby limiting action by the military and police personnel and at the same time exposing them to extreme danger This is where the political leaders will be held responsible for whatever hidden agenda that they may have for handling this situation is such a manner.

  10. “They are not militant…we are monitoring closely” …of course not. They bypassed the sea patrols because they came in legitimately! I am just waiting for the confirming ground reports (no, not the no-balls MSM) that the insurgents and some of the sulu sultanate are actually blue IC carriers…..
    It is clear the first wave came earlier than reported to infiltrate and assimilate with their kinsmen. 6 dead policemen later, you see the locals moving out en masse. The next wave is coming.
    Speculate on whether it is external instigation/ project IC biting back/ soft armchair generals/ juvenile finger pointing politicians… containment is critical and needed now.
    God, be with our soldiers. Keep them safe.

  11. Time and time again, Hisham has been proven to be an incompetent creature who happens to be where he is now because of his father’s name. I hope the Sulu invaders will just bring him along to where ever they decide to go next.

  12. Veteran, It’s not in our culture to show off our butts, but Malaysian so called vets are happy to do it in front of Ambiga’s house. Now here’s a real enemy, what an opportunity.
    No butt shake needed, we get even.

  13. Malaysian security forces are now facing battle-tested, Malaysian-trained commanders of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), who know Sabah like the palm of their hands.
    Hadji Acmad Bayam, former chief propagandist of the MNLF, revealed this yesterday to the Manila Bulletin, adding that these MNLF forces may have at their disposal a huge arsenal, which they hid deep in Sabah’s rugged terrain when they returned to the Philippines after their rigid training.
    Among the firearms are Belgian-made G1 and FAL, which the late Libya leader Colonel Moammar Khadafy supplied through Malaysia.

  14. semfer fi

    Colonial Britain and the Netherlands carved up the island in the nineteenth century and Malaysia and Indonesia took their shares upon independence. Britain agreed to independence for the tiny oil-rich sultanate of Brunei on Borneo’s west coast.
    But under a pre-colonial pact between sultans, Sulu, in what would later become the Philippines, was awarded control of the northern corner of Borneo, in what would later become Malaysia.

  15. Hi there would you mind stating which blog platform you’re working with? I’m going to start my own blog in the near future but I’m having a hard time making a decision between BlogEngine/Wordpress/B2evolution and Drupal. The reason I ask is because your layout seems different then most blogs and I’m looking for something unique.

    P.S My apologies for being off-topic but I had to ask!

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