Lahad Datu Incursion: Politics At the Expense of Lives

March 6, 2013

Lahad Datu Incursion: Politics At the Expense of Lives

by Jahabar Sadiq
Editor, The Malaysian Insider

Philippine PresidentA bid to undermine Philippine President Benigno Aquino in the republic’s mid-term elections in May and control the bicameral legislature is said to be a reason for the Sulu Sultanate’s incursion of Sabah, say sources.

The Malaysian Insider understands Philippine politicians want to put pressure on Aquino ahead of the 2016 presidential elections to get a pardon for his predecessor, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, who is under house arrest for electoral sabotage.

Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III, who ordered the armed incursion to claim Sabah last month, ran as a senator as part of Arroyo’s Team Unity in the country’s 2007 elections. He lost by some 800 votes.

“Some want to undermine Aquino in the mid-term legislative elections to enable them to control of the Senate and the House before the 2016 presidential election.

“This will ensure that Arroyo will get pardoned later,” a diplomatic corps source told The Malaysian Insider.

Several political commentators have already taken Aquino to task over Malacanang Palace’s handling of the situation, saying the first-term president was not backing the sultanate’s claim to their ancestral lands.

“This is just pure politics and the Sulu claim is also politics,” said a source based in the Philippines.

Aquino has said Manila will look into the claim for Sabah, but said the Sulu Sultan and his followers should respect Malaysian law and not carry out the incursion. He also said the Philippines did not allow private armies, ensuring the so-called Royal Sulu Sultanate Army was illegal.

Coincidentally, Putrajaya had also blamed Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim of being in contact with the Sulu royalty before Jamalul Kiram’s brother, Agbimuddin Kiram, landed in Lahad Datu with armed followers on February 9.

But the Filipino militants have denied any links with the opposition in Malaysia, where a general election is due to be held before end June.

Malaysian security forces moved in yesterday to end the standoff with Agbimuddin Kiram’s group holed up in Kampung Tanduo, Lahad Datu. Fighter jets screamed through the air as artillery pounded the village before soldiers moved in to flush out the militants.

Putrajaya has said that the operation codenamed “Ops Daulat” was a success and no casualties reported, but added the forces were still looking for the militants.

Eight Malaysian policemen had died earlier in two skirmishes that also killed 20 militants in Semporna and Lahad Datu, both areas with large population of Sulu people who are either Malaysian or Philippine citizens.

However, they are said to owe their allegiance to the sultanate, which has Sultan Jamalul Kiram IIIfive claimants to the throne. Malaysia still pays RM5,000 a year to the sultanate for the ancestral lands first leased to the North Borneo Company in the 19th century.

Influential Philippine news portal reported that before his senatorial bid, Jamalul Kiram was a member of the Legislative and Executive Advisory Council (LEDAC) on the Sabah Claim and was Arroyo’s Presidential Adviser on Muslim Royalties Concern.

In the 2007 elections, Jamalul Kiram finished 26th out of 37 candidates. He garnered 2.49 million votes, or 8.4 per cent of the votes cast for all senators. But he lost to then re-electionist senator Edgardo Angara by more than 800 votes. The 74-year-old self-styled sultan got 546,670 votes, while Angara got 547,507.

A total of 18,022 national and local posts, including 12 senatorships, will be decided in this year’s elections. The Philippine Senate has 24 members who serve six year terms.

18 thoughts on “Lahad Datu Incursion: Politics At the Expense of Lives

  1. People do not matter to politicians. It is all about power and the means to achieve it does not matter. It is time for Malaysia and the Philippines to sit down and discuss the issue of pirates and renegades in the Sulu Sea and how to deal with this scourge for peace between neighbours.

    For starters, the Sabah Claim should not be on the negotiating table since it had been resolved in 1963 when Malaysia was formed. The problem is that no Philippine President has the courage to formally renounce it. It always crops during elections.–Din Merican

  2. Irrespective of what happened in the Philippines or elsewhere, politically charged or not, those men are terrorist! They are to the very least, undermining the international law of a sovereign state, regardless of who they are.

  3. Any right thinking decent human can always take a TRUE politician’s word with a grain of salt and then spit it out. It is the hypocrite and ass-lickers and bounty hunters and rent seekers who demonize and slander were the MOST dangerous beings creeping on this earth.
    Finding them were easy, just surf the net and you will find them a dozen a sen.

  4. We must stop talking about ‘sulu sultanate’. It does not exist and not recognized by any state. Philippine is a republic. So, no question about it non-existence. The non-existent sulu sultan ‘ceded’ the control of sabah to pilipppines in 1962. That is ‘official’.

    If our politicians continue trying to sleep with the ghosts, the nightmare may one day blow up right on our face.

  5. There is a saying that an accuser has to be careful when pointing an accusing finger at another to avoid having the other fingers pointing at the accuser himself.
    I am afraid the case is against the incumbency on this. The Nazis and the Japs had used external threats to hold on to power. Marcos did it by using the communist insurgency to declare martial law. Even Maggie mamee did it with the Falklands war to regain popular support as did the Argentinian president who lost the gamble and not just the war but along with it the lives of thousands of young Argentinian soldiers.
    We need to do a lot of soul searching here and ask ourselves how did we get into this mess and why? With nincompoops running the country who needs external enemies?

  6. Putrajaya has said that the operation codenamed “Ops Daulat” was a success and no casualties reported, but added the forces were still looking for the militants.


    This is world’s first achievement in the theatre of warfare where there are no casualties. After 2 hours of aerial bombings on the intruders, no dead bodies were found. This means the intruders have escaped the heavy assault with their skins unscathed. This no good for our boys’ morale to find out they have been fighting against phantoms who can just vanished into thin air. After the Star was screaming through the headlines that the airstrike was a total defeat for the intruders, now the question to ask: where are the bodies?

  7. Bumburing has sold out Sabah by backing Anwar who invited Moros to invade Sabah.
    Sarah, this is dangerous statement to make. You need irrefutable evidence to show that Anwar has committed a treasonous act. In contrast, Dr. Mahathir has admitted that he gave the Filipino Sulus blue i/cs making them citizens of Malaysia. That is an act of treason.–Din Merican

  8. ..and all these while at Semenanjung, we were worried about the Mykad’d shahrukh khan lookalikes courting our fair maidens and going to poll. Heck! they might also lay a wonky claim 1day…

  9. We cannot continue to harp on why stern action was not taken when these people came on shore. We all have a problem on our hands, politics aside. I think I would say well done to the government to send in our army, albeit a belated decision, to deal with this potential insurgency. Like it or not, it is war. Hishamuddin has no business to be in Lahad Datu and must return to his ministerial duties in Kuala Lumpur. Avoid being a nuisance.

    Let us hope military action can drive these invaders out of Lahad Datu. But we must think beyond military action. We have to seek a permanent solution to the question of the Philippine claim to Sabah at the diplomatic level involving bilateral talks between our leaders and the Philippine government. Are our Foreign Minister and Wisma Putra ready for this? Since the US (an ally of the Philippines and its proxy in Southeast Asia) and the PRC (apparently backing the Moros) are keenly interested the status of Sabah, we should prepare for the pressure that big powers can put on us. There is always the possibility of a UN administered referendum (self determination ala Timor Leste). If that is the case, what should be our reaction?

    Any ideas, guys? My own view is that we should avoid such a referendum since our sovereignty and territorial integrity cannot be subject to negotiation. We should, however, persuade the Philippine government to formally drop their claim in the interest of good bilateral relations. Let our two countries be a model of cooperation and mutual understanding.

    While we seeking a diplomatic solution with the Philippines, we must review our security arrangements to protect our porous borders. For example, we should station our troops in Lahad Datu, and increase aerial and naval surveillance of our air space and territorial waters. –Din Merican

  10. Yes in Mali the French went in and cleared the place in two days, claimed victory and left the place in the hands of Malian troops. Within days ‘AQ’ returned to do as they pleased. This is a delicate matter and we have to handle it with care. We do not want egg on our face in the end.

  11. Like I said, there is always someone behind the screen instigating and pulling the strings.

    The viable solution to this issue is through ASEAN and going back to the norm of maintaining the spirit of unity and strength in common purpose which includes sticking to the main core principles – in this instance, mainly to shut out China, U.S. or any outside parties from sticking their noses in the region, to cease their support and funding to their proxies to escalate the tension.

    Secondly, to convince all parties that the peaceful solution is the only viable option. War and strife are too costly in terms of both lives and resources. War will benefit no one but the merchants of death and those who have ulterior motives in getting their hands on the vast natural resources in the region.

    Thirdly, we are well capable in solving our own problems the ASEAN way without outside interference.

    Fourthly, restart the Bangsamoro peace initiative but this time, include the MNLF, the Suluks, et al . They have to get their acts together to sort out their differences to come to a win-win arrangement to share the wealth and power among themselves to avoid a Gaza situation.

    Fifthly, that Sabah being part of Malaysia is not open for negotiation. Malaysia will do what is necessary to defend her sovereignty which includes going to war if there is no peaceful solution. And ultimately, we all lose everything. There are no winners in war – Menang jadi arang, kalah jadi habuk.

  12. If that is the case, what should be our reaction? -Dato Din

    We can ‘buat bodoh’ but on the other hand there are hundreds of thousands of Filipinos already in Sabah. Philippines give a figure of about 1/2 million and this does not include ex-Filipinos who are now citizens of Malaysia courtesy of Project M. I think this is the trump card that they hold now.

    Citizenships were given freely especially during the last 20 years for UMNO/USNO political expediency. No stringent criteria nor screening process; just a threat that they must vote for BN. Most of them are still living in squalor conditions and are ripe to be instigated. I doubt trying to revoke their citizenships is advisable nor feasible. Instead a comprehensive ‘hearts and mind’ campaign as well as instilling loyalty and patriotism for their new country must be carried out. Instead of brain-washing civil servants and students to be loyal to a BN government, BTN should take the lead in these campaigns.

    Then maybe we have a much better chance in ‘repulsing’ future calls to give up Sabah.

    And for heaven’s sake, stop giving out citizenships like giving out BR1M vouchers. Illegal immigrants should also be rounded up and send back. Definitely strengthening intel gathering as well as the security of Sabah are also at the top of the list.

  13. What has happened to Isa Manteqi? I hope he has not been taken hostage by those invaders in Lahad Datu. Could he have one of the four taken in by them? Without him, Najib will have one supporter less. I am quite Isa would advise caution and restraint. Wait until someone with arms enters his house and threatens his famliy. I am not sure if he will exercise restraint and offer the intruder a cuppa and roti canai.–Din Merican

  14. For God’s sake, from now on in order to navigate this delicate situation successfully, Hisapmudin, the most incompetent Home Minister; the Foreign Minister; the Defence Minister; and the school boy, Mahathir who couldn’t different between cash price and contract price in the Port Klang scandal must be barred from having anything to do with Sabah.

    Najib is the Prime Minister and he must not allow Mahathir to usurp his responsibilities as the Prime Minister anymore. Mahathir is a proven disaster and his Project IC has caused Sabah to be a security risk to the rest of the country. His simplistic approach towards race and religion as the the only solution to power is faulty and dangerous in human relations and harmony. Najib must wake up and smell the coffee: Mahathir is the divisive factor in the fabric of multiracial Malaysia. Najib must forthwith order Mahathir to stop and desist from interfering in his duties, and stop him from appointing himself as the uninvited Prime Minister of the government. Send him to Hilton Sungai Buloh with the courtesy of the people to enjoy free food and rest.

    But then, can Najib do the necessary? A man with scandals after scandals following in his every wake cannot be trusted to outwit a cunning fox like Mahathir. So the only wise course for Malaysians is to send UMNO and BN into limbo.

  15. Life is cheap in Malaysia. How much will the widow and ophran of the policeman killed in the line of duty get? RM 30k. What can you buy for RM 30K? The BN leaders have been known to blow away RM 30k in one evening. Even the handbag or the Jimmy Choo shoes of Che Mah Chot cost more than RM 30K.

  16. What Anwar should be telling the Suluks is this, “Chill out bros, be cool. We know you been screwed royally by your own. Tell us about it! You wanna talk, we talk but not now, we have a political crisis going on. Ease off. Let us have our GE so we can kick out the bangsat celakas from Putrajaya. When we are in government, we will make sure that get you back in the Bangsamoro Peace initiative and see that you get a fair deal.”

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