By: Abigail Kwok, InterAksyon.com and Hafiz Yatim, Malaysiakini.com
A list of Malaysian civil servants from 1975 shows the name of Raja Muda Agbimuddin Kiram (photo from malaysiakini.com)
MANILA, Philippines 20/03/2013- (UPDATE 3:40PM) A leading opposition party in Malaysia said Agbimuddin Kiram, the crown prince of Sulu who led more than 200 followers to press their claim to Sabah, is a Malaysian citizen and once served as assistant district officer of Kudat, Sabah. The sultanate confirmed he once worked there decades ago, but denied he is a Malaysian citizen.
This developed as the daughter of Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III, challenged President Benigno Aquino III to explain what she claimed were his close ties to the sultan of the “very powerful” Malaysian state of Johor.
The independent news site Malaysiakini reported that Parti Keadilan Rakyat director of strategy Rafizi Ramli said: "A search by PKR deputy secretary-general Darrel Iking at the national archives on the list of Civil Servants 1975 revealed the name 'Datu Agbimudin Kiram' stated there as an assistant district officer."
"I want Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak to explain whether (Agbimuddin) is truly a Malaysian who was naturalized under 'Project IC' and whether he is an Umno member as most Sulu people in Sabah are," Rafizi said, noting that rumors about Agbimuddin had been making the rounds since the Sabah crisis started because he seemed to be familiar to residents there.
Worked in Sabah, but Filipino all throughout
In Taguig City, the Philippines, Abraham Idjirani, sultanate spokesman and secretary general, confirmed that Raja Muda Agbimuddin Kiram used to serve as assistant district officer in Kudat, Sabah but denied that the latter was a Malaysian citizen.
Raja Muda Kiram was also not issued a IC card by Malaysia.
"That time they said bigyan nyo kami ng IC, sabi ng Sabah authorities kahit hindi kayo bigyan, kayo ang may-ari ng Sabah [they said, ‘give us IC cards, but Sabah authorities told them, ‘even if we don’t give you, you own Sabah anyway]," Idjirani said.
He said even the wife of Raja Muda Kiram worked at the public hospital during that time.
Idjirani said the Kirams were in residency in Sabah after the Jabidah massacre of 1968.
UMNO in hot water over card-for-vote scheme
Umno, or the United Malays National Organization, is Malaysia’s ruling party and counts Prime Minister Najib Razak among its members.
“Project IC,” on the other hand, was a controversial program during the term of former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammad that critics say saw many erstwhile illegal Filipino migrants in Sabah given Malaysian identity cards and citizenship in an alleged scheme to woo their votes.
Since the situation in Sabah worsened, both UMNO and PKR have accused each other of instigating the crisis.
Aquino consulting Johor sultan?
Meanwhile, Princess Jacel Kiram claimed Malacanang “insiders” informed her Johor Sultan Ibrahim Ismail was acting as Aquino’s “adviser” in handling the Sabah conflict.
She claimed the Johor sultan lived with the Aquino family in Boston when the late Senator Benigno Aquino Jr., the President’s father, went into exile in the United States during the Marcos dictatorship.
"Who is Sultan Ibrahim Ismail of Johor, Malaysia to you?" Princess Jaccel asked Aquino. "Is he the person responsible (for) why the President wouldn't listen to any advise from any of his local counsel?"
"Who is he to you Mr. President? What does he have to do with your act regarding this issue?" she added.