Sabtu, Mac 30, 2013

‘SABAH CLAIM’ NOTHING BUT A LAND GRABBING CONSPIRACY?

Nothing but a land grabbing conspiracy

Iskandar Dzulkarnain

Openly admitting that Manila has not given up its claim on Sabah, the Aquino administration is merely echoing the demented claims of a loony Sultan.

March 30, 2013: Six weeks ago, 200 armed Filipino militants invaded Sabah, Malaysia. They demanded the unconditional return of Sabah in the name of the Sultanate of Sulu.

Malaysian authorities took a soft stand to persuade these delusional militants to leave in peace and to avoid any bloodshed. Events turned nasty when two policemen were gunned down in cold blood. The army retaliated swiftly to end the crisis resulting in the deaths of 70 people. No Scud missiles were used.

And just as Malaysia embarked on mopping-up operations to hunt down the remnants of the Royal Sulu Army and working overtime to return the Sabah situation back to normal, the Philippine government in an about turn has indicated that Manila has not dropped its claim on Sabah.

Hopefully, in another few weeks Sabah would be back to normal and the incident forgotten, and Malaysia could go on living in peace and harmony. The 800,000 Filipinos are welcome to stay as long as they are carrying proper documents issued by the Malaysian or Filipino governments.

Malaysia took in close to a million Filipino refugees running away from a devastating Civil War, clothed them, fed them and even gave them land on water to build water-villages. In addition we gave them jobs and citizenships, so that they could start a new life and call Sabah their home. These refugees have long given up hope on the Filipino government to care for their needs.

It is quite apparent that the Aquino’s administration has no wish to see the cessation of hostilities. Maybe six weeks is far too short for them to capitalise on the Sabah situation for political gain.

Arresting the perpetrators like the fake Sultan may rouse the anger of the Sulus, or else how can they explain their inaction, even though there is hard evidence pointing to their involvement?

They are also pointing fingers at the opposition and insinuating a political conspiracy… And with an impending general election due this coming May, the combined votes of the Southern Filipinos means a lot.

But sadly, reports from the Philippines indicate that it is far from over. The government seems to be taking over from where the loony Sultan has left of.

His administration is embarking on another suicidal mission to ignite the sparks by going ahead to engage lawyers to stake a claim on the territory.

Openly admitting that Manila has not given up its claim on Sabah, the Aquino administration is merely echoing the demented claims of a loony Sultan.

Thoughts of reclaiming Sabah

It is quite clear that the Philippines is harbouring thoughts of reclaiming Sabah, as reported by the Philippine Star quoting Cabinet Secretary Jose Rene Almendras. The daily also reported Aquino as saying yesterday that his administration was drawing up a roadmap to end the dispute over Sabah peacefully.

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

Yes, friendship is very important, but why wouldn’t Leila want to strain its friendship with us? Is it because, Malaysia had helped broker a peace deal in the southern Philippines?

Hardly a year of peace has gone by, and already war mongering politicians are eyeing further south of Mindanao for any land worth grabbing?!

Aquino’s insensitive statements will only lend credence to the MNLF and Suluks that Sabah rightly belongs to them, (and not to the Philippines) and to embark on another senseless guerrilla war. After all, the “Sultan” has already given his blessings!

President Aquino is now calling for negotiations to resolve the crisis and the claims dispute. But what peace talks is he talking about? Does he want Malaysia to stand down once again as the Royal Army continue to plan in peace their next “hit and run” guerrilla attack?

Meanwhile, their Senate seems to be deflecting attention to the events by asking the government to file a formal complaint with Putrajaya on the allegations of abuse of Filipinos.

The Philippine government seems to be more alarmed at the potential refugees fleeing the war-zone. Aquino has reportedly ordered government officials to stock up on food supplies and step up humanitarian support to Filipinos including illegal emigrants.

The aftermath of the crisis has resulted in untold damage to the economy of Sabah and the displacement of thousands of villagers, with many dead and wounded.

But sad to say, the perceived exodus of thousands of Filipino refugees back to their war-torn homeland has yet to materialize. It goes to show that the Malaysian government is more humane and the alleged atrocities were mere fabrication by the Filipino administration.

According to Malacanang Palace, the Sultanate of Sulu is defunct since 1936. Malaysians also believe the Kiram family are “royal fakes”. A “crazy bogus Sultan” trying to start a war with Malaysia, and yet the Philippine government continues to give them due recognition by openly addressing them as Sultan which has gone into their heads.

Their reckless misadventures are ricocheting back on the 800,000 peaceful and law abiding Pinoys residing in Sabah.

With the body count well over 70, untold damage and misery caused to civilians, the Philippine government has yet to initiate any action to arrest and prosecute the Kiram family, who are still happily calling the shots in their modest palace.

Boldly calling on his royal army to launch guerrilla attacks on Malaysian soil, the “crazy” Sultan is also claiming that they are now sitting targets for Malaysian commandos out to assassinate them.

Malaysians are now resigned to the fact that the “weird” Kirams are VVIP’s and do enjoy immunity from Filipino laws.

Rekindling a new conflict?

Haven’t they come to their senses that the last Civil War against the MILF militants have caused hundreds of thousands of casualties and destroyed the economy of the Philippines? It also caused hundreds of thousands of Sulu refugees to flee to East Malaysia to escape the conflict.

But less than a year of a shaky ceasefire, war drums are starting to sound again by the opportunists in Manila, much to the excitement of the restless and bored freedom fighters raring to go into action?

The Philippines is still reeling dizzily from its last war, and walking into any government office, banks, wet markets or shopping complexes is like walking into an airport security check where you will be constantly frisked for weapons.

The Philippine government may not admit it, but where else in Asia or Southeast Asia has anyone come across such heavy security like in the Philippines?

The Philippines should focus on improving the economic livelihood of its 90 million nationals before embarking on another foolish misadventure like the loony Sultan of Sulu.

We need to leave the past behind, and focus on the future. Sabahans made the right choice when they chose to join the Federation of Malaysia in 1963. At that time, Philippines were never an option and neither is it today.

Exactly 50 years later in 2013 a delusional “Sultan” decides to revive the claim, and the Philippines government seems to be echoing and endorsing his stand.

A case scenario

Should this case ever go to the International Court of Justice, it would likely be thrown out as the ICJ has ruled before in favour of Malaysia on the Ligitan dispute with Indonesia.

In the unlikely event that a referendum be held among Sabahans to vote for cession from Malaysia, we believe the majority of KadazanDusuns including the 800,000 Tausugs would elect to remain in the Malaysian Federation, unless the Filipino government can guarantee Sabahans a better economic future and that Sabahans will not be forced to ply their labour throughout the world like Filipino maids and wandering musicians.

And if somehow by a twist of fate, Sabah does revert to the Philippines, how long will it take for the Sulus to declare Independence from the Philippines?

When is Manila going to realise that the Sulus just want Sabah for themselves and not for it to be part of Philippines? Apparently, it is not just the Sulus but the Philippines too are also greedily eyeing Sabah.

In and about turn, Manila has given directives to all its agencies and Filipinos to call Sabah as a state that is not a part of Malaysian territory.

It is quite clear that Manila is eyeing Sabah and harbours ill intentions of grabbing the territory. Even the Filipino refugees fleeing Sabah are now termed as displaced Filipinos and evacuees instead. So much for “sincere” Filipino diplomacy and friendly relations.

It also shows that the “self-styled Sultan of Sulu” weren’t acting alone, and it smells of a big delicate and intricate conspiracy to reclaim Sabah through dubious means that led to the untimely deaths of 72 people.

Maybe Malaysia in turn, should invite Mindanao and the Sulu Islands in a referendum to join the Malaysian Federation. With Malaysia’s economic expertise, it won’t be long before Mindanao and the Sulu Islands join the ranks of first world countries.

China is watching closely at the situation and is ready to pounce when the time is right. Let us not give each other any excuse to sour the good relations existing among our Asian neighbours and embark on land grabbing exercises that will only lead to chaos.

Tour consultant, sports pilot and naturalist Iskandar Dzulkarnain has been writing a few years now. He is a FMT columnist.

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Palace urged to first meet with Sulu sultan before reclaiming Sabah

‘Don’t call Sabah part of Malaysia’

China holds landing exercises in disputed sea

MILF wants peace talks fast-tracked

Peace talks with MILF to continue

Sultanate now singing a different tune – Palace

Palace downplays plot to kill Sulu sultan

AFP official denies alleged Kiram kill plot

Gov’t to take Sabah claim to int’l court after review

Leaving Sabah not an option – sultan

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