Monday, March 18, 2013

In Sulu ‘Sultan’s’ invasion, smoke and mirrors

LABUAN, March 18 — The Lahad Datu invasion episode is no more than a pretentious display of authority by the pretender Sulu “Sultan” Jamalul Kiram III and those in cahoots with him.

The ridiculous action taken by Jamalul and his loyal militants is an act in futility.

What more when Malacanang Palace itself has made it clear that the Sulu Sultanate is now defunct with the last recognised sultan being Sultan Jamalul Ikram II (1884-1936).

A group of 234 militants led by Jamalul’s brother the so called Rajah Muda Agbimuddin Kiram landed in Kampung Tanduo on February 9, ostensibly to renew the so called sultanate’s claim over Sabah.

After weeks of negotiating a peaceful departure of the armed invaders, Malaysia had no choice but boot them out.

And after many of his free-booting mercenaries died fighting, Jamalul in a face saving attempt stated that they would never surrender in Lahat Datu and would fight until their last men.

The “Sulu Sultan’s” condescending attitude was further compounded by the polemics of the Sultan’s brother “Sultan Bantilan Esmail Kiram II” and pride of Jamalul’s daughter “princes” Jacel Kiram.

Certain local leaders (opposition) and the Sulu Sultanate’s sympathisers in Sabah also provided certain recognition to Jamalul.

Even before the events started unravelling, an opposition leader in Sabah had admitted of meeting the “Sultan of Sulu”.

However, he did not dwell into what transpired in the meeting and had clarified that the one he met was not Jamalul behind the current woes.

This is not surprising as no less than six parties are claiming the throne of the Sulu Sultanate that is no longer recognised.

The local leader is said to be highly vocal over Sabah’s rights and autonomy.

However, since the incident, he has not been heard in the open.

Jamalul remained defiant right from the start, even when the Philippine President Benigno S. Aquino’s warned him that “you will not succeed” (in claiming Sabah).

He has been obstinate despite the fact 62 of his men have been killed along with 10 Malaysian security personnel.

Jamalul and his followers have no regards to history and the fact that Sabahan’s have decided Sabah (formerly known as North Borneo) as one of the states under the Malaysian Federation.

The stand taken by the Philippine government during the formation of the Federation of Malaysia is well reported by the Philippine Daily Inquirer daily that reproduced the original article quoting Senator Lorenzo Sumulong that appeared on the Manila Times dated March 25, 1963.

Sumulong in his privileged speech on Sabah (filed by President Diosdado Macapagal on 22 June, 1962), said; “What is the gain of involving ourselves in North Borneo (now Sabah), if after all, even if we recover it, we are committed to the idea of letting the North Borneans determine what their eventual fate would be?”

“... the better course to follow is for our government to inform the United Nations (UN) in due time, i.e., when the Federation of Malaysia Plan is submitted for consideration in the UN, that we are voluntarily relinquishing whatever claims of sovereignty we may have to any portion of North Borneo in order to accelerate the changing of its status from a non-self-governing territory to that of a self-governing or independent state and that we favour holding a plebiscite under UN auspices to give the people of North Borneo the opportunity to freely express their will and wishes...”

Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic and International) Prof Dr Shariff AK Omang said the invasion could have been avoided if the group concerned understood the plebiscite conducted by the Cobbold Commission.

No matter what, the incident like mentioned by prime minister has served as a wakeup call for Malaysia to enhance its future planning and strategies in mitigating threats to the nation’s sovereignty.

Subsequent to the intrusion, UMS has established the Sabah Strategic Studies Centre as a platform to provide views, advice and information relating to future issues relating to safety, economy, social, history, education, politics and domestic issues.

“Now we are faced with a security threat, maybe in the future we may face threats to our economy and so forth,” he said.

However, all this and the historical facts are not good enough to convince Jamalul and his followers that their struggle is in vain. — Bernama

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