Sean Ang:"Filipino Bloggers ARE INSTIGATING their countrymen to claim Sabah. UMNO made a blunder by giving them citizenships, and they MUST BE laughing out loud for this stupid decision."
SKETCHES By Ana Marie Pamintuan (The Philippine Star)
Updated February 20, 2013 - 12:00am
"It may look silly, but the “vacation” in Lahad Datu of the “Royal Sultanate Army” of Sulu should inspire the Philippine government to pursue a final settlement of the country’s claim to Sabah.
Most Filipinos are probably unaware that there is a sultanate with a royal army in the country, whose principal realm is one of the most impoverished, underdeveloped and violence-torn provinces.
Malaysia, however, recognizes the Sulu sultanate enough to continue paying rent for much of Sabah to the current sultan, Jamalul Kiram III, whose clan has held ancestral claim to North Borneo for several centuries.
In the 17th century, Sultan Bolkiah of Brunei, whose realm included Sabah (then known as North Borneo) as well as Sulu and even Manila, ceded large swaths of Borneo to the Sulu sultan. The British East India Company forged a deal with the Sultan of Sulu to set up a trading post in the eastern part of Sabah in 1761. Within that century, the Sulu sultanate ceded its territories to Spanish colonizers. In 1848, a part of North Borneo belonging to the Sultan of Brunei was ceded to Britain.
The Philippine claim is anchored on the ancestral heritage of the Sulu sultanate.
Malaysia has largely shrugged off the claim. The people of Sabah went along with Malaya, Sarawak and Singapore to form the Federation of Malaysia in 1963. Opinion ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1
Since then, the people of Sabah have considered themselves Malaysians. But there has been no official move from the Philippines to drop its claim.
This is probably because of the rent that the Sulu sultanate continues to receive from Malaysia.
This is also probably because no Philippine president wants to be known as the one who formally dropped the country’s claim to an island rich in natural resources and home to a World Heritage Site. Sabah is the second largest of the 13 states in the Malaysian federation.
But the Philippines also does not want to ruin its healthy ties with Malaysia. Both countries are founding members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, and Malaysia plays a key role in the ongoing peace initiative with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
This role in the peace process is reportedly being eyed by administration officials as one of the reasons for the Sulu sultanate’s current activities in Sabah, with the not-so-invisible hand of Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) chieftain Nur Misuari seen in the incident.
Misuari and the MNLF, whose peace agreement with the government is recognized by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, reportedly fear being marginalized if a peace deal is signed by the Aquino administration with the MILF.
There are, however, ongoing efforts to bring the MNLF into the peace process with the MILF, with representatives of the two groups meeting overseas last year. So Misuari’s perceived role in the Sabah incident is reportedly puzzling, if not infuriating, P-Noy’s administration.
When Sultan Kiram ran for senator under the Arroyo administration’s Team Unity in 2007, he was reportedly told to shut up on his sultanate’s claim to Sabah.
This time it looks like Kiram sees no need to zip his mouth. He not only is talking about his heritage, but has also told his followers, holed up in Lahad Datu in their version of “Occupy Sabah,” to stay put.
Some administration officials may find the standoff bizarre, but it may eventually force P-Noy to at least lay the groundwork for a final settlement of the Philippines’ claim to Sabah.