South China Morning Post published today my news profile-analysis of Sultan Jamalul Kiram III and the Sabah issue.
My thanks to my editor Andrew London, and Hari Kumar who subbed the piece prior to publication.
My thanks, too, to @Eldes Tran – SCMP’s online news producer for posting my piece on Twitter.
Sultan of Sulu Jamalul Kiram III continues to fight for Sabah
Jamalul Kiram III has taken his demand for the Malaysian state to be given back to his family to the next level, with deadly results
Sunday, 03 March, 2013, 12:00am
When the Moro Islamic Liberation Front rebels signed a framework peace agreement at the Philippine presidential palace last October, one man in the jam-packed Heroes Hall did not join in the jubilation.
That man was 75-year-old Jamalul Kiram III, who was invited to represent the Sultanate of Sulu in the southern Philippines. He comes from a once-wealthy ruling clan that traces its lineage back to the 15th century and what is now Malaysia’s Sabah state.
Kiram was offended that neither Philippine President Benigno Aquino nor Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak had acknowledged his presence.
That royal snub, along with persistent reports of Kiram’s supporters being flogged and deported once again from Sabah, was what drove dozens of his followers to sail from their remote Philippine islands last month to press his claim.
It wasn’t an invasion, Kiram insisted, but a coming home.
“Sabah is ours,” he said, referring to the oil-rich state.
The group representing itself as a royal militia in the service of Kiram arrived by boat on February 12 to re-establish its long-dormant claim to the North Borneo area. The ensuing stand-off with Malaysian authorities erupted into violence on Friday, leaving 14 people dead.
Little of the fabled wealth Kiram’s family once owned is evident in the modest two-storey house in Maharlika Village that he calls home. The village is full of refugees from the decades-long Muslim rebel conflict in Mindanao.
From the statements of Kiram, his relatives and Philippine government documents, there emerges the colourful history of how his family has tried to reassert ownership over Sabah. To this day, the Malaysian embassy in Manila delivers a yearly payment – the equivalent of 5,300 ringgit (HK$13,300).
An exasperated Kiram told Aquino: “Mr President, what more proof do you want us to show that Sabah is ours? By the mere fact that Malaysia is paying us annually in the amount of 5,300 Malaysia ringgit, is it not enough?”
Ten years ago, Malaysia’s ambassador to Manila, Mohamed Taufik, confirmed this arrangement when he told the Sunday Morning Post: “I recently paid 5,000 ringgit to the Kiram family. It’s rather miniscule – around 70,000 pesos.” He said “the rent is still being paid but it doesn’t mean we recognise” the family’s ownership.
To read the rest, pls. click on this link.
I will be posting more on the Sabah issue.
I will also be posting on the Intellectual Property Code amendments and our coming elections.