Thursday, February 14, 2013

Philippine’ Sultanate of Sulu Royal Forces STANDOFF with illegal Malaysia Government in NBorneo

Map of the Sultanate of Sulu. The Sulu Sultanate was once a powerful kingdom, stretching from Borneo, Southern Philippines to parts of the Visayas, Part of Mindanao, Palawan to the Spratly Islands. During the height of its power during the 1700s, the Sultanate exercise  control over most of what is now known as Mindanao and North Borneo.

Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said about 80 to 100 gunmen apparently belonging to the "royal army" of the Philippine' Sultanate of Sulu had been cornered by security forces near the small coastal town of Lahad Datu in Sabah, North Borneo.

He said security forces were in control and negotiating with the group, some of whom were armed.

The area was once controlled by the old Sultanate of Sulu but Britain illegally ceded the North Borneo to Malaysia without informing the Sultan and without even paying a single dime to the Sultan who ruled the territory.

'till todate, Malaysia still recognized Sabah State or North Borneo State as part of the Sultanate of Sulu by paying a rental of M$5,000 Malaysian Ringgit per year to the Royal Sultanate of the Southern Philippines.

Britain, the responsible of the trouble in the Southern Philippines for the illegal transfer of the territory to Malaysia remained silent for few decades and ignored the call of the Philippines to respect the Sultanate of Sulu as the original Territorial owner of Sabah (North Borneo) and the territory must be return to the Sultanate of Sulu. Philippines and the Sultanate of Sulu State are too weak also to against the illegal order and the bully of the abusing  powerful Britain.  

Malaysia's national police chief Ismail Omar was quoted as saying the estimated 80 to 100 armed Sultanate of Sulu Royal Armies had declared themselves followers of "a descendant of the Sultan of Sulu."

Ismail, quoted on the website of The Star newspaper, said the group demanded to be recognized as the "Royal Sulu Sultanate Army" and insisted that as subjects of the sultanate, they should be allowed to remain in Sabah.

The Standoff begun after Malaysian Government deported the Sulu Nationals who settled in North Borneo for several decades. The Sulu Nationals (Philippine Citizen of the Southern Philippines under the old Sultanate of Sulu) still believe that Sabah or North Borneo is still part of the Sultanate of Sulu and they must be allowed to stay in Sabah as long as they want as it is part of the Sultanate of Sulu but Malaysian Government deported several hundreds of their compatriots and would probably affect the estimated 30% of the total residents of Sabah who are originally from the old Sultanate of Sulu Capital in the Southern Philippines.

In Manila, Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario said the two countries "were in touch on the issue" but the details were unclear because "we are still trying to ascertain and complete the facts of this incident."

"What I've said earlier, we are still trying to complete our information Del Rosario told reporters.

Bernama said the Filipinos, who were wearing military fatigue uniforms, arrived in Lahad Datu on Tuesday and were isolated in a secluded area. Police officials said they have been told "to lay down their arms and surrender."

Gulf News said the armed men belong to the "Royal Army of Sulu," who were out to resurrect the Philippine's claim over Sabah."

"Unconfirmed reports from our sources said that a group who called themselves the Royal Army of Sulu Sultanate is behind the unauthorized armed presence," Gulf News said.

In 1963, Sabah, which was leased by the Sulu Sultanate to the British since the 19th century, became part of the Federation of Malaysia when Britain illegally ceded the territory to Malaysia . The Filipinos protested, claiming that Sabah was never sold to foreign interests.

The military declined to comment on the issue, but highly-placed sources said the men were believed to be the heirs of the Sultanate of Sulu, who came from the islands of Basilan, Tawi-tawi and Sulu in Mindanao.

A military official, who asked not to be named, said the Filipinos were unarmed and they decided to sail to Sabah after a meeting in a schoolhouse in Tawi-Tawi because "Sabah belongs to us."

"Ito iyong grupo na nagki-claim. Nagpulong-pulong sila para pag-usapan kung papaano nila i-continue iyung pag-claim sa Sabah. Tapos my mga followers sila na sinasabing kapag sumama kayo magkaroon kayo ng lupa sa Sabah, bigyan kayo ng lupa," the official said.

In 1967, an attempt to land Filipino commandos, trained in Corregidor,  on Sabah  and invade Sabah under the "Operation Merdeka" was aborted after the supposed commandos were all but one killed. The lone survivor of the carnage,  Jibin Arula, revealed  what was eventually known as the Jabidah massacre.

Police Inspector-General Tan Sri Ismail Omar said police "formed the first circle to cordon the area, while military personnel made up the second circle."

"In terms of strength, we have the upper hand in combat power to arrest them. But the government opts for negotiation to break the stalemate so that they leave peacefully to southern Philippines," Omar said.

"But let the police negotiate with them and hopefully, it will bear fruit and succeed. This is because they cannot go anywhere, they have been surrounded. They have no choice and have to find a solution," he said.

Lahad Datu is a town in Tawau Division, in the east of Sabah, on the island of Borneo. The town, which occupies the peninsula on the north side of Darvel Bay, has population of 156,059 based on the 2000 census where 80% of the populations are originally from the Sultanate of Sulu (Basilan, Tawi-tawi, Zamboanga).

Lahad Datu is home to Sabah's population of Orang Bajau and other ethnic tribes or BADJAO who scattered around the Philippines as boat people, such as the Cocos Island Malays, who settled in the area in the 1950s when the Cocos Islands became part of Australia. Lahad Datu is known for its palm oil refineries.

The Philippine government signed a landmark peace deal with Muslim rebels late last year to end the 40-year conflict in the south, but some factions have voiced opposition as the deal could affect their claim that Sabah must be returned first to the Philippines and the Sultanate of Sulu must be re-empowered.

"Since Malaysia brokered the deal, followers from the Misuari Breakaway Group have decided to stir up some trouble and create fireworks in Sabah," the report quoted the Malaysian official as saying.

The Sulu Sultanate was once a powerful kingdom, stretching from Borneo, Southern Philippines to parts of the Visayas, Part of Mindanao, Palawan to the Spratly Islands. During the height of its power during the 1700s, the Sultanate exercise  control over most of what is now known as Mindanao and North Borneo.

Raja Muda Muedzul-Lail Tan Kiram was proclaimed as the 35th Sultan of Sulu during ceremonies held in Maimbung, Jolo last September.

Security on Malaysia's sea border with the Philippines has been problematic for Sabah, where tens of thousands of Filipinos have immigrated in the past few decades.

With report sources from Manila Standard Today, Inquirer, Reuters, and Bangkok Post

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