It’s been nearly a month since the Royal Sulu Army standoff in Lahad Datu began and it’s not showing signs of letting up soon. History is a beautiful thing but it’s not worthwhile manipulating it so that Malaysia’s sovereignty over Sabah can come into question. We’re getting so caught up in the olde Sulu claim that we’re forgetting another historical instance – 31st August 1963. With or without Malaya, Sabah sudah merdeka. Sabah is an independent state in Malaysia.
So let’s not use history to justify the motives of terrorists who invaded Sabah because they wanted to take us by force; who stained Sabah soil with the blood of men who died defending it and expect us to crumble to their claims.
Don’t compensate them because they once ‘owned’ parts of our land without the knowledge of indigenous North Borneons who are the true caretakers of the land. The Sultanate of Sulu does not ‘own’ North Borneo. They had land in North Borneo from Pandassan River on the north west coast to Sibuco River in the south. So if they say they “own Sabah”, they are clearly mistaken.
If there is a blood debt, Southern Filipinos owe it to us. From the 70s to the 90s during the Mindanao conflict, Sabah was one of the biggest supporters and funders of the MNLF through our former Chief Minister Tun Mustapha bin Datu Harun – a Suluk. They practically owe our autonomy to us. During the 70s we opened our arms to 50,000 war torn Southern Filipinos and showed them hospitality. Some elderly Sabahans still think of these Moros fondly. Sabahans love Sabah and our Filipino neighbours are welcome to share this land with us legally but today the ‘Royal Sulu army’ are using guns and bombs against us, telling us to surrender our home to them. Guns which most likely came from Sabah money. Today, Sabahans still consider Filipinos friends and part of our community but there are people who will not return this friendship.
Let’s stop funding their wars once and for all. The so-called Royal Sulu Army can claim to have come in under peaceful pretenses but the actions of these invaders so far have been violent and they are refusing compromise. We should give them no compensation and we should stop paying their cession altogether. To not do so would mean to allow Sabah to be colonised. So what happens to our ‘merdeka’? There is no point in North Borneo’s history that the Sultanate of Sulu has ever earned for us what he says we owe him. North Borneo belonged to North Borneons even before the Sultanate of Sulu or Brunei ever made their claims on us. So let’s arrest these neo coloniser wannabes and be done with it. If the Philippines wants to discuss the Sabah claim any further they may, but not this way.
Furthermore both the Malaysian government and the Philippines government need to stop talking about Sabah as though Sabahans don’t exist. Sabahans should also stop letting West Malaysia talk on our behalf and the only way to do so is for us to speak up about our own issues. 50 years on we still maintain that we reserve our right to self-determination.
In 2001, the International Court of Justice rendered judgement in a case concerning Sovereignty over Pulau Ligitan and Pulau Sipadan (Indonesia v. Malaysia) Application by the Philippines for Permission to Intervene Judgment of 23 October 2001.
In denying the Philippines’ motion to intervene, the Court ruled that,
“… historic title, no matter how persuasively claimed on the basis of old legal instruments and exercises of authority, cannot – except in the most extraordinary circumstances – prevail in law over the rights of non-self-governing people to claim independence and establish their sovereignty through the exercise of bona fide self-determination.
Meaning no matter how valid the historical ties, the people of Sabah have spoken and if you don’t like it, simply put – you’re still not entitled to shove a gun in our face. We’re living in the 21st century and Jamalul Kiram III is not Genghis Khan. This is not about land entitlement, it’s about the right to a sovereign state. We should be able to tell the defunct Sultanate ourselves once and for all that we, the emancipated peoples of Sabah respectfully reject their claim and it doesn’t mean we can’t still be friends.
Sorry that this post is so brash. My gosh. I just really don’t like guns.