MANILA: So-called Sulu Sultan Dr Ibrahim Bahjin Shakirullah II said he is not abandoning his claim to Sabah despite Malaysia’s recent rejection of the claim.Bahjin said he has written to the United Nations office in Manila to respond to Malaysia’s note verbale to UN Sec-Gen Antonio Guterres.“While it may sound right, as per Malaysia’s contention that the Philippines does not have the ascendancy to claim Sabah on behalf of the Sultanate of Sulu, it is an undeniable fact that Sabah still remains the territorial possession of the Sultanate of Sulu and the latter has all the rights to claim back her territorial possession,” the sultan said.
The sultanate had “never surrendered our aspirations to claim our land, which is supposed to be returned back to us after a “perpetual” lease of 100 years in accordance with international law, which we all respect,” he said.To this day, Malaysia continues to remit to the sultanate the lease payments yearly “in complete disregard of the fact that the lease has already expired and that the property has to be returned…to its rightful legal owner, the Sultanate of Sulu,” he claimed.Bahjin said the assertion that the occupants of Sabah had expressed their right to self-determination and decided to be Malaysian citizens was immaterial.“They are just squatters in a territory not theirs. And in the event of recovery, they may have the option to relocate themselves in the vast Malaysian land or remain subjects of the Sultanate of Sulu,” the sultan said.He continued: “It is also worth mentioning that our people, Raayats of the Sultanate of Sulu who are presently in Sabah (their own land, so to say), are being cruelly treated, incarcerated, imprisoned, abused and expunged by the Malaysian government. Their predicaments present a huge and outstanding national, even global problem.”Bahjin said the sultanate continues to protest the subjugation of the Raayats “through several attempts, the last and notable of which was the desperate but failed invasion of one of our sultans, Sultan Jamalul Kiram III, and the valiant Raayats of the sultanate in an almost suicidal move out of desperation to regain back our land.”He said the so-called sultanate of Sulu had been yearning for an independent state in Sabah as early as Aug. 14, 2005, in accordance with the Charter of the UN.See Page 2, Col. 1
From Page OneIn a note verbale sent to the UN on August 27 , the Malaysian government said it never recognised the Philippines’ claim on Sabah, formerly known as British North Borneo.Sabah was part of the centuries-old Sultanate of Sulu, which it obtained from Brunei as a gift, he claimed.In the 18th century, the British North Borneo Co. rented it from the Sultan of Sulu for 5,000 Malayan dollars annually. The amount was later increased to 5,300. Malaysia, which gained independence from the British after World War Two, later annexed the area, but continued to pay rent.Meanwhile, Philippine Foreign Minister Teodoro Locsin Jr corrected a report calling Filipinos in Sabah as repatriates, saying they should, instead, be referred to as “transferees.”The secretary again emphasised that Sabah is not in Malaysia. “Now, what’s important to stress here is they should be careful with their language,” Locsin said.“What is important is to say call them transferees, not repatriates. They’re not being repatriated; they’re just being transferred,” he said.He said the Philippines would certainly never give up Sabah as the country “has the legal ownership and sovereignty”.The secretary claimed the so-called Philippine claim is longstanding and well-known and predates the creation of Malaysia in 1963.“While we have always endeavored not to let it affect our relations, it’s up to them. But we will certainly never give it up,” Locsin said.As the successor in sovereignty of the Sultanate of Sulu, Locsin said “the Philippines has legal ownership and sovereignty over Northern Borneo,” which was only leased to the British North Borneo Company in 1878 and as agreed among the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia when they signed the Manila Accord of 1963.“The inclusion of the North Borneo in the Federation of Malaya is subject to the outcome of the Philippine claim to North Borneo. So, that’s the situation now,” he added.On his remark that Sabah not in Malaysia, the Secretary said he made a “factual” statement.He added Malaysia tried to derail the arbitral award after the Philippines challenged China’s excessive claims in the South China Sea.According to Locsin, he complained to US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo about the “idiot” US tweet which mentioned Sabah in Malaysia.