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Opposition Politician&#39;s Promise Of Land Triggered <b>Lahad Datu</b> <b>...</b>

Posted: 14 Feb 2013 07:35 PM PST

This is according to a news report by Reuters which you will see shortly. I have been checking various news reports from the Phillipines, our own Press and other sources about this intrusion into Lahad Datu. There are many different reports.
First of all the number of  Filipinos who have landed is not just 100 'armed men' but a larger group of about 1000 people including women. 
Many are traders and travellers to Lahad Datu. They are not strangers as they have relatives in the kampongs in the area for a long time, going back from before Malaysia came into being. 
They did not land in just one place or all at the same time. They have been landing over a few days around  that area - Cenderawasih, Kampung Perpaduan, Tambisan, Kampong Tanduo. The Felda scheme called Felda Sahabat is spread out over this area. The Filipinos have essentially landed inside the Felda Sahabat land development  area. They were promised land lots - possibly within the Felda Sahabat area.
The 'armed men' may be about 80 to 100 but that is only the armed men. They are escorting about 1000 people from the southern Phillipines (up to Zamboanga City) who went to Lahad Datu after they were promised land by the Sultan of Sulu and his family members. 
There was a meeting about a month and a half ago in Zamboanga City where the Sultan of Sulu Jamalul Kiram III issued an order to his followers to go to Lahad Datu.  "the decision was part of a royal decree issued by Sultan Jamalul Kiram III in Zamboanga City a month and a half ago."  Do read on.
The instrcution by Sultan Jamalul Kiram III of Sulu was preceded by some Opposition politician inside Sabah making promises of land for these settlers. This is why I believe they have landed around the area of the Felda plantation at Felda Sahabat in Lahad Datu.
First here is that Reuters report. You can click on the link to read the full report.
1.  Versions differ in Malaysia, Philippines border standoff  (Reuters)
  • A senior Philippine military official ..dismissed Malaysian account saying they were unarmed Filipinos who had been promised land in Sabah.
  • a meeting over land claim had attracted a large crowd and drawn the attention of Malaysian authorities.
  • "We know that these people arrived there five days ago and most of them are from nearby islands," said the official
  • "..were already residents in Sabah for a long time and they normally cross the border without any problem."
  • the men were followers of the heirs of the Sultan of Sulu - who had been invited to Sabah by a Malaysian opposition politician to discuss land issues.
  • Malaysia pays a token amount to the Sultanate each year for the "rental" of Sabah state - an arrangement that stretches back to British colonial times.
  • ..Muslim immigrants from Philippines has surged in recent decades, stirring tension with  Christian in Sabah.
I didnt know that Malaysia paid RM5300 a year (77,000 Pesos) to the Sultan of Sulu to "rent" Sabah?   Anyway the heir of the Sultan of Sulu is among the 1000 people in Lahad Datu right now. His name is  Radjah Mudah Ajbimuddin Kiram and you can read about him here :
http://globalnation.inquirer.net/64461/sulu-group-security-arrested-in -sabah
  • At 1:37 a.m. on Tuesday, about 1,000 people, mostly armed men and a handful of women, boarded speedboats on Simunul Island in Tawi-Tawi and left for Lahad Datu
  • For the group led by Radjah Mudah Ajbimuddin Kiram, there was nothing unusual about the trip, as they were just going home.
  • "We want to live in our place. Sabah is our territory, as it is part of the ancestral domain of the Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo," Radjah Mudah said.
  • Radjah Mudah is one of the three leaders of the Kiram family, heirs of the Sultanate of Sulu that owns Sabah.
  • Malaysian security forces blocked their landing and demanded they surrender their weapons.  (Our boys were already there to block the landing ?? - the IGP did not say anything about this. Haiyya Tan Sri, dalam Internet kita boleh baca semua berita lah). 
  • "They surrounded us—me and my group of civilians and royal security forces—and, of course, they were armed," Radjah Mudah told the Inquirer by phone Thursday.
  • "But there was no fighting. We talked. We have an open line to a high Malaysian official and he talked to us, referring to me as 'Your Excellency, Your Royal Highness,'" Radjah Mudah said.
  • But he described the situation as a "standstill" and an "open negotiation status." He said he was surrounded by troops from his Royal Security Forces of the Sultanate of Sulu.
  • The Malaysian government was not so sure what the group of Radjah Mudah was.
  • ranking intelligence official from the Armed Forces of the Philippines said the "foreigners" arrested in Sabah were not militants or terrorists from the Philippines but descendants of the Sultan of Sulu who had been monitored to have sailed for Sabah last week.
  • The military intelligence official said the "foreigners" were neither armed nor members of the Abu Sayyaf as reported by Malaysian media.
  • official said, group was composed of people who regularly traveled to Sabah "to trade."
  • intelligence reports that the group of descendants of the Sultan of Sulu had a meeting recently and decided to "continue their family's claim to Sabah."
  • "Apparently, in the meeting, the followers or descendants were told that those who would join the journey to Sabah would be given a portion of land. That is why there was a large group that went there," the official said.
  • The official said the group left for Sabah last week.
  • Radjah Mudah told the Inquirer that his group left for Sabah a day before President Aquino visited the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) stronghold in Sultan Kudarat.
  • Sabah is ours
  • Asked if the departure for Sabah had anything to do with the peace talks between the government and the MILF, Radjah Mudah said: "Yes. They talk to everybody except to the group that they should really talk with for lasting peace in Mindanao."
  • Asked if his group was seeking sanctuary in Malaysia, Radjah Mudah said no. Sabah, he said, belongs to the Sultanate of Sulu and Malaysia is simply leasing it at 5,300 Malaysian ringgit, or P77,000, a year.
  • Abraham Julpa Idjirani, secretary general and national spokesperson of the Sultanate of Sulu, said the decision was part of a royal decree issued by Sultan Jamalul Kiram III in Zamboanga City a month and a half ago.
  • Idjirani said the sultanate had a 100,000-strong security force. The 15,000-strong Royal Security Force was established in 1999, he said.
  • He said the administration of former President Joseph Estrada recognized the Royal Security Force.
  • The administration of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo recognized the Royal Security Force as partners in peace and development, he said.
3. And here is the New York Times :
  • MANILA - The police in Malaysia were in a standoff late Thursday with at least 80 militiamen from the Philippines who were seeking to stay by right of historic claims on the island of Borneo, the police said.
  • The men, who arrived by boat on Tuesday in Sabah State, on the Malaysian side of Borneo, said they were descendants of the leaders of the Sultanate of Sulu, an area ruled from the southern Philippines that in the 18th century included sections of the island. 
My comments :  There are a few things going on in Sabah and Southern Mindanao right now that may have triggered this 'intrusion" - (it is such a non-intrusive word to describe a situation like this).
Firstly the Peace Agreement that was signed recently between the Bangsamoro and the Phillipine Government may not have satisfied all the parties. The Sultan of Sulu feels that he has been left out of the negotiations by the other Bangsamoro leaders as well as the Phillipine Government.  However there are obviously thousands of people in that region who still consider themselves subjects of the Sultan of Sulu. Otherwise 1000 of them or a 100 of them will not simply jump into boats and venture to Sabah. 
Secondly the Royal Commission of Inquiry that is now going on in Sabah about the Muslim immigrants may have spooked the people of Tawi-Tawi, Mindanao, Simunul, Jolo etc who have been slipping in and out of Sabah and Mindanao without passports for centuries. If the RCI comes out with drastic restrictions against all this people movement, it will definitely affect the lifestyles of these maritime people who sail around all corners of the Sulu Sea.
Hence I think this "intrusion" into Sabah is just a statement that they are making - "We were here first. Our Sultan has claims to the whole of Sabah."  I think these folks are also very upset when they see  Chinese people (for example) living as citizens in Sabah  whereas they are not allowed to set foot on the shores.
Who was that Opposition politician who promised them the land lots? That meeting in Zamboanga City more than 1 1/2 months ago must have been preceded by something and someone. Otherwise the Sultan of Sulu will not just make promises out of the blue telling his people to go and stake their claim over land lots in Felda Sahabat.  
There are 11 Malay Rulers in this region. Nine in Malaysia, one in Brunei and one more in Sulu.

1000 people or even 100 people need food, water, a place to sleep and washing facilities. If these folks have got this provided for them in Lahad Datu, then they are home.  It may take more to dislodge them. Cash usually helps.  There are many Sabah politicians who may be able to help in this area. They know these people well. Some of them are in the Opposition. Some of them are Chinese. One of them has helped before.

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