By Zakaria Abdullah, FGN correspondent
The chairman of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), at a meeting with his supporters and friends at Rizal Memorial College Park in Davao City , Muslim Mindanao, on May 24, minced no words on his plan to re-claim Sabah from what he termed as “illegal occupation” by Malaysia .
An estimated 150,000 people from all walks of life, including Moro freedom fighters and Filipino soldiers, turned up at Davao City ’s RMC Park to hear what the MNLF chairman Nur Misuari has to say.
Foremost amongst his guests was HRH Sultan Fuad Kiram I, Sultan of Sulu and North Borneo , and a number of Datus and other dignitaries of the Sulu Sultanate.
Misuari also endorsed Sultan Fuad Kiram I as the undisputed Sultan of Sulu and Sabah , in whose authority the claim shall be carried out.
The most interesting part of Misuari’s speech was the issue on the State of Sabah which he says is being illegally occupied by Malaysia . Previous claims over Sabah were filed by the Philippine government (GRP) since 1962, in behalf of the Sultanate of Sulu. However, there has been no definite ruling on the issue yet as the GRP cannot substantiate its claim for sovereignty.
This time the Sultanate of Sulu is going to claim Sabah directly, after the GRP failed to make headway for 20 years. As the leading adviser to the Sultan, Misuari has vowed to pursue the claim through the International Court of Justice (ICJ) if need be.
Both Misuari and Sultan Fuad had demanded the return of Sabah by Malaysia . Misuari also warned that if Malaysia refuses to accede to peaceful negotiated settlement, he is prepared even to go to war to “recover Sabah from illegal occupation.”
Misuari, was arrested in Sabah in November 2001 for illegal entry. He had earlier ordered the attack on military camps of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in Jolo and held civilian hostages in Zamboanga City , in an attempt to press for the proper implementation of the 1996 Final Peace Agreement (FPA). The GRP then, as now, was trying to renege on the correct implementation of the FPA.
He was subsequently repatriated to Manila through bilateral arrangements to face charges of rebellion. He was freed from detention, on bail, few weeks ago, without having been formally charged. But being freed on bail, he risks being rearrested anytime with even a slight infringement of the law.
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Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Malaysia furious over renewed Sabah claims
Rumblings from freed rebel Nur Misuari and the regrouping of the Moro National Liberation Front are reportedly serious concerns By Al Jacinto, The Manila Times
Zamboanga City : A senior Malaysian politician, furious over a renewed Philippine claim to Sabah , have called for stricter laws on Filipinos traveling to the oil-rich state. Sabah Progressive Party President Datuk Yong Teck Lee said Malaysia ’s National Security Council (NSC) should closely watch developments in the southern Philippines with the collapse of the Moro peace deal and release of former rebel leader Nur Misuari , Malaysia ’s Star reported.
Lee said the withdrawal last month of the Malaysian truce observers from Mindanao was a clear indication of the failure of the peace process involving the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). “Further worries included the rumblings from freed rebel Nur Misuari over the Philippines ’ claim to Sabah and the regrouping of the Moro National Liberation Front [MNLF],” the Star said.
Misuari, who was ousted as MNLF chairman by Muslimin Sema, MNLF’s secretary-general, wanted the International Court of Justice to settle the Philippine claims on Sabah if Malaysia fails to resolve the issue. Lee said the NSC and the Sabah State Security Committee should act on the problems brought about by the failure of the peace process and Misuari’s revival of the Sabah claims.
“All these warrant the immediate attention of the National Security Council in Putrajaya and the Sabah State Security Committee,” he said. He also urged Kuala Lumpur to suspend the ferry service between Zamboanga and Sandakan .
“ Malaysia can also suspend the Zamboanga-Sandakan ferry service, impose bonds on incoming visitors, require ferry passengers to have return tickets and step up enforcement at all levels of government,” he said. The Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo lays claim to Sabah . The Sultanate of Sulu was a Muslim state that ruled over much of the islands off the Sulu Sea .
It stretches from a part of the island of Mindanao in the east, to North Borneo, now known as Sabah, in the west and south and to Palawan in the north. The Sultanate of Sulu was founded in 1457 and is believed to have existed as a sovereign nation for at least 442 years. The Sultanate of Sulu obtained Sabah from Brunei as a gift for helping put down a rebellion on Borneo Island.The British leased Sabah and transferred control over the territory to Malaysia after the end of the Second World War.
Even after Borneo became part of Malaysia , Kuala Lumpur still pays an annual rent of 5,000 ringgit to the heirs of the Sultan of Sulu Ismail Kiram. Misuari said what Malaysia pays to the Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo is but a pittance. The MNLF, under Misuari, signed a peace deal with Manila in September 1996, ending more than three decades of bloody fighting in Mindanao .
It also accepted a limited autonomy over four Muslim provinces, namely, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, Lanao del Sur and Maguindanao, that were later expanded into five provinces with Basilan as an addition, and now has become six with the inclusion of Shariff Kabunsuan. Misuari later became governor of the Muslim autonomous region, but later accused the government of failing to honor the peace agreement, and his forces attacked major military bases and held hostage civilians in Sulu province and Zamboanga City in November 2001.
He fled to Sabah, his former refuge, but was arrested by Malaysian authorities and sent back to Manila where he is now facing rebellion charges and currently out on bail. Sema said the issue on Sabah has been a long irritant between the Philippines and Malaysia , and he appealed to Misuari not to use this to stir restlessness among local Muslims in Mindanao .
“This has been a very old issue and we don’t want to strain our good relations with Malaysia at the expense of everybody. The Philippines has in the past approached this old issue with diplomacy and respect to maintain good bilateral relations with Malaysia and we want this to continue,” Sema told The Manila Times.