Unsubstantiated Filipino Sabah claim
Posted in the China Forum
#1 Mar 20, 2013
Independent National Newspaper of East Malaysia
Published on: Saturday, March 02, 2013
Why the whole Sulu claim is dubious
By: Anak Borneo
IN the wake of the Lahad Datu stand off, there are a few issues that need to be addressed especially in the context of the Sabah claim by the Suluks.
The conventional wisdom is the Sulu Sultanate had some kind of right to Sabah, at least in the eastern part of the state.
This is because in 1878, the then ruler of Sulu, Sultan Jamallul Alam signed an agreement with Baron de Overbeck and Alfred Dent to 'cede' Sabah in perpetuity in return for annual payment according to the British/Malaysian version; and to 'lease' Sabah according to the Suluk/Filipino version, depending which version of the documents one refers to.
In 1881, the British Chartered Company took over the arrangement from the two gentlemen, and later passed it on to the British Crown when Sabah was made a colony in 1946. With the formation of Malaysia in 1963, we continue with the payment of the monies to the Suluks.
Nothing was heard about this for many years until the Macaskie judgement in 1939 when he heard a case over which Suluk heirs had the right to the annual 'cession' monies after the death of the Sultan.
It is worthwhile noting that Macaskie who was the judge of North Borneo at the time had stated that "The deed of Cession was a complete and irrevocable grant of territory and the right reserved was only the right to an annual payment, a right which is in nature of movable property".
In 1962 the Philippines, through President Macapagal, who objected to the formation of Malaysia first raised the Sabah claim officially.
Before that the issue was seen as a private matter.
Macapagal's family had their roots in Sulu before moving to Pampanga, Luzon. With his Suluk Datu background, he would have been quite well versed with this so-called claim.
His daughter, President Gloria Arroyo, on a visit to Brunei, acknowledged her Suluk and Brunei connections openly. While the issue is indeed complex, many Sabahans are of the view that the claim has no leg to stand on, and the Suluks are nothing but a bunch of troublemakers who have no respect for the rule of law. Of course the Suluks will not shift from their position of claiming Sabah as their ancestral homeland, come what may.
With these diametrically opposing views, the claim will always be an albatross around our respective necks until everybody is on the same page.
To the Sabahans their confidence in dismissing the claim stems from the fact that all along the international world has recognised Sabah as being an integral part of Malaysia.
The recent decision made by the International Court Of Justice (ICJ) declaring the islands of Sipadan and Ligitan belonging to Malaysian is another morale booster.
It is not conceivable that mainland Sabah, which is further away from the islands can legally belong to another contesting party in any shape of form.
Also, the most pertinent point here is that Sabahans on the whole feel that they are true blue Malaysians and not Filipinos.
Now, what is missing in the current conversations about the claim is that not many people are asking if Brunei actually gave Sabah away as claimed by the Suluks. Since there are not too many questions, there are not too many answers either.
#2 Mar 20, 2013
Most history books and western scholars tell you that the Suluks obtained Sabah from Brunei in 1704 for helping a Sultan in quelling an internal rebellion. All of us tend to go along with that as we do not know any better.
It must be remembered that Brunei was an influential regional player before the coming of the Europeans. Under Sultan Bolkiah who ruled from 1485 to 1524, Brunei's influence just about covered the whole of Borneo including Banjarmasin in the south, and Sambas in the east.
Its influence also extended to most of what is now the Philippines covering the Sulu islands, Mindanao, Visayas, Palawan and Saludang (Luzon).
If the Suluks had any kind of influence in Borneo, it was because of its position as the vassal state of Brunei and also because of its geography.
The Brunei's sway in the Philippines was such that when the Spanish first attacked Manila, the then ruler there was called Rajah Sulayman, believed to be of Brunei lineage. There is a boulevard named after him in present day Manila.
Many have also argued that the Filipino national hero, Jose Rizal, too had Brunei connections through the seventh Sultan of Brunei called Saiful Rizal (1533-1581). Rizal, after all, is a Malay name.
So, the one million dollar question remains. Did Brunei actually give Sabah away to the Suluks?
According to Brunei sources, they never did. The empire, as we can see, was big. With the demise of Sultan Bolkiah, it started to disintegrate.
Civil wars, amongst the various factions were common.
And, in many instances outside parties were called to help.
When Sultan Saiful Rizal had problems with Pengiran Seri Ratna and Pengiran Seri Lela, the Spanish from the Philippines were invited to help one of the factions, which led to the invasion of Brunei in 1578.
Due to cholera outbreak, they abandoned their mission.
However, one of the Sultan's daughters married a Christian Tagalog and went back to Manila with him.
The longest civil war fought was referred to as the Pulau Chermin War.
This lasted for 12 years from 1661 to 1673. The aftermath of this brought about the so-called giving away of Sabah to the Suluks.
Even though there were little facts to back this up.
The main actors of the Pulau Chermin war were Sultan Muhyuddin and Sultan Mubin. As the leader of the weaker forces, Sultan Mubin had to run away to Kinarut, Sabah to fight another day. Sultan Muhyuddin went after him there, but, had retreat because of logistics problems.
Not deterred, Sultan Muhyuddin contacted his Suluk relatives to help him finish the job, promising Sabah to them. The whole basis of Sabah claim actually hinges on this episode whether Brunei actually transferred the ownership to the Suluks after the war. In terms of documentation, it is next to impossible to trace to prove that this took place, unless Brunei or Sulu has got them hidden somewhere. There must also have been a big ceremony to mark the occasion, once again, there was no record of this in the Brunei annals.
#3 Mar 20, 2013
One can argue that in the absence of solid evidence, whatever we say is nothing but a conjecture. Anybody can come up with their own versions of what happened as they see fit. But, the puzzle still remains unsolved.
Even the Brunei sources couldn't agree with what actually happened.
One school of thought said the Suluks help never arrived.
But, another version said the Suluks did help and they were victorious and Sabah was given away as promised. However, it was taken back by Brunei because they were not happy with them.
Thus, from the Brunei perspective, Sabah was safe and secured and still under them during this period. The giving of Sabah to the Suluks was never considered as a fait accompli. One can also argue that as Brunei was imploding the interested parties saw it fit to stake their claims.
Stories could have been concocted to negate Brunei ownership as there was little in terms of authority to contradict the lies.
Another question that needs to be asked is if Sabah was given away, did it cover the whole state of Sabah as we know now?
What's clear from the Brunei sources is that the extent of the territory is not clear at all. Once again, we would never know, would we?
In view of the above, it is best for the Suluks to move on, as everything about their claim is dubious and standing on shaky grounds.
People who live in the past, will never have much of a future.
Personally, I tend to believe the Brunei version more than the Suluks', for the simple reason that the history of Borneo is the history of the Sultanate of Brunei.
The truth of the matter was that Suluks were and have only been fringe players in Borneo and dare I say even in their own country, the Philippines!
#6 Apr 3, 2013
Pinoys can produce absolutely no documented evidence to support their claim over Sabah.
Nothing they repeatedly mention can be considered admissible evidence in court though they say they will sue Malaysia at the International Court.
The Philippines behaves like a scoundrel.
“I get paid 50 cents per post!”
Since: Mar 13
#7 Apr 3, 2013
Yes you are right!
Hooray to all WU MAOS!
#8 Apr 4, 2013
wu mao is a flip nickle gang member, but not a chinaman. he does not have the gut to show his location either. he was on an all-out assault last night to smear the chinamen further.
as far as evidence for sabah is concerned, no one should expect anything from the flips.
they have nothing, except thick skin. Although malaysia has inherited the original agreement from the Brits and that means Malaysia are stronger in evidence, flips won't shut up. they will sue Malaysia without producing admissible evidence.
Malaysia will be in Big Big trouble.
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