Although Malaysia and The Philippines are members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations they have a strange relationship. It is smooth most of the time outwardly, and both friendly to each other on the surface, but beneath that, there are major issues simmering in the back burner since 1963 the formation of Malaysia, and, these issues  can lead to severe cracks to the relationship if not address properly in the near future.

“The Sabah Claim.”

The cause for this Philippine territorial claim of  Sabah has become a “permanent toothache” to both KL and Manila.  This territorial claim has made  Sabah a haven for 1 million illegal immigrants from the southern Philippines which make up nearly 1/3 of the Sabah population of 3.3 million and this is very dangerous and a contentious issue. Some of these illegals are citizens now and having Malaysian Identity cards and they vote.

Geographically speaking, Sabah is in fact closer to the Philippines than peninsular Malaysia which is separated from the state by 1,000 km of  South China Sea. So  Sabah is nearer to Manila than Kuala Lumpur.

The Philippines claim that North Borneo then, now Sabah once belonged to the sultan of  Sulu, a province of the southern Philippines.  According to them, The Sultan of Sulu then rented the state to an American-German company which later transferred its sovereignty to the British in the late 19th century.

When Sabah joined the Federation of Malaysia on Sept. 16, 1963, the Philippines started to officially press for the return of the state to the heirs of the sultan who were its citizens. Manila still continued to pursue its claim to Sabah and the Philippines’ Senate never relinquished or dropped the claim till todate.

The attitude between both Malaysia and The Philippine’s is just “wait and see.”Don’t know what they are both waiting to see, but as far as I know, Sabah issue is a “permanent toothache” for both KL and Manila, but, both pretend as though all is good and honky dory and lets play it mute.

Sabah has a long and jagged coastline, and the waters separating it from the southern Philippine island of Mindanao, are dotted with numerous uninhabited islands. These geographical features of Sabah has provided sanctuary to the huge numbers of illegal Filipinos and Abu Sayyaf terrorist. When the Malaysian authorities try to repatriate them permanently, instead of returning to Mindanao, many of those sent back in boats headed for the islands and camped there. From there, they returned to Sabah within the next few days. This is rampant in the east coast of  Sabah.

 Malaysia wants a Philippine consulate to be opened in Kota Kinabalu to facilitate its measures in dealing with the problem of the illegal Filipino immigrants in the state. But Manila feels that such a move would be a tacit acknowledgment that Sabah is an integral component of Malaysia, signaling that it is dropping its 37-year-old territorial claim to Sabah. The last thing the Philippines wants at this stage.

So, is there ever going to be a Sabah solution between KL and Manila without engaging the Sabahans who are the real stakeholders? I doubt it!

  1. Bei Soo Lang says:

    Sabah welcome a million people without any passport,
    Sabah reject a Human Right lawyer with a valid Malaysian passport,
    Justice has died i Sabah,
    Welcome a PKR Sabah next election,
    Haris Ibrahim has been barred from entering the state and was sent back to KL on the next available flight.

    (Free Malaysia Today) – Malaysian Civil Liberties Movement (MCLM) president Haris Ibrahim has been barred from entering Sabah and was sent back to Kuala Lumpur on the next available flight.

    Contacted by FMT prior to his departure, the lawyer said he had landed at the Kota Kinabalu airport at about 3.15pm.

    “I have just been told that ‘atas arahan atasan’ (orders from a higher authority), I have been denied entry. I am still at the immigration awaiting details,” he said.

    He later added that the formal notice stated that he was detained under Section 65 (1) of the Immigration Act 1959/1963 and that he had been denied entry on the direction of state authority.

    Asked if he was there for MCLM-related activities, Haris said that the movement had some work with political parties and NGOs in Sabah.

    “I presume the order (to prevent entry to Sabah) is related (to the political activities in Sabah),” he added.

    Haris, who was previously attached to election watchdog Bersih 2.0, was also denied entry into Sarawak twice — in April during the state election and September this year.

    It is believed that he was stopped from entering Sarawak under the similar law.

    Under the Malaysia Agreement, Sarawak and Sabah have the power to bar anyone from entering the states, including persons from Peninsular Malaysia.


  2. jamal says:

    ICj has no authority in this matter why doesn’t the phillippines accept the will of the people of sabah who are loya to malaysia and want no part of phillippines so no ICJ interference this matter has been resolved I believe and manila is simply greedy I believe it is in the best interests of sulu to become apart of malaysia so a reverse claim is best how about that mn? make sulu a territory of malaysia I bet the ICJ you love would accept that


  3. mn says:

    This issue should be resolved thru the International Court of Justice (ICJ).
    The problem is, Malaysia always blocks Philippines’ request for this dispute be brought up to ICJ.

    Maybe, they’re afraid to lose.


  4. Joshua Kong says:

    Tell me honestly, what is really wrong with the Filipinos?

    Philitppines is as resource rich as Sabah and why they have to come over to Sabah?

    The wars are just excuses like Jabidah Massacre in 1968.. and the people in gangsterisim and lawless culture would go on fighting for nothing and you mean Sabah has to give them refuge forever…

    They -the Manila has to pay Sabahans indemnity for crimes committed in Sabah against the local and worth anything from RM40 billions and more…

    Stop the troubles to mitigate the damages anymore…


  5. […] Selvarajasomiah’s Weblog my twisted thoughts « When Will Philippines Drop The Sabah Claim? […]


  6. zxc says:

    Some of these illegals are citizens now and having Malaysian Identity cards and they vote.

    1) illegals are citizens… weak immigration control
    2)having Malaysian Identity Card… weak issueing IC control
    3) they vote… weak election judge..


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