by Joe Fernandez
Guest Columnist

COMMENTIf the Government in Putrajaya is truly honest with itself, it will confront the fact that there’s very little sympathy in Sabah and Sarawak on the ground for the security forces apparently battling it out in Lahad Datu. It’s 50 years too late. They might as well pack up and go home and instead recall the Sabah Border Scouts and Sarawak Rangers.

At the same time, the continuing statements from one Jamalul Kiram III, the Manila press, the Philippines Government and Nur Misuari of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) on Sabah and Sarawak are being viewed in the right perspective.

Local political parties in Sabah and Sarawak are convinced, like the descendants of the heirs of the defunct Sulu Sultanate and Nur Misuari that the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague is the best venue to settle rival claims to the two Borneo nations. Already, the State Reform Party (Star) led by Jeffrey Kitingan, has reportedly included the ICJ option in their draft Manifesto for the forthcoming 13th General Election.

The ICJ is also the best venue to address the fact that Singapore was expelled in 1965 from the Federation of Malaysia by unconstitutional, unlawful and illegal means. It’s an open secret that then Malaysian Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman had the doors of Parliament locked until the MPs agreed to the expulsion of the city state from the Federation.

The general consensus across both sides of the Sulu Sea is that the Sabah/Sarawak issue will not go away unless there’s a final resolution one way or another. In the absence of a final resolution, the security of both Sabah and Sarawak will continue to be compromised and thereby affect investor and consumer confidence.  

Singapore Application would be a continuation of Pulau Batu Putih case

If Singapore is featured as well at the same time that the cases of Sabah and Sarawak are considered, it would amount to a revisitation of the Pulau Batu Putih hearings which saw the island of a few rocks being awarded to the city state.

The Singapore Application could be made by the Government of that island or vide a Class Action Suit commenced by concerned citizens seeking closure on an issue which has bedevilled relations on both sides of the causeway since 1965.

The descendants of the nine heirs of the defunct Sulu Sultanate claim that they have private property rights to Sabah or parts of it. They further claim and/or used to claim that sovereignty over Sabah rests with the Philippines Government. This is a grey area since one Sulu Sultan apparently “transferred” his sultanate’s sovereignty over Sabah to the Manila Government by way of a Power of Attorney which has reportedly since expired.

Jamalul Kiram III claims to be Sultan of Sulu.

Sulu claimants, Nur Misuari don’t have a leg to stand on in Sabah, Sarawak

At last count there were some 60 claimants to the Sulu Sultanship, not all being descendants of the nine heirs of the defunct Sulu Sultanate.

The nine Plaintiffs viz. Dayang Dayang Piandao Kiram, Princess Tarhata Kiram, Princess Sakinur Kiram, Sultan Ismael Kiram, Sultan Punjungan Kiram, Sitti Rada Kiram, Sitti Jahara Kiram, Sitti Mariam Kiram and Mora Napsa were recognised by C. F. Mackasie, Chief Judge of Borneo, on 13 Dec, 1939 in response to Civil Suit No. 169/39.

The Judge ruled that the nine heirs, as the beneficiaries under the will of the late Sultan Jamalul Kiram, who died at Jolo on 7 June 1935, are entitled to collect a total of RM 5,300 per annum from Sabah in perpetuity for having foregone in perpetuity the right to collect tolls along the waterways in eastern Sabah. The reference point was the deed of cession made between the Sultan of Sulu and the predecessors of the British North Borneo Chartered Company on Jan 22, 1878, and under a confirmatory deed dated April 22, 1903.

If the descendants of the nine heirs end up at the ICJ in The Hague, there are no prizes for guessing which way the case will go.

The Sulu claimants don’t have a leg to stand on in Sabah.

Nur Misuari ready to do battle with a battery of lawyers

The Sulu Sultans of old were extorting tolls, virtually a criminal activity, from the terrified traffic along the eastern seaboard of Sabah. The Brunei Sultanate meanwhile denies ever handing any part of Sabah, or the right to collect tolls along the waterways, to Sulu.

The British North Borneo Chartered Company had no right whatsoever to enter into negotiations on behalf of the people of Sabah with anyone.

The entire land area of Sabah, by history, Adat and under Native Customary Rights (NCR), belonged to the Orang Asal (Original People) of the Territory.

The sovereignty of Sabah rests with the people of Sabah. This sovereignty was re-affirmed on 31 Aug, 1963 when the state won independence from Britain which had occupied the state after World War II. Therein the matter lies. The sovereignty of Sabah had never been transferred to Brunei, Sulu, the Philippines, Britain or Malaya, masquerading as Malaysia since 16 Sept, 1963.

Likewise, Sarawak’s independence was re-affirmed on 22 July, 1963 when the British left. Sarawak had been an independent country for over 150 years under its own Rajah until World War II intervened and the Japanese occupied the country. The war over, the British coerced the Rajah to hand over his country to the Colonial Office in London because they had plans to form the Federation of Malaysia with Sarawak as one of the constituent elements. British occupation of Sarawak was illegal and an act of piracy.

Nur Misuari claims that Sarawak had belonged to his family, from the time of his great great grandfather. He claims that he has the services of the best lawyers at his disposal to make his case at The Hague.

Cobbold Commission a scam by British and Malayan Governments

The outcome of any hearing at The Hague will be a forgone conclusion: the Sulu and Nur Misuari petitions will be struck out without even a hearing; the Court will rule that the people of Sabah and Sarawak never agreed to be in Malaysia; and Singapore will hear that its expulsion from Malaysia in 1965 was unconstitutional, unlawful and illegal. The people of Sabah and Sarawak must be given the right to intervene in the Applications at the ICJ which will determine their fate. There’s nothing to prevent the people of Sulu and the southern Philippines from throwing in an Application that the Philippines Government has no business to occupy their traditional Muslim homeland.

The people of Singapore decided in a Yes or Note Vote in 1962 to the idea of independence through merger with Malaya via the Federation of Malaysia. The inclusion of Orang Asal-majority Sabah, Sarawak and Brunei was to facilitate the merger between Chinese-majority Singapore and non-Malay majority Malaya.

Brunei stayed out of Malaysia at the 11th hour after an armed rebellion in the Sultanate against the idea of Sabah, Sarawak and Brunei being in Malaysia.

No Referendum was held in Sabah, Sarawak, Brunei and Malaya on Malaysia. The Kelantan Government even took the matter to Court.

A sampling of community leaders conducted by the Cobbold Commission found that only the Suluk and Bajau community leaders, perhaps sensing some personal benefits for themselves as proxies of Muslim-controlled Kuala Lumpur, agreed with the idea of Malaysia.

Revolution another possibility to finish off Sulu, Nur Misuari, Manila

Orang Asal community leaders wanted a period of independence before looking at the idea of Malaysia again. They asked for further and better particulars on Malaysia to be used as the reference point for a future re-visitation of the Malaysia Concept. They were not provided these further and better particulars.

The Chinese community leaders, keeping the eventual fate of the resources and revenues of the country uppermost in mind, totally rejected the idea of Malaysia. They were not wrong. Putrajaya today carts away all the resources and revenues of Sabah and Sarawak to Malaya and very little of it comes back to the two Borneo.

The Cobbold Commission disingenuously declared that two third of the people in Sabah i.e. Suluk/Bajau + Orang Asal supported Malaysia. The Commission made the same declaration in Sarawak where only the Sarawak Malay community leaders supported the idea of Malaysia for self-serving reasons.

When Singapore was expelled from Malaysia, Sabah and Sarawak – the facilitators of the merger between Singapore and Malaya – were not allowed to exit the Federation. This is a crucial point which will feature at the ICJ.

Security became an afterthought. But as the continuing influx of illegal immigrants into Sabah and Sarawak, and the Lahad Datu intrusion, has proven, there has been no security for both Borneo nations in Malaysia. ESSCOM (Eastern Sabah Security Command) and ESSZONE (Eastern Sabah Safety Zone) comes too little too late, after 50 years.

In the unlikely event that the ICJ rules in favour of the heirs of the defunct Sulu Sultanate and Nur Misuari, it would be the sacred duty of Sabahans and Sarawakians to launch a Revolution and decapitate all the claimants to their countries from the Philippines.

This would bury the issue once and for all and shut up the Manila press and the Philippines Government.

Singapore’s re-admission to Malaysia, if it materialises, would not persuade Sabah and Sarawak to join the Federation as well. The people would want Malaya even quicker out Sabah and Sarawak. It would be the end of a long drawn out nightmare.

 

Joe Fernandez is a graduate mature student of law and an educationist, among others, who loves to write especially Submissions for Clients wishing to Act in Person. He feels compelled, as a semi-retired journalist, to put pen to paper — or rather the fingers to the computer keyboard — whenever something doesn’t quite jell with his weltanschauung (worldview). He shuttles between points in the Golden Heart of Borneo formed by the Sabah west coast, Labuan, Brunei, northern Sarawak and the watershed region in Borneo where three nations meet.

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Comments
  1. Joe Fernandez says:

    soboi whatever,

    Having a law degree has nothing to do with politicization of issues.

    pulithe pudhuku,

    Mine is like an opening statement in Court to programme the mind of the Judge who comes to Court with a blank mind. Even so it has sufficient details and sources. The Judge always wants to know the story. That includes who you are, your locus standi, why are you in Court, and what do you want from the Court.

    The rest will be in the submission of documents, rebuttals, citations etc etc

    Parties end up in Court because of issues in conflict. It’s the work of the parties concerned to address the issues in conflict, agree where they can agree and beg to disagree elsewhere. The parties concerned will have to work with the Court to resolve the issues in conflict. Generally, the more issues there are in conflict, the more difficult for one side to win and the easier for the other party to win by default.

    Like

  2. soboi says:

    Its best you keep quiet until you have finished LAW. Stop writting anything related to LAW until you have the kulitfication as you put it, till then stop pretending you are god’s gift to journalism.

    Like

  3. Lord Jim says:

    Why the ICJ?

    Fernz, the court of your “government” has already said the Sultan has “no case”, we would assume you’ve read all the papers – which would still prove nothing, the amateur “lawyers” and lawyer-wannabes always assume a piece of paper, a “contract”, a “bill of sale” etc means “everything”.

    It is always up to the skill of a good lawyer to argue otherwise, even in the absence of “evidence”

    Still, where is the premise upon which your frothing at the mouth depend on, I mean, cite a paper or two from your research if is not just “G*d” voices you hear in your head again. Or Jesus building up all that glut for wine he’s overproducing, and you in a great hurry to drink.

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  4. syd says:

    the sultan of Kiram has just instilled some independent streak into the subs and wackies.
    They may as well form an alliance with Brunei and get tax free income and car imports, free medical and education and kick the ketuanan buggers back to where they came from.
    The two ex-british territories in the malay archipelago that eventually did not become part of Malaysia are now many times more prosperous. Why is that? Is it because of the depreciation of the ringgit? Or maybe there is a huge outflow of funds that caused the depreciation? Who knows. But one thing is for sure. For some funny reason, our exchange rate with Thailand have been stable since the 70’s.

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  5. promotheus says:

    Truly, the sovereignty of Sabah rests with the people of Sabah. Neither Malaysia nor Philippines can claim ‘ownership’.
    Sabah is a partner to the Federation of Malaysia but is not a State of Malaysia. This is very clearly demonstrated by the separate Constitution of the State of Sabah; unlike Peninsular Malaysia where the Federal Constitution covers all peninsular states.
    Sabah can at anytime decide if they still want to be a part of Federal Malaysia by passing a law by their State Government annulling that partnership.
    The people of Sabah can hold a referendum to decide for themselves if they wish to be self-governing. The Falkland Islanders held such a referendum for themselves.
    On a different topic, there was nothing illegal about the process of expelling Singapore from the Federation of Malaysia. Locking Parliament’s doors until consensus had been reached did not preclude dissention.
    In any case, Singapore wishing to rejoin Malaysia is a no-brainer.

    Like

  6. Diplomat says:

    This is completely absurd. If someone comes to claim your house which you have worked hard to purchase and has belonged to you for the last 50 years with clear record of ownership, do you even entertain that person and give him legitimacy by referring to a third party who has no knowledge of the past history and situation? What do you think will happen? Malaysia belongs to Malaysians – and not to be shared with anyone who just comes along and make some ancestral claim. The country needs a strong leadership clear on the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Malaysia – not part time arm chair pundits confusing the issue with 2nd hand hearsay of who Sabah and Sarawak used to belong to. The only other recourse is referendum on self determination by those who were born and have resided there for at least the past 21 years or more (i.e. who are adult, were born there and are living there). Recent arrivals are obviously not eligible.

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