Archive for the ‘Sultan of Sulu’ Category



KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah Security Working Committee (JKKN) has decided to reopen the Eastern Sabah Security Zone (ESSZone) for commercial activities effective Feb 1.

Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman said the JKKN meeting, which he chaired today, also agreed to allow the Customs, Immigration, Quarantine and Security (CIQS) Complex in Kudat to resume operations for the route to Palawan, Southern Philippines on the same date.

“However, all commercial activities, namely transshipment and normal trade must adhere to the Transshipment Activity Improvement Fixed Operating Regulations issued by the Sabah JKKN.

“On the other hand, Kudat CIQS will operate by observing its standard operating procedures as guidelines for all agencies and relevant parties,” he said in a statement here today.

Musa also said all trade activities involving Indonesian sea products by the fishermen or the coalition of Tawau Fishermen’s Association was now status quo but the landings of the products must be done at jetties or legal locations as coordinated by the Fisheries Department.

“On the ban of pump boats, JKKN decided that the ruling would continue to take effect on status quo which means the use and its ownership are only allowed for Malaysian citizens. Stern action will be taken against non-citizens,” he added. — Bernama

 

(The Eastern Sabah Security Zone (ESSZONE) is a security zone in the Malaysian state of Sabah that was launched by the Malaysian Prime Minister, Najib Razak on 25 March 2013 following the persistent attacks by Abu Sayaff pirates and militants from the southern Philippines that occurred in the eastern part of Sabah especially after the 2013 Lahad Datu standoff.

[1] It includes the districts of Kudat, Kota Marudu, Pitas, Beluran, Sandakan, Kinabatangan, Lahad Datu, Kunak, Semporna and Tawau.

[2] The Eastern Sabah Security Command (ESSCOM) is the main enforcement authority for ESSZONE, chaired by Datuk Seri Musa Aman.)

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Sabah has never recognized or acknowledged any claim by the Philippines or any other quarter on the state, said Chief Minister Musa Aman today.

He said Sabah has never recognised or acknowledged any such claim and will continue to be a part of the Malaysian federation.

“Let me clearly state that Sabah is in Malaysia and has chosen to be and will continue to be a part of this sovereign nation since its formation,” he said in response to Philippines incoming President Rodrigo Duterte’s intention to pursue the Sabah claim.

Musa added that the people of Sabah are enjoying peace, stability and economic prosperity within Malaysia.

“Our allegiance is to the Malaysian flag. The claim is irrelevant,” he added.

Earlier, Duterte was quoted by the Philippine Star as saying that he will pursue the Philippines’ claim on Sabah.

Duterte also said he will recognise the claim of the Sulu sultanate as “what has been the policy will always be the policy of the government, especially those for the interests of the country”.


Let me be the first to have this out there…

Over a year ago, I had the pleasure of meeting three young filmmakers who came fully prepared to document illegal Filipino migrants in Sabah. Travelling constantly from Kota Kinabalu to Lahad Datu, the three used every opportunity they had to find a way to tell a story on Sabah never before brought to the silver screen. They came fully prepared to undertake this difficult and rather sensitive issue, despite having to fund themselves, battle resistance from members of the public and encounter several episodes with the law.

What is most interesting about this project is that they had no predictions that the Sulu incursion that took place in March this year would be such an impact on their film, and despite the danger that entailed, followed their subjects throughout the crisis, a risk they were all willing to take.

Since returning to the states, where film is edited, the trio have kept rather quite, and I must admit that I wondered oftentimes if their film was ever going to happen.

That is until now.

Today I am proud to introduce all of you to the first glimpse of their work through their website and Kickstarter Campaign. The three are still trying to raise a little more funds and I hope those of you who want to see a professional feature film on Sabah and the most recent state of affairs, please fund them through these links. You could very well be part of a very big thing for Sabah and its people.

Help fund their film at:   Di Ambang: Stateless in Sabah
Visit the films website at:   http://diambangfilm.com/


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.


As the hours zero in on the closing of the Sulu standoff and a possibility of some intense immigrant backlash in Lahad Datu and her neighbouring coastal towns, one may wonder what is next for Sabah. Although speculations have indicated that the prolong stand off is due to meek and uncharismatic leadership by the top guns of BN, one could also say that they have been making calculated and planned moves to ensure success and simultaneously lessening the anti- BN war cry among neigh sayers. After all, an early move could result in multiple riots among Suluk immigrants throughout Sabah. As predicted, Sabah Chief Minister Musa Aman, has had his share of publicity amidst the standoff as well. The Suluk Filipinos are after his head as they eye the Chief Minister’s post in a renewed bid and Musa, affectionately known as Moses among his fellow Dusuns, has Foreign Minister and brother, Anifah Aman along for the ride, this time around.

Their major critics, Suluk Filipinos and the Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), allege that Anifah is Musa’s “real nominee”, who is involved in all sorts of shady dealings involving timber and even the recent arrest of Manuel Amalilo aka Mohammad Suffian Syed who scammed 15,000 Filipinos of 12 billion pesos (RM895 million) in a ponzi scheme in Philippines is purportedly engineered by the Aman brothers which is so ridiculous. Those who know Anifah will swear that the Kimanis MP is one shrewd operator too. He’s strictly scrupulous about the way he arranges his public and private life. Having made his money and tons of it before he went into politics, Anifah has since then stayed out of business and professional dealings which would cast aspersions on his character and his integrity in public service. So, the critics would appear to be barking up the wrong tree on Anifah. I mean, why would you kick a dog just because you hate its owner?

Many want to see Anifah destroyed along with Musa to minimize any possibility that the younger brother taking up the challenge of being the Chief Minister if ever the opportunity presents itself. Anifah is getting closer by the day to the Chief Minister’s post as he has since chalked up an enviable record as Foreign Minister. Aside from Anifah, Pairin is the only other leader who will get Musa’s support as his successor. But Pairin has been Chief Minister from 1985 to 1994, and is unlikely to accept his old post even if offered. He is also extremely pleased with Musa’s performance as Chief Minister since he took over the reins of the state government. He works quietly without getting into needless politicking, or like PKR, promising the sun, the moon and the stars in between.

It’s not surprising that PKR has no qualms about walking on the wild side of politics in Sabah. It’s an open secret in the state that Opposition Leader and de facto PKR chief Anwar Ibrahim was among the chief architects responsible for placing illegal immigrants, mainly drawn from Suluk Filipinos, on the electoral rolls. He was then in the BN Government as Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister. Anwar’s shady past in Sabah has caught up with him in the present to haunt his future. That’s why the call is getting louder in Sabah for Anwar to be called in as witness to the ongoing RCI on illegal immigrants in the state. Besides, PKR has even pledged, in an act of political suicide, that illegal immigrants in Sabah would all be given permanent residency (PR) status should the opposition alliance seize the reins of power in the state.

Between the Suluk Filipinos and Anwar’s PKR, they are not too happy that Musa convinced Najib Tun Razak and mobilised UMNO Sabah to pledge support for the RCI. More alarm bells have gone off when Anifah lashed out publicly not so long ago against attempts by the a special unit at the National Registration Department (NRD) in Putrajaya to issue birth certificates and MyKads to 40,000 people in Semporna alone without going through the local Mobile Court system. Anifah doubted that there could be that many people in one district alone without personal Malaysian documents. But the truth is, Semporna is undoubtedly infested with illegal immigrants, especially Suluk from the nearby Sulu Archipelago in the Philippines.

Anifah’s outburst on Semporna, coming on top of his brother’s public support for the RCI, was the last straw for the Suluk Filipinos. They, led by the Godfather, decided that the Aman brothers would have to go sooner rather than later. Their “secret weapon” is to recycle the old Chinaman’s story, of Michael Chia Thien Foh being nabbed with some Singapore $16 million at one time at Hong Kong Airport, and allegedly close to Musa. But the truth to the matter is, Micheal Chia is a bosom buddy to Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz, minister in the Prime Minister Department. So close is Chia that he had even given Nazri’s son a Hummer SUV, as a gift of sorts.

The story, as it now transpires, is that Chia was never caught in the Hong Kong Airport with bag load of foreign currency. Chia’s hotel room in Hong Kong was raided by the Hong Kong authorities, acting on a tip-off which came from an estranged business partner of Chia, now at loggerheads. In that hotel raid, the Hong Kong authorities found in Chia’s room Singapore $ 16 million. So, this whole story about Micheal Chia getting caught in Hong Kong Airport is a whole lot of rubbish. It never happened in the Hong Kong Airport but indeed took place in the hotel room in Hong Kong where Chia was staying.

The Hong Kong case, if any, has been closed but PKR and Musa’s Suluk Filipino political enemies do not want to cease and desist. They are doggedly flogging the Hong Kong in various recycle versions and liberally dishing them around among the alternative media with known links to PKR and Anwar. A new spin from both PKR and the Suluk Filipinos, is that Attorney-General Gani Patail is related to Musa through his wife. Hence, as the spin continues, his reluctance to prosecute the Sabah Chief Minister and his brother “despite the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission (MACC) having concluded its investigations”.

The fact of the matter is that it’s not the AG who immediately decides on the prosecution of Barisan Nasional (BN) leaders suspected of being involved in corruption. The MACC files on such leaders have to be sent to the Prime Minister who in turn will have to return them to the Commission before they are sent to the AG for further action, if any. In Musa and Anifah’s case, even if there’s an MACC file on both of them, it’s unlikely that it has been sent to Prime Minister Mohd Najib Abdul Razak. Indeed, even if such a file exists and it has been sent to the Prime Minister, it’s highly unlikely that he would be so foolish as to send it back to the MACC for onward transmission to the AG.

This is the system first initiated by former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad. The MACC files on Eric Chia of Perwaja Steel and Kasitah Gaddam were under lock and key in Mahathir’s office for years. It was his successor, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi aka Pak Lah, who sent these files back to MACC. The rest is history. Even if there’s a circumstantial case against Musa and Anifah, current PM Najib is unlikely to rock his Fixed Deposit state of Sabah just because some Suluk Filipino got too big for his boots and wants to be Chief Minister. For one, no Suluk Filipino will ever become Chief Minister of Sabah.

The Dusuns in particular — including the Kadazan and Murut – would not allow it. That would be the worst imaginable political scenario for them as it would open the floodgates to further influx of illegal immigrants from the Philippines in particular. Mindful that the Dusuns and Muruts through Joseph Pairin Kitingan and the Parti Bersatu Sabah are solidly behind Musa, the Suluk Filipinos recently tried to sponsor KDM Malaysia as an NGO to further split the non-Muslim Natives as a political force to reckon with in the state. Their efforts came to nothing and the NGO is currently on the verge of being deregistered by the Registrar of Societies (ROS).

For another, the Suluk Sabahans and other local Muslims – Dusun, Bajau, Barunai, Irranun, among others – are dead set against a Suluk Filipino taking the reins of the state government. The stand was made clear by the Suluk Sabahans who have re-grouped under the old United Sabah National Organisation (Usno) in a protest against the disproportionate political role being played in Umno by the Suluk Muslims. The Suluk Filipinos running amok in Sabah, like other illegal immigrants, should thank their lucky stars that they have not so far been detained and deported to the Philippines and banned forever from entering the state. If they think that they can cover up their tracks and buy political protection by seizing the Chief Minister’s post, they are sadly mistaken. Already, local Muslims feel increasingly marginalized and disenfranchised by the continuing influx of the illegal immigrants who go on to enter the electoral rolls and monopolize opportunities which would have otherwise gone to them.

The Lahad Datu armed intrusion and the Malaysian armed forces’ operations against the Filipino Suluk intruders claiming Sabah belongs to Philippines is a real eye opener. We have lost 8 of our security personals so far in this skirmish since the events began unfolding in Lahad Datu. For decades, we have allowed the influx of illegal immigrants and granted citizenships to Filipino immigrants under Project IC. The security threats posed by the large presence of illegals in Sabah has been highlighted by Sabahans for decades but this has fallen on deaf ears in Putrajaya. News of Azzimuddie Kiram’s brother who resides in Sabah, being placed on the police’s wanted list shows the complexities of the situation. Many of the Suluks and Moros, numbering 500,000 in Sabah, are ardent followers of the Sulu sultanate. Will they still support BN?

Although still too early to say who Sabah will decide to be their next leader, how they will go about it and the reasons behind it is no mystery. It has to be a “Sabah for Sabahan” stand for now, and having outsiders, local or otherwise, just may not make the cut. The tic-tac-toe of Sabah’s next Man will eventually be dealt with in good time. And who knows, perhaps other media oulets like Reuters, Al-Jazeera and Bernama just may have their own take on the socio-political landscape of Sabah, allowing for newer and more different ideas and even evidences to be discussed and showcased.

But for now, ladies and gentlemen, back to the stand off.


by Farish A Noor
http://www.rappler.com/thought-leaders/23020-between-a-fluid-region-and-a-hard-state

Allow me to begin by stating categorically that I am a committed Southeast Asian-ist and a committed ASEAN-ist.

In my work as a lecturer I have constantly reminded my students of the constructed nature of Southeast Asia today, the relative newness of our political borders, and the newness of our nation-states. I have also emphasized the shared overlapping histories of the many diasporas that populate this complex and sometimes confounding archipelago of ours.

I long for the day when the people of Southeast Asia can see themselves as ASEAN citizens, but despite the fact that the ASEAN Community is almost upon us (by 2015), many of us in the region are still driven by primordial attachments to place, identity, language and culture.

It can be summed up thus: We Southeast Asians are caught between a fluid region and a hard state.

No matter how hard some of the hyper-nationalists among us may try, they cannot deny the fact that we share a common, interconnected history/histories. These histories often overlap, make contesting demands and claims, and contradict each other. But that is the nature of history as a discourse, for it is a narrative without a full-stop and is a discursive terrain that has to be looked at from a multiplicity of angles.

There can never be a final history to any area or subject, for as soon as we put the pen down, time marches on and we are forced to return and revise our settled assumptions.

For those who seek a happy panacea to their existential angst, history is not the remedy because every single historical claim can and will be contested by another.

That makes history a soft and unstable foundation for any political-economic claim, but thankfully it is also the reason why historians like me won’t be unemployed any time soon.

So much for fluidity and shifting historical parameters. Now comes the hard part: We Southeast Asians also happen to be living in the present-day postcolonial world of ASEAN, made up of nation-states that do what nation-states do: Compartmentalize, categorize, delimit and demarcate, fix boundaries and police them.

I have to state here that I am not a big fan of the postcolonial nation-state for the simple reason that in my opinion the post-colonial nation-state is simply the inheritor of the proclivities, bias, myopia and solipsism of the colonial state of the past.

Look around us in Southeast Asia today and what do we see, but postcolonial nation-states that continue to police their people, their borders, their identities and the very epistemology and vocabulary that frames our understanding of ourselves and the Other. Categories like “citizen” and “foreigner” are modern labels that we, Southeast Asians, have inherited from our colonial past along with dubious concepts like racial difference.

Contradiction

What, then, are we today? It would appear to me at least that we Southeast Asians are a hybrid, mongrel lot of communities and peoples with a complicated past.

On the one hand we still retain the residual traces of our primordial roots to land and sea that tell us that this region is our shared home. But we also happen to be modern citizen-subjects living under the modern regime of the racial census, the identity card, the passport and the national flag.

We cannot escape this contradiction because this is what our common history has bequeathed us today. We are modern Southeast Asian citizen-subjects who live in a region with a complex history that predates modernity, colonialism and the nation-state, and we cannot escape our past any more than we can escape our present.

But this contradiction is now manifest in what is happening in the East Malaysian state of Sabah. In the midst of the chest-thumping, saber-rattling jingoism and hyper-nationalism we see rising in both Philippines and Malaysia today, we ought to take a step back and look at ourselves honestly in the face.

It seems that what is confronting us now is a clash between the modern state, driven as it is by its modernist logic of governmentality; and the primordial attachment of some people to land and space that exceeds the confines of temporality and space.

What has happened is that a group of non-state actors, namely those who claim to be the descendants of the Sultan of Sulu, have unilaterally and without the consent of the government of the Philippines, entered into the territory of another state – Malaysia – bearing arms and demanding their right to settle there.

Both the Malaysian and Philippine state are at a loss as to what to do, for both states are now forced to deal with a non-state actor that does not play by the rules of the modern state.

Such a situation can be extended hypothetically in a million directions: What if a bunch of Malaysian citizens unilaterally entered Singapore and claimed it on the grounds that it was formerly a part of the Malay kingdom of Johor? What if a bunch of Thais entered northern Malaysia and claimed the state of Kelantan on the grounds that it was formerly part of the Siamese kingdom?

The possibilities are endless, and dizzying to boot- but the problem would remain the same: How should a state or states deal with non-state actors?

Reviewing history

Two historical details ought to be brought into play at this point:

The first is that the history of Sabah itself ought to be foregrounded at this stage, as Philippine and Malaysian nationalists have failed to ask what do the people of Sabah think about this.

Let us note that Sabah was never an empty space that was passed on from one power to another. In the past, Sabah came under the domination of the Kingdom of Brunei, and it was Brunei that then gifted parts of Sabah to the Kingdom of Sulu, and it was both the kingdoms of Brunei and Sulu that then passed it on to the British North Borneo Company. But Sabah has its own past, its own history and its own people – who seem to have been left out of the discussion altogether.

The indigenous people of Sabah happen to be the Kadazandusuns and the Muruts, who consist of the Bonggis (Banggi island, Kudat), the Idaan/Tindals (Tempasuk, Kota Belud), the Dumpaas Kadazans (Orang Sungai, Kinabatangan), the Bagahaks (Orang Sungai, also Kinabatangan), the Tombinuo and Buludupis Kadazans (Orang Sungai, also Kinabatangan), the Kimaragang Kadazans (Tandek and Kota Marudu), the Liwans (Ranau and Tambunan), the Tangaah Kadazans (Panampat and Papar), the Rungus (Matunggong and Kudat), the Tatanah Kadazans (Kuala Penyu), the Lotuds (Tuaran), the Bisayas (Beaufort), the Tidongs (Tawau) and the Kedayans (Sipitang). Then there are the Muruts who consist of the Nabais, Piluans, Bokans, Taguls, Timoguns, Lundayehs, Tangaras, Semambus, Kolors and Melikops.

These are the indigenous communities of Sabah, and if anyone has a right to the land of Sabah it ought to be them. Nobody denies that Bruneians, Suluks, Ilanuns, Bugis, Malays, Chinese, Indians, Arabs and other communities have resided in Sabah too in the past, but the latter came from other kingdoms and polities, and in the case of the Bruneians and Suluks of Sulu, they also happened to be outsiders who imposed their dominance over the indigenous people of Sabah.

This brings me to the second point I want to make: It has to be remembered that both Brunei and Sulu held sway over Sabah as a territory under their dominion, in a manner that seems more akin to the way the British North Borneo company held sway over Sabah from the 1880s to 1940s.

When the descendants of the Sultan of Sulu claim to “own” Sabah today, what exactly does this deed of ownership entail and mean? Does it signify Sulu’s former political dominance over a territory that was gifted to it by another domineering power? If so, then how is this any different from making a colonial claim over a land whose people may not even recognize Sulu’s right to govern over them?

It is ironic that while the self-proclaimed Sultan of Sulu bemoans his loss of dominance, nobody (not even the Sultan) has asked if the Kadazandusuns, Muruts and other indigenous people of Sabah want to live under his dominion. Furthermore, it seems to only underscore the fact that Sulu’s claim (like Brunei’s and Britain’s) was that of an external polity claiming a territory that was not part of their homeland proper.

Cosmopolitan Sabah

None of this alters the fact that Sabah has always been, and remains, an extraordinarily cosmopolitan space where cultures and peoples overlap and share common lives and interests. In comparison to other parts of Malaysia, for instance, Sabahan society retains its fluid and dynamic identity until today.

In Sabah it is not uncommon to come across indigenous families where the siblings happen to be Muslim and Christian, all living under the same roof and celebrating Muslim and Christian festivals together. Sabah society also seems more decentered compared to other communities in the region: The Kadazandusuns do not have a concept of Kingship, and instead govern themselves along the lines of communal leaders (Orang Kaya Kaya) and their symbolic grand leader called the “Huguan Siou.”

So tolerant and open is Sabah society that inter-ethnic marriages are common, with Kadazandusuns and Muruts marrying Malays, Chinese, Arabs as well as Suluks, Bugis, Bajaos, Bruneians. It has been like this for hundreds of years; and I hasten to add that I actually grew up in Sabah between the years 1981 to 1984, and recall how open, eclectic and mobile Sabah society was then.

Sabahans have never had a problem with other communities settling there, and that is why we still see large numbers of Suluks, Bajaos, Malays and Chinese across the state, settling into mixed families or into smaller settlements. Furthermore Sabahans are attuned to the reality of living in a fluid archipelago, which is why its coastal settlements have always been transit points where people from abroad come in and out with ease.

Just before the Lahad Datu incident I was informed that a large number of Suluks had arrived for a wedding, and they came in without passports and visas, and left peacefully afterwards.

It has been like that in Sabah since my childhood. But my fear is that culture of openness and fluidity came to an untimely and graceless end when some of the followers of the Sultan of Sulu landed with guns and rocket-launchers.

Fluid borders only exist under one assumption: that the visitor is a friend, and not an aggressor. The moment guns come into the picture, the fluid border dries up and becomes hard.

Hardened borders, hardened hearts

I hate nationalism. I said at the beginning that I am a committed Southeast Asian-ist and ASEAN-ist, and this debacle in Sabah has not weakened my resolve, as both an academic and an activist, to work towards closer ASEAN integration.

Here in my institute in NTU, I see the faces of ASEAN every single day: My students come from Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, in fact all of ASEAN. Being childless myself, I regard them as my wards and responsibility and like all teachers I want them to succeed in the future. I also want them to succeed in an ASEAN region where every ASEAN citizen feels that the entire region is his or her home, a place he/she belongs to, a place where he/she would not feel like a foreigner.

But as I said at the beginning, we ASEAN citizens also live in the age of the modern nation-state, and there is no escaping the fact that we are modern citizen-subjects as well. Being caught between a fluid region and a hard modern state is not an existential crisis that we cannot resolve, for we can bring to the modern nation-state our subjective longings to see greater integration on a people-to-people level that takes the nation-state one step further.

Already we see that the modern nation-state is beginning to transcend itself in ASEAN: The communicative infrastructure that we have built – through roads, rail and cheap airline communications – means that more Southeast Asians are traveling, studying, working and living in different parts of the region than ever before.

Gone are the days when a Malaysian, Filipino or Singaporean would be born in his country, study in the same country, work and die in the same country. In the near future, we may well live to see the birth of the first ASEAN generation who are born in one country, study in another, work in another and die in another, all the while feeling that he or she is still at home, in Southeast Asia.

But for this to happen, we cannot bypass the nation-state entirely; for we need the nation-state in order to transcend the nation-state. We need the nation-state to evolve where it may one day accept the reality that its citizens have multiple origins, multiple destinies, multiple and combined loyalties.

We need to work towards an ASEAN future where our governments may come to accept our complex, confounding hyphenated identities as something normal, and not an anomaly; when someone who is Javanese-Dutch-Indian-Arab like me can claim to come from Indonesia, be born in Malaysia, work in Singapore and love the Philippines.

Ironically, this is the impasse we are at today: To revive our collective memory of a shared Southeast Asian past, we need to work with and through the nation-state as the dominant paradigm that governs international relations.

What we cannot and should not do is selectively appropriate history to make outlandish claims that further only our own limited ends, the way China has been doing by turning to its own China-centric history books in order to claim the South China Sea as theirs.

Such selectivity, be it in the case of China’s or the Sultan of Sulu’s, denies the fact that history will always remain contested by others. Unless we are prepared to accept that whatever view we have of the ASEAN region is only one of many views, and that we need to accept that multi-perspectivism is the only way to navigate ourselves on the choppy waters of history, we will remain forever trapped in our own myopic delusions.

At present, the Sabah impasse has stirred violent emotions among nationalists in Malaysia and the Philippines, with armchair tacticians talking of more violence.

Such idle talk is unbecoming of us, a people who share a complex history whose richness we ought to be celebrating instead. And my final appeal is this: End this incursion into Sabah for the sake of the Sabahans as well as Filipinos and Malaysians; for what this has done is engendered feelings of deep fear and distrust among the Sabahans who have for centuries been among the most open communities in the region.

The thousands of Suluks, Bugis, Bajaos and others who have settled in Sabah for decades have done so with relative ease, but no longer. The Sulu gunmen who landed in Sabah did not only bring their M-16s and rocket-launchers with them, but also the divisive dichotomy of “Self” and “Other/Foreigner,” and the last thing this academic wants to see is yet another wall being built to divide Southeast Asians all over again. – Rappler.com

Dr Farish A Noor is Associate Professor at the S Rajaratnam School of International Studies, NTU University Singapore. The opinions expressed here are his own and do not necessarily represent his institution.

All photos by the the author.


South China Morning Post

When the Moro Islamic Liberation Front rebels signed a framework peace agreement at the Philippine presidential palace last October, one man in the jam-packed Heroes Hall did not join in the jubilation.

That man was 75-year-old Jamalul Kiram III, who was invited to represent the Sultanate of Sulu in the southern Philippines. He comes from a once-wealthy ruling clan that traces its lineage back to the 15th century and what is now Malaysia’s Sabah state.

Kiram was offended that neither Philippine President Benigno Aquino nor Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak had acknowledged his presence.

That royal snub, along with persistent reports of Kiram’s supporters being flogged and deported once again from Sabah, was what drove dozens of his followers to sail from their remote Philippine islands last month to press his claim.

It wasn’t an invasion, Kiram insisted, but a coming home.

“Sabah is ours,” he said, referring to the oil-rich state.

The group representing itself as a royal militia in the service of Kiram arrived by boat on February 12 to re-establish its long-dormant claim to the North Borneo area. The ensuing stand-off with Malaysian authorities erupted into violence on Friday, leaving 14 people dead.

Little of the fabled wealth Karim’s family once owned is evident in the modest two-storey house in Maharlika Village that he calls home. The village is full of refugees from the decades-long Muslim rebel conflict in Mindanao.

From the statements of Kiram, his relatives and Philippine government documents, there emerges the colourful history of how his family has tried to reassert ownership over Sabah. To this day, the Malaysian embassy in Manila delivers a yearly payment – the equivalent of 5,300 ringgit (HK$13,300).

An exasperated Kiram told Aquino: “Mr President, what more proof do you want us to show that Sabah is ours? By the mere fact that Malaysia is paying us annually in the amount of 5,300 Malaysia ringgit, is it not enough?”

Ten years ago, Malaysia’s ambassador to Manila, Mohamed Taufik, confirmed this arrangement when he told the Sunday Morning Post: “I recently paid 5,000 ringgit to the Kiram family. It’s rather miniscule – around 70,000 pesos.” He said “the rent is still being paid but it doesn’t mean we recognise” the family’s ownership.

Neither Malaysia nor Britain disputes that Sabah was a gift to Kiram’s ancestors in the 17th century for helping put down a rebellion against their wealthy cousin, Sultan Bolkiah of Brunei.

In 1878, Kiram’s great grandfather, Jamalul Ahlam, leased Sabah to Alfred Dent and Gustavus Baron de Overbeck, Austria’s former consul in Hong Kong. Both then formed the British North Borneo Company in Hong Kong and applied for a Royal Charter.

The original contract – in Malay but written in Arabic script – used the word padjak or lease, Kiram said. But the British later chose to translate it as “cession”.

This was even though British foreign secretary Lord Granville wrote in 1882 that the contract gave Dent and Overbeck merely “the powers of government made and delegated by the Sultan in whom the sovereignty remains vested”.

By the time Kiram was born in 1938, the family’s hold on Sabah had become precarious. Two years before that, his great-uncle Jamalul Kiram II had died childless. Family lore says he was poisoned.

Kiram, in a letter to President Aquino on October 15, told how the family lost Sabah: Overbeck’s “company ceded North Borneo to the British Crown on June 26, 1946.

Soon after, effective July 15 of the same year, the Crown issued the North Borneo Cession Order in Council that annexed North Borneo and Labuan as part of the British dominions”.

“This unilateral action violated the spirit of the original lease agreement,” he said.

With the death of Jamalul II, his brother Mawalil succeeded him but died suddenly six months later – again allegedly from poisoning. Mawalil’s son Esmail became sultan.

In 1962, he ceded “full sovereignty, title and dominion” over Sabah to the Philippine government.

According to then Philippine foreign secretary and vice-president Emmanuel Pelaez, Sabah was to be made part of the Federation of Malaysia in order to be “a counterpoise to the Chinese elements in Singapore” and “to ‘sterilise’ Singapore as a centre of communist infection” within the Malaysian federation.

Asserting the Philippines’ claim, Pelaez met his Malayan and Indonesian counterparts in 1963. They issued a joint communique stating that the formation of the federation “would not prejudice either the Philippine claim or any right thereunder”.

A statement known as the Manila Accord and confirming the same was issued a month later by Philippine president Diosdado Macapagal, Indonesian president Sukarno and Malaysian prime minister Tunku Abdul Rahman, documents showed.

While all this was going on, Kiram was trying to live a normal life – finishing a law degree and falling in love at 28 with 14-year-old Carolyn Tulawie. He waited until she turned 16 to marry her, according to their daughter Nashzra.

Many years later the couple later divorced amicably, and Kiram married a Christian woman named Celia. He has nine children – six with Carolyn and three with Celia.

At one point, Kiram danced with the Bayanihan, an acclaimed national folk dance company that toured the world.

He also worked briefly as a radio announcer.

Kiram’s father, Punjungan, was officially named successor and crown prince by Punjungan’s older brother Sultan Esmail.

When Punjungan fled to Sabah in 1974 during the Muslim Mindanao conflict at the time of then president Ferdinand Marcos, Kiram said he became the “interim Sultan”. But Marcos designated Esmail’s first-born son, Mahakuttah, as sultan.

Kiram once ran for Philippine senator in 2007 under the banner of then president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. He lost but gathered two million votes.

Because Marcos meddled in the succession, confusion has reigned over the identity of the real sultan. At one point, as many as 32 claimants emerged.

In a separate interview, claimant Fuad Kiram – younger brother of the deceased Mahakuttah and Kiram’s first cousin – said there were “many fake sultans” because they think Malaysia would pay them off.

Officially, the money that Malaysia gives is divided among nine relatives and their descendants.

Because of their numbers, each family ends up receiving only 560 pesos. In contrast, Fuad complained that “Sabah contributes US$100 billion GDP to the Malaysian economy annually”.

(This article first appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition on Mar 03, 2013 as Sidelined sultan seeks to reclaim Sabah heritage).

http://www.scmp.com/news/asia/article/1170481/sultan-sulu-jamalul-kiram-iii-continues-fight-sabah


by Manuel L Quezon III

I am sharing a timeline I have compiled of key events and accompanying literature on the North Borneo (Sabah) issue. This timeline is being shared for academic and media research purposes. It is not being published as an official statement of policy in any shape or form, nor does this timeline purport to be representative of of the views of the Philippine government.

1640s

Spain signed peace treaties with the strongest sultanates, Sulu and Maguindanao, recognizing their de facto independence.[1]

1704

Sultan of Sulu became sovereign ruler of most of North Borneo by virtue of a cession from the Sultan of Brunei whom he had helped in suppressing a rebellion.

There is no document stating the grant of North Borneo from Sultan of Brunei to Sultan of Sulu, but it is accepted by all sides.[2]

March 17, 1824

Treaty of London signed by the Netherlands and Great Britain

Allocates certain territories in the Malay archipelago to the United Kingdom and the Netherlands (Dutch East Indies).[3]

September 23, 1836

Treaty of Peace and Commerce between Spain and Sulu, signed in Sulu

Granting Spanish protection of sultanate, mutual defense, and safe passage for Spanish and Joloan ships between ports of Manila, Zamboanga, and Jolo.[4]

Ortiz: Spain did not claim sovereignty over Sulu, but merely offered “the protection of Her Government and the aid of fleets and soldiers for wars…”[5]

1845

Muda Hassim, Uncle of the Sultan of Sulu,  publicly announced as successor to the Sultanate of Sulu with the title of Sultan Muda: he was also the leader of the “English party,”(today the term for Crown Prince is Raja Muda)[6]

The British Government appoints James Brooke as a confidential agent in Borneo[7]

The British Government extends help to Sultan Muda to deal with piracy and settle the Government of Borneo[8]

April 1846

Sir James Brooke receives intelligence that the Sultan of Sulu ordered the murder of Muda Hassim, and some thirteen Rajas and many of their followers; Muda Hassim kills himself because he found that resistance is useless. [9]

July 19, 1846

Admiral Thomas Cochrane, Commander-in-chief of East Indies and China Station of the Royal Navy, issued a Proclamation to cease hostilities (“piracy,” crackdown versus pro-British faction) if the Sultan of Sulu would govern “lawfully” and respect his engagements with the British Government

If the Sultan persisted, the Admiral proclaimed that the squadron would burn down the capital of the sultanate.[10]

May 7, 1847

James Brooke is instructed by the British Government to conclude a treaty with the Sultan of Brunei

British occupation of Labuan is confirmed and Sultan concedes that no territorial cession of any portion of his country should ever be made to any foreign power without the sanction of Great Britain[11]

May 29, 1849

Convention of Commerce between Britain and the Sultanate of Sulu

Sultan of Sulu will not cede any territory without the consent of the British. [12]

April 30, 1851

Treaty signed with Spain by the Sultan of Sulu, Mohammed Pulalun

The Sultanate of Sulu was incorporated into the Spanish Monarchy.[13]

January 17, 1867

Earl of Derby to Lord Odo Russel:

that, whatever Treaty rights Spain may have had to the sovereignty of Sulu and its dependencies, those rights must be considered as having lapsed owing to the complete failure of Spain to attain a de facto control over the territory claimed.

May 30, 1877

Protocol of Sulu signed between Spain, Germany, and Great Britain, providing free movement of ships engaged in commerce and direct trading in the Sulu Archipelago

British Ambassadors in Madrid and Berlin were instructed that the protocol implies recognition of Spanish claims over Sulu or its dependencies.

At this point the following western countries have possessions in Southeast Asia:

1. British = Singapore, Malaya, Brunei, Sarawak, and North Borneo

2. Germany = Papua New Guinea

3. Netherlands = Indonesia

4. Spain = Philippines, Guam, Marshall Islands, Caroline Islands

5. France = Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia (French IndoChina)[14]

December 1877

Expeditions of Alfred Dent to control north part of Borneo began

Alfred Dent, member of the commercial house of Dent Brothers and Co. of London [15]

January 22, 1878

Sir Alfred Dent obtains sovereign control over the northern part of Borneo for 5,300 ringgit ($5,000) from the Sultans of Brunei and Sulu. See contending translations of relevant portions of this document. See also the Spanish translation. See another English translation.

Concessions would later be confirmed by Her Majesty’s Royal Charter in November, 1881 granted to the British North Borneo Co.

The territory of the Sultan of Sulu over the island of Borneo,

commencing from the Pandassan River on the north-west coast and extending along the whole east coast as far as the Sibuco River in the south and comprising amongst other the States of Paitan, Sugut, Bangaya, Labuk, Sandakan, Kina Batangan, Mumiang, and all the other territories and states to the southward thereof bordering on Darvel Bay and as far as the Sibuco river with all the islands within three marine leagues of the coast. [16]

Sultan of Sulu Mohammed Jamalul Alam appoints Baron de Overbeck as Datu Bendajara and Raja of North Borneo

SEE THE REST HERE  http://www.quezon.ph/2013/03/01/north-borneo-sabah-an-annotated-timeline-1640s-present/ 


The much anticipated Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) on Sabah’s illegal immigrant issue has just been announced by Najib Tun Razak. This is good news for Sabah and certainly a historic moment. Finally this issue after so many years is being investigated and given utmost attention by the Federal Government who is actually responsible for the mess Sabah is in today.

With this announcement it is confirmed that Dr Mahathir and Najib Tun Razak are at loggerheads.

Mahathir’s politically provocative statement on the eve of Najib’s announcement of the RCI was to create tension within BN Sabah and sabotage the RCI. Now it is proven that Dr Mahathir was all along making systematic attempts to change the political demography of Sabah under his adminstration at the expense of the local indigenous population. Dr Mahathir’s use of history to justify free movement of foreigners into Sabah is seriously flawed, and by his own logic, he seemed to justify the Philippines’ claim on Sabah.

I nevertheless give credit to Musa Aman for working behind the scenes convincing all parties within UMNO Sabah to accept the RCI for the good of Sabah. Must congratulate the chief minister for his foresight to set up the Sabah BN committee on citizenship under the chairmanship of Pairin Kitingan which actually served as a catalyst in the formation of the RCI. It was really difficult for Musa as there were UMNO warlords within UMNO Sabah like Shafie Apdal with vested interest refusing the RCI and manipulating Putrajaya on the process.

Some time back some people have claimed that Sabah is replete with complex socio-politico problems because of the presence of millions of illegals and if not controlled in time then this wonderful creative race called Kadazan Dusun Murut (KDM) will disappear from the surface of the earth forever. I understand why some people could think to this extent. Are the problems that Sabah have witnessed, especially in recent times, myriad enough to exterminate this intelligent and creative tribe? I do think such enormous and myriad problems have taken place in Sabah and its serious.

A national population census in 2010 showed an exponential 390 per cent increase in Sabah’s population from 636,431 citizens in 1970 to 3,120,040 citizens in 2010 ― more than double the national population growth of just 164 per cent. Of the 3.12 million Sabahans today, reports have estimated that 27 per cent are foreigners.

Then look at this figure, in 1960, Sabah population comprised 32% Kadazan-Dusuns, 23% Chinese, 15.8% other Muslims, 13.1% Bajaus, 5.5% Indonesians, 4.9% Muruts, 1.6% Filipinos and 0.4% Malays. But in 2006, the state’s ethnic composition changed drastically, comprising 25% non-citizens, 17.76% Kadazan-Dusuns, 14.62% other Bumiputeras, 13.4% Bajaus, 11.48% Malays, 9.6% Chinese, 4.8% others and 3.3% Muruts.

It is true that socio-political conflicts due to the huge number of illegals in the state has been taking place in Sabah and this has produced some good results rather than bad ones. I guess in the absence of these problems Sabahans would have not become more intelligent and conscious about their rights. Thus, problems can not be looked at cynically all the time. Moreover we can not even imagine a society without problems. Only when the problems are out of hand and when the State exhausts all its energy in overcoming the problems at hand one can argue that problems are impediments to the development/progress of Sabah. Until this stage is reached problems are in fact indispensable engines for pushing Sabahans to move forward. I feel that so many activists, so many social organizations and intellectuals would have not appeared on the soils of Sabah had the illegals gaining Malaysian citizenship via backdoor not happened. It is also to be remembered that there will not be any society where every member fully conforms to the norms and established laws of the State. Having said so, it is also wrong on the part of the authorities if they shirk their responsibilities of solving problems that are being faced by the people.

Riding on the high sounding idea of ‘no absolute wrongs’ in the social life, people like Mahathir or groups responsible for allowing the illegals to swamp Sabah use their own peculiar discourses and through them they try to rationalize their actions even though these people know very well that such actions would hurt or affect the lives of the indigenous people of Sabah. Whatever be the context in which they situate their actions and justify their actions my strong contention is that no human actions should be at the expense of the ‘common good’ of Sabah.

Fortunately, the Musa government has been really capitalizing on the opportunities thrown by the various problems that inflict Sabah and trying to improve its performances and serve the people better each day that passes by. It knows well that there are in-built solutions in every problems and tries to ferret out the solutions tirelessly rather than wasting time and energy on playing blame or ‘passing the buck’ games. Datuk Lajim Okim and Datuk Bumburing are examples of leaders who are playing blame games.

Humans are emotional so are the many participating members of Musa Aman’s government. But despite of many practical difficulties the leadership of this government, in many occasions, had tackled many sensitive socio-political issues and problems satisfactorily.

We have seen that the leadership of this government has never jumped into any hasty or irresponsible decisions. It never allows itself to be swept away or carried away by the quixotic emotional outbursts of other non-state stakeholders, including Dr Mahathir Mohamad or even “Sultan Sulu” Akjan. Instead the government tries to find or has found out solutions which are based on legal-rational principles, and are acceptable to all the parties. It steadfastly sticks to the moral and legitimate principle of democratic governance believing that the government is not for gratifying particular groups at the cost of welfare of the indigenous people.

Some may fret and fume about the existing State of affairs and fire barrage of diatribes inexorably against the handling of the illegals, against the handling of certain socio-political problems arising from the huge number of illegals and even the way the development programmes are being undertaken. But my logical question is how many of them have seen any better government than the earlier three governments USNO, Berjaya and PBS, under the present leadership. I know that I may not be politically correct to say this but I am saying this without any political leanings to any parties.

At the development front I do not see any inadequacy in the policies and programmes being pursued by the government. So, let us learn to call a spade a spade and appreciate the hard work put in by this Musa government. I also do not find any inadequacy or serious shortcomings in the measures contemplated or taken up by the leadership to address many of the gnawing socio-political problems i.e. due to the presence of millions of illegals in the state.

It is important for us to remember that many of the socio-political problems we witness today due to the illegals in Sabah do not come into existence in a day. This means that we can not afford to have quick fix solutions. Rather we need to find out the lasting solutions. This fact, it seems, is very much known to the leadership of the Sabah government. Musa knows he is answerable to the people. And as we all know GE13 is just round the corner and in any democratic set up the people are sovereign and people can deny their elected leaders a chance to become their representatives again if they feel that he or she does not live up to their expectations. Apparently Musa Aman know these democratic processes and values quite well and have outperformed his predecessors in duties of serving the people of Sabah and the Natives specifically.

Here, I can not help eulogizing Musa Aman for his political acumen and statesmanship. Under his leadership and guidance the present government has succeeded in getting the RCI on Illegals and has also succeeded attracting unprecedented developmental activities and is, relentlessly, endeavouring to lift the State to the status of one of the most developed States in the country. Take my hats off to the Chief Minister of the State.

Like any other leader Musa Aman may also be fallible. But one may not be doing any justice on one’s part if he or she is hell bent on critiquing his shortfalls unmindful of or forgetting about all the invaluable services that he has rendered so far in spite of the various constraints/limitations that he confronts with while governing this complex multi-ethnic society with their divergent vested interests.

It can also be sensed that Musa is very much familiar with the concept of ‘micro power politics’. As this element is present in all spheres of politics. And to my observation and belief Musa is well aware of the fact that until and unless the differences that arise out of the power politics at the micro level i.e. among his elected colleagues of his own party UMNO or otherwise, are resolved first, no solutions could be found out to the problems at the macro level. He has dealt with most of the problems that exists at the governmental level successfully and is able to steer his last two coalition governments for two complete terms, 2004 and 2008.

10 years as Chief Minister, being a seasoned statesman rising above the petty politics he shepherds the transition of Sabah towards the pinnacle of development. His mind boggling personal charisma and aura reach far beyond the boundaries of the State. His many bold decisions against the odds and his ‘never-buckle-under pressure-tactics’ quality least bothering about such actions may make more political foes than friends endear himself to many Sabahans. He is a ‘cult figure’ in the hearts of many of his admirers in the state.

Musa Aman is well aware of the fact that in democracy there is no place for those power elites i.e. Yang Berhormats who try to monopolize the power and the state machineries to their own personal aggrandizement. He makes his colleagues realize that in democracy none of them could remain in power if they do not go in tandem with aspirations of the people. That is the one obvious reason why Musa Aman could win a thumping majority in the last general election in 2008 where he won 59 out of the 60 state seats.

Problems are bound to be there. Heroes are those extraordinary humans who fight not only the evils but also who always try to solve the problems or hardships that people face. And to me Chief Minister Musa Aman is a hero. The leadership of the present government had shown in earlier occasions that it believed in the ‘virtues of adversity”. It knows well that if it could not meet the adversities with responsible responses it shall perish. Therefore the leadership of the present government has, time and time again, shown the grit, sagacity, skills and other bold decisions as responses to deal with the situations or challenges which rear its ugly head just like phoenix rising from the ashes. In earlier occasions the government might have faced some difficulties as to how to deal with such situations. It must have really racked its head over the solutions. But as time passes by it is able to have explored really well thought out responsible responses to deal with all the challenges. I am citing the RCI as an example.

Extraordinary people are those who face the challenges and adversities with extraordinary ingenuity and with the only available resources boldly rather than meekly surrender. Sabah government under the able and extraordinary leadership of Musa Aman, have met with all the challenges all the turbulent phases daringly and fearlessly and on every occasion it came out victorious and triumphant. The main reason of the success of the leadership of this government, I believe, is that it has faith in the core values of democracy and always capitalizes on the ‘virtues of adversities’.

The present Sabah government is an epitome of statesmanship and democratic values. At the end I have to confess that this small write-up is not an insider’s comment on the workings of the government. It is just a common man’s observation.