By : JOE FERNANDEZ
WE HAVE not heard the last of the Lahad Datu Standoff if it degenerates, as it appears more than likely now, into prolonged guerrilla warfare as in the southern Philippines, but perhaps more low-key. There's a huge security vacuum in Sabah.
Witness the fact that 1.7 million foreigners, mostly illegal immigrants, flooded into Sabah by 2005 alone to dwarf the 1.5 million local population as Putrajaya looked the other way in a wink wink relationship with rogue elements. It’s unprecedented in world history.
An estimated 800, 000 of the foreigners including illegal immigrants are Suluks, many with MyKads which in the absence of state government sanction as the initiating party on a case by case basis, they are not entitled to obtain and not eligible to hold in Sabah.
They may be matched in number only by the Bugis from Sulawesi in Indonesia. There’s no love lost between these two large immigrant groups, the local Suluks in particular in the east coast having a strong sense of proprietorship, but that's another story.
Nature, according to the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle, abhors a vacuum. (Aristotle was a student of Plato, a Greek philosopher, and a teacher of the Macedonian Alexander the Great who became King of the Greeks. Plato, in turn, was a student of Greek philosopher Socrates.)
The reasons for Lahad Datu, given the fog of war, may keep changing during the course of such a conflict.
The first casualty in a war is the truth.
Beheadings, mutilations a Public Relations disaster of highest magnitude
However, to accuse Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim of having a sinister hand in Sabah and Sulu is a simplistic notion, if not cheap politics of hitting below the belt, which will not camouflage Putrajaya's sins in Borneo and the southern Philippines.
It will not cover up the fact that the Administration has blood on its hands on both sides of the Sulu Sea. Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) vice president Tian Chua was right to imply Putrajaya's bloody hands in his numerous statements reported recently on Sabah.
It cannot be denied that the current security situation in Sabah was created solely by Putrajaya which is responsible for the matter.
For starters, they dillydallied for three weeks in an act of extreme weakness if not desperation and to play politics with the issue because security in Sabah until recent days was under the Prime Minister's Department -- so more illegal immigrants can come in and enter the Electoral Rolls -- and not under the Police or Armed Forces.
Who trained the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and gave them safe havens in Sabah? MNLF leader Nur Misuari’s recent statement on these issues must be taken seriously as he, more than Putrajaya, gets the benefit of the doubt in a balance of probabilities.
By the same token, we don't know whether the Sulu terrorists admitted to carrying out beheadings and other mutilations in Sabah during the on-going Lahad Datu Standoff. The Suluks have more to lose for such dastardly acts, if true. It would be a Public Relations disaster of the highest magnitude; play into Putrajaya's already bloodied hands, and turned the local population against them.
The truth, as usual, may be somewhere in between.
There may be rogue elements involved, if not on one side, then the other.
Or, it could be a distasteful display by the population within that specific locality for any number of reasons.
We can only await a special Parliamentary session on the crisis, a Royal Commission of Inquiry or a White Paper with bated breaths. Meanwhile, Tian Chua’s sedition case should be stayed and not be used for cheap politics by the Najib Administration.
Malaysia has no stomach for war in Sabah after southern Philippines
In a reversal of the high stakes cheapo war game played for so long in southern Philippines by Malaysia, Sulu "terrorists" in Sabah or from Sulu -- or freedom fighters in their language -- will have safe havens in the southern Philippines if the flare-up in Sabah continues.
They will also have access to arms, men and material from the MNLF and its breakaway Abu Sayaff, noted for its kidnappings along the east coast of Sabah.
Malaysia will have no stomach for such a war after being allegedly engaged, overtly and covertly, in the long-simmering conflict in the southern Philippines.
If push comes to shove, and if there are no "beheadings" and similar atrocities on the part of the militants, the people of Sabah will not back Malaysia in a war against the Suluks, whether in Sabah or from Sulu. Put it down to their historical grievances over the unfinished business of Malaysia in Sabah and Sarawak and their ties to the Suluks.
The Suluks, if they take advantage of the widespread anti-Malaysia feeling in Sabah and Sarawak, will be like the fish swimming in a sea of popular support. Patriotism in Sabah begins with Sabah and does not end with Malaysia.
The "heirs" know that possession is nine-tenths of the law when it comes to the negotiating table for a diplomatic and political solution. Even so, the Suluks in Sabah or from Sulu would have to unconditionally surrender any territory seized when the country (Sabah) regains its independence.
Defunct Sulu Sultanate no leg to stand on in Sabah
The "heirs" of the defunct Sulu Sultanate -- citing marginalisation and disenfranchisement -- may grab at least Felda Sahabat centred around the Tungku Township in Lahad Datu, this being part of the territory in the Sabah east coast which covers the waterways where Sulu used to extort tolls from the terrified traffic along them.
This would force The Issue on Sabah & Sarawak: the UN would have to address the fact that No Referendum was held in Sabah, Sarawak, Brunei and Malaya on Malaysia. Already, the UN has offered in the wake of Lahad Datu to intervene in Sabah.
The Cobbold Commission in 1962 was not a Referendum but a sampling of community leaders. Ironically, only the Suluk and Bajau communities polled agreed to Malaysia. The others, including the Orang Asal, were against the idea of Malaysia in Borneo to facilitate on demographic grounds the merger between Chinese majority Singapore and non-Malay majority Malaya.
Singapore held a Yes or No Vote on independence through merger with Malaya via Malaysia.
Brunei stayed out of Malaysia at the 11th hour largely because of a rebellion in the sultanate against the idea of Malaysia.
The defunct Sulu Sultanate, of course, does not have a leg to stand on in Sabah or parts of it.
It has no private property rights to Sabah or any part of it.
It cannot claim sovereignty over Sabah.
Suluk marginalisation, disenfranchisement does not equate Sabah claim
All the "heirs' have is the 1939 Mackasie Ruling of the High Court of Borneo which recognises their right to collect RM 5, 300 per annum collectively from the Sabah Government. This is a token or fragment of history having largely only symbolic significance.
The defunct Sulu Sultanate's so-called transfer of sovereignty over Sabah not so long ago to the Philippines Government by Power of Attorney -- now expired -- is a nullity from the very beginning in international law.
The sovereignty of Sabah rests with its people.
The Sulu Sultanate died out, recorded the Madrid Protocols of 1877 and 1885, when its last Sultan died without leaving a male heir. Spain which was ruling the Philippines gave up all or any territorial claims in North Borneo under the Protocols with the United Kingdom and Germany. Read HERE
The Suluks in Sabah, claiming marginalisation and disenfranchisement since 1963, given the continuing influx of Bugis illegal immigrants in particular and Usno being deregistered to make way for Umno, is another matter altogether. This cannot be related to the so-called Sabah claim.
Sabah became British colony after World War II. The Brunei Sultanate has denied giving any part of Sabah to the Sulu Sultanate.
The entire land area of Sabah belongs to or potentially belongs to the Orang Asal under Adat as Native Customary Right (NCR).
Adat and the Orang Asal came long before the Sulu Sultanate's "Agreement" with the British North Borneo Chartered Company which obtained a Crown Charter from the Queen of England to rule Sabah on her behalf.
Sabah was never conquered in a battle or war by any party except by the Japanese during World War II, and this too was an unprovoked war in Sabah and therefore amounted to war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity.
The Japanese in Sabah were "defeated" by the British and subsequently surrendered.
So, by a legitimate Act of Surrender, War and Conquest, Sabah became British Territory until it was returned to the Orang Asal and other Sabahans on 31 Aug, 1963 by self-determination. Even so, the Colonial Office in London agreed to purchase Sabah from the British North Borneo Chartered Company for 1.2 million pounds sterling.
Sarawak independent for 150 years under a Rajah
Malaysia (Malaya) does not have leg to stand on either in Sabah or Sarawak. Sabah and Sarawak, two independent countries, were dragged by the Malayan and British Governments against their will into Malaysia on 16 Sept 1963.
Sarawak became independent on 22 July, 1963 after a brief period of British colonial rule after World War 11 during which the Japanese occupied the country. Sarawak was an independent country under a Rajah for over 150 years before the Japanese marched in.
In an interview with Veronica Pedrosa of al Jazeera on Sun 17 Mar, 2013 at his home in Mindanao, Nur Misuari -- tagged the original Muslim rebel by the station -- said Malaysia had no right to be in Sabah and Sarawak.
He challenged Malaysia to appear before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and prove its case on Sabah and Sarawak.
He said that Malaysia was a colonial occupying power in Sabah and Sarawak and accused it of using the MNLF-breakaway Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) as an instrument of its colonial policies.
He said peace would only come to the southern Philippines when Malaysia is removed from the equation. He expects MNLF-Manila peace talks to resume sometime this month in Jakarta.
On Sabah and Sarawak, Nur Misuari hinted that Malaysia “will be inviting some crisis” if it does not end the colonial occupation of these countries.
The chickens are coming home to roost
Even so, pending UN intervention; the Registrar of Societies (ROS) should allow the registration of Usno to pacify the Suluks in Sabah.
It should also rule that the parti parti Malaya have no business being in Sabah and Sarawak. This is a violation of the 1963 Malaysia Agreement, one of the many constitutional documents making up the unwritten Constitution of Malaysia. It would become clear once the fog of war lifts that the presence of such parties in Sabah is among the reasons, albeit indirectly, for the Lahad Datu Standoff.
The chickens are also coming home to roost after the Election Commission, on the directive of a self-serving Putrajaya, naively divided the Electoral Rolls in Sabah as composed of Muslim Bumiputera, non-Muslim Bumiputera, Chinese and others.
The so-called Muslim Bumiputera on the Electoral Rolls is packed with illegal immigrants at the expense of local Muslims.
The non-Muslim Bumiputera category tries to drive a wedge between the majority Christian Orang Asal and minority Muslim Orang Asal when they are related to each other.