PURSUE....Sulu which is part of modern Philippines cannot pursue its claim with the Hague because it is part of modern Philippines.
By : K PRAGALATH
PETALING JAYA: If the Philippines and Malaysia take their claim over Sabah to the International Court of Justice (ICJ), Malaysia would win the case based on two reasons – the right to self determination and the continued administration of the disputed territory.
The Sulu Sultanate does not have a legal standing to claim Sabah because they do not have a nation of their own. Sulu is part of modern day Philippines.
Bar Council’s Constitutional Law Committee Chairman Syahredzan Johan said Sabahans had used their right to self determination and their choice was documented in the findings of the Cobbold Commission 1962. In 1963 Malaya, Sabah, Sarawak and Singapore formed the Malaysia.
“If there’s one argument, linked to human rights, democracy and yes, our Constitution, it would be the basic right of self-determination.
“The people of Sabah, have manifested their desire to join Sarawak and Malaya in the formation of the Federation of Malaysia. This was the finding of the Cobbold Commission in 1962. Thus, Sabah, Sarawak and Malaya formed Malaysia, and the Federal Constitution of Malaysia was born.
“So, unless it can be shown, either by referendum or by an expression in the state assembly, that Sabahans want to be governed by the Philippines, then I do not think that the Philippines can legitimately claim Sabah as their own,” said Syahredzan.
Claims over Sabah by the Philippines had contributed to the Confrontation in the 1960s. In 1976 President Ferdinand Marcos announced that Philippines was dropping its claims over Sabah.
In 1987 the Philippines amended their constitution and dropped the phrase “by historical and legal rights” as part of the definition of the national territory.
Senate Bill No. 206 also redefined the boundaries of the Philippines archipelago by amending Republic Acts 5546 where it excluded Sabah from its territory.
Previous cases of territorial disputes involving Malaysia point out the continued administration of the disputed territory is a major factor that is taken into account by the ICJ.
A case in the past decade is the Sipadan and Ligitan islands dispute in Sabah.
On Dec17, 2002 ICJ concluded that sovereignty of Sipadan and Ligitan islands belonged to Malaysia based on English East Indies Company’s administration as early as 1917 and the construction of light houses in both islands by the Malaysian authorities in 1962.
The dispute for the two islands originated in 1969 when the two countries negotiated to delimit the common border of their continental shelf. The two islands’ were however left out in the border agreement.