SULU North Borneo Sabah Sultan to unite 9 heirs to Sabah Territory
By Julmunir I. Jannaral, Correspondent
The previous part reported about the claim to Sabah by the Sultanate of
Sulu, and how the reigning sultan there was suspicious about
Malaysia’s initiatives to host peace talks between the
Philippine government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front. But MILF
leaders deny that Sabah is not on the peace talks agenda.
Last of two parts
MAIMBUNG, Sulu: The 54-year-old Sultan Fuad Kiram 1st said that as the crowned ruler, he would also extend his hand of peace and unity with all nine declared heirs of Sultan Jamalul Kiram II, the Sultan of Sulu and North Borneo from 1893 to 1936.
Kiram said the nine heirs must
unite, if they are to succeed in pursuing their Sabah claim. The nine
were declared by the High Court of North Borneo on December 19, 1939 as
the private heirs entitled to receive what the court termed as
The heirs argue that it should be called “rental money” instead.
Borneo Heir are Dayang-Dayang Hadji
Piandao, Putli Tarhata Kiram, Putlih Sakinur Kiram, Datu Esmail Kiram,
Datu Punjungan Kiram, Sitti Mariam Kiram, Sitti Rada Kiram, Sitti Putli
Jahara Kiram and Mora Napsa.
Sultan Fuad Kiram 1st, whom many
of his Tausug followers and supporters called as the most amiable
reigning monarch in the history of his sultanate, vowed to restore the
grandeur of one of the surviving sultanates of Mindanao. He said he
plans to build a modest astanah or royal palace right in the historical
seat of the sultanate Dar’ul Jambangan (which means
“place of garden”), in this coastal town of
Claim to Sabah
Sultan Kiram argues that before
Malaysia’s current occupation of Northern Borneo, or Sabah,
that country never owned that disputed territory. Malaysia and the
Philippines claim the area, but Malaysia has controlled Northern Borneo
since gaining independence from Great Britain.
In the past, Malaysia refused to
recognize the Sulu sultan, who was then derided as a pirate.
On September 11, 1962, then
President Diosdado Macapagal accepted in behalf of the Republic of the
Philippines the cession or transfer of sovereignty over the territory
of North Borneo from Sultan Muhammad Esmail Kiram 1st, the reigning
sultan of Sulu at the time and also the father of Sultan Fuad Kiram 1st.
As a consequence of that
transfer, the legislature in Manila attempted to pass a bill that would
have included Sabah within Philippine territory.
But on September 5, 1968,
then-Malaysian Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman warned then-Philippine
President Ferdinand Marcos regarding the Sabah bill. The premier said
Malaysia would have to “take action” if Marcos
signs the bill into law.
Sultan Fuad Kiram 1st believes
it is now time to return Sabah to Sulu. He noted that Malaysia
celebrated its 51st independence or Merdeka on August 31, saying that
he hopes the sultan would once again rule Sabah, or at least have it
returned to the Philippines, to which the province of Sulu also belongs.
The Sabah issue could only be
resolved by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague,
according to legal experts. International law requires Malaysia to
voluntarily submit to the jurisdiction of the international court in
order for the World Court to acquire jurisdiction over the issue.
But Malaysia has
not—submit itself to the
international Court of Justice over the Sabah issue.
With such claim against the
Philippines, Sultan Kiram argues that Malaysia cannot be a treated as
an impartial peacemaker in the MILF issue—at least a party
that should be so readily trusted.
Sabah and Palawan were
given to the Sultan of Sulu by the Sultan of Brunei in 1658. The gifts
were for the help given by the Sultan of Sulu in quelling a massive
rebellion in Borneo. The sultan then had sent Tausug warriors led by
Panglima Illiji, said to be the great grandfather of Nur Misuari,
chairman of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).
Then on January 22,
Jamalul Ahlam Kiram—the great grandfather of Sultan Fuad
Kiram 1st—leased Sabah to Gustavus Baron de Overbeck of Hong
Kong and to Alfred Dent, Esquire, of London. They represented a British
Company, which paid an annual rent of P77,442.36 or $1,500 to the
The lease agreement
prohibits the transfer of Sabah to any nation, company or individual
without consent of the Sultanate of Sulu. But that was ignored when
Sabah was unilaterally transferred by Great Britain to Malaysia in 1963
after the formation of Federation of Malaysia.
violated the deed of Sabah Lease of 1878, as the Sultanate of Sulu did
not give its consent to the transfer of Sabah, Sultan Fuad Kiram I
Kiram is acknowledged
by many of
his Tausug followers as the reigning sultan of Sulu and North Borneo
based on the law of succession in the Royal House of Sulu and Sabah.
And the sultanate believes the rent paid to the heirs of
Kiram’s great grandfather by Malaysia is not commensurate to
the vast economic value of the 73,711 square kilometers area covered by
Sabah contributes about
billion to the gross domestic product (GDP) of Malaysia, Kiram said.
GDP is the total value of all goods and services produced in a country
within a year.
Just looking at fair
rental property transactions, Kiram estimated that his sultanate should
receive rent payment that is at least 10 percent to 12 percent of
Sabah’s GDP output. That comes out to between $10 billion and
$12 billion per year, he said.
Instead, Kiram added,
Sultanate receives only a paltry amount.
If Malaysia wants to
stay in Sabah legal, then the Kuala Lumpur government should pay a fair
price for rent, he said.
But if the rental
payment is not
acceptable, Kiram proposed a “joint administration”
of Sabah by the Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo and Malaysia.
The sultan said that similar to the administration or “Condominium of France and Great Britain in Vanuatu” that existed before Vanuatu’s independence, all the income in Sabah should be split 50-50.