Sunday, March 3, 2013

How Can Sabah Conflict Be Solved?

There are already 21 death including the latest 7 Malaysian policemen and two Sulu men according to the latest news update.  I just hope that nothing follows, a problem that shouldn't be treated that way.

Is it hard for the Philippines and Malaysia to sit down and talk to with the Sulu Sultan and his men and settle this?  Can't they to talk officially without the loss of lives?  Twenty-one lives is twenty-one lives.

The leader of the group is the brother of Jamalul Kiram III,  a of Sultan of Sulu.  It is a title that goes back to before the Philippines was an American colony, or a Spanish colony.

In 1658, the Sultan of Brunei gave Sabah to the Sultan of Sulu - either as a dowry or because troops from Sulu had helped him quell a rebellion.  They were the two main sultanates in the region at the time.

More than 350 years later, the sultan's heirs have come to remind Malaysians that they still consider Sabah to be part of Sulu and, by extension, part of the Philippines.

"Sabah is our home," they said simply when asked why they had come.

 But history is not that simple and of course Malaysia has no intention of giving up Sabah to this little band of Filipinos. The problem of their disagreement lies in a contract made in 1878, between the Sultanate of Sulu and the British North Borneo Company.

Under this contract known as pajak, the company could occupy Sabah in perpetuity as long as it paid a regular sum of money.  Even today, Malaysia pays about 5,000 Malaysian ringgit (£1,000, $1,500) a year to the Sultanate of Sulu.  But the British and, after that an independent Malaysia, interpreted pajak to mean sale, while the Sulu Sultanate has always maintained it means lease.

"In my opinion, this is more consistent with a lease rather than a sale, because you can't have a purchase price which is not fixed and which is payable until kingdom come," said Harry Roque, a law professor at the University of the Philippines.

But does the drama should be treated as what had happened? This will be a wound that will last agaist the two nations. Malaysian government for their impatience and lack of capability to solve the issue. And the Philippines who pay less attention to the Sultanate of Sulu and his clans.

We got ourselves great history in that part of our nation.  Decades and centuries may go past, but this family remembers its history as clear as if it were yesterday.

And I also think that no peace deal, no change of presidency, not even the insurmountable odds posed by the Malaysian security forces, are going to make them forget that Sabah used to belong to Sulu - and in their minds, still does.



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