Lahad Datu invasion: Who’s the mastermind?

Malaysia and Philippines are investigating reports linking the Sulu incursion to the opposition’s campaign to give Sabah autonomy if they win. 

(Bernama) – Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak has ordered the intelligence authorities to investigate a claim that an opposition leader had a hand in the armed intrusion in Lahad Datu, Sabah.

He said the allegation was a serious matter but there must be strong evidence to identify the mastermind.

Najib said he was puzzled as to why the armed men came to Sabah at a time when the country was about to hold a general election when the Sulu Sultanate had laid claim to Sabah a long time ago.

“All avenues must be investigated. (Philippine) President (Benigno S.) Aquino (III) also wants to know the truth.”

“The whole episode is a major embarrassment for the Philippine government.”

“They do not wish to see their citizens involved in aggression, violence, use of weapons and killing of our people,” he told reporters after opening the main campus of Universiti Malaysia Perlis (UniMAP) in Pauh, near here, today.

The prime minister was commenting on foreign media reports that an opposition leader had a hand in the intrusion by the group claiming to be the royal army of the Sulu Sultanate.

The Philippine Daily Inquirer had used a Reuters news agency article quoting a Philippine military officer as saying the intruders had come on the “invitation” of a Malaysian opposition politician.

The Manila Times had reportedly claimed that the incursion was related to the Malaysian opposition’s campaign to give Sabah autonomy if they win.

Questionable timing

Najib said Aquino had also directed his intelligence agencies to investigate and find out the truth behind the incident.

“It (the allegation) has to be supported by evidence. Photographs and circumstantial evidence.

“We do need solid evidence to know who are really behind this. As I said why all this (all of a) sudden. The timing (is) so nearly to the general election,” he said.

Najib said he believed that the group had a grand design to undermine the peace and stability that Sabah enjoyed.

Asked whether the current situation demanded a task force involving both the Malaysian and Philippine forces, Najib said: “We have to do (work) separately, but we can coordinate and exchange information.”