Lahad Datu – a bizarre crisis

The sultan should seriously get a life and or get a job. How long can he and his band of merry men last if they continue to go around pretending to be royal consorts of an imaginary kingdom?

Iskandar Dzulkarnain, FMT

Apparently, our billion-ringgit jet fighters missed their targets, as mopped-up operations failed to turn in any bodies, while the chief of the militant group, “Prince” Agbimuddin Kiram, has appeared on Philippine national TV live in a telephone interview.

So, there was no total victory as reported and the siege has not ended. The stand-off is turning more bizarre as the Philippine media reported a conspiracy involving the Philippine opposition under former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

Coincidentally, the Malaysian government is also pointing its fingers at the involvement of the opposition here. Representatives of the self-proclaimed Sultan Jamalul Kiram III were alleged to have attended the Umno annual general assembly last year, while some Sabah Umno representatives are alleged to have close ties with the Sulu Sultanate.

So, it is not merely the case of a simple band of 200 opportunistic marauders landing on Sabah’s shores with the high hopes of staking a claim on Sabah. Apparently, there is more at stake involving the governments or opposition of both countries.

“Princess” Jacel Karim of the Sulu Sultanate has come up with contradicting statements, adamant that the Malaysian government has agreed in principle to pay compensation to the Sulu Sultanate, a few months before the onset of this conflict. She is also reportedly unhappy with the terrorist label and claims that the intruders are armed with the “truth”.

“Sultan” Jamalul Kiram III describes the 200 intruders as the “Royal Sulu Army” – men of honour, disciplined, peace-loving, who have returned to stake their claim on their long-lost homeland. They want to live among Sabahans, share their land with us including the riches and spoils of Sabah.

They also want to install a Sultanate and enforce the Syariah code. Sabahans can also look forward to a Sultanate and become his loyal subjects.

Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) chief Nur Misuari seems to be taking a great interest in the crisis by initially offering to mediate a ceasefire. Later, he warned that MNLF will not sit idly by and watch the Malaysian army annihilate the intruders.

President Benigno Aquino III will not be forgiven for standing back while Malaysia rained bombs on Filipino citizens in Sabah, Nur Misuari has said.

“Aquino should be more decisive and stop Malaysia’s attack on Jamalul’s men in Sabah instead of siding with his southern neighbour. What he has done is very bad.”

“And for what reason is he [Aquino] aligning this country with Malaysia, a colonial power occupying the land of our people? I am totally against that with all my soul. The country will be in total chaos if they [Malaysia] arrest the Sultan, I promise you.”

A mischief-maker

From his statement, Nur Misuari is adamant on prolonging this conflict for whatever reason best known to him. And basing on his actions, Nur Misuari has proven himself to be a mischief-maker bent on war and destruction.

Why would anyone want to quote him defies the imagination. The Philippines and Malaysia should leave him alone to his little toys and avid imaginations of grandeur.

Ironically, the Christian Filipino government has just signed a peace treaty with the Muslim rebels, signalling a ceasefire in the Southern Philippines. Are the restless freedom-fighters now eyeing other easy targets to the South?

About 800,000 Filipinos from the Tausog tribe are known to be residing in East Malaysia with many holding blue ICs and citizenship. The MNLF has warned that another 10,000 Tausogs have set sailed for the coast of Sabah to reinforce the 200 intruding militants.

The USS Guardian, an American warship that ran aground in the Sulu Sea three weeks before the invasion, has set off speculation that the US may be involved, and equated the incident to the migration of the Sulu militants to Sabah.

Whatever it is, Sabah has chosen to unite under the Malaysian federation in 1963 and it is an undeniable part of Malaysia.

Malaysia should not entertain any opportunists, whether the Sultan of Sulu or the Filipino government, that are trying to stake a vague claim on Sabah.

Whether there was any conspiracy in the Lahad Datu stand-off, the Malaysian government must move quickly to resolve this crisis before it blows out of proportion.

An alternative is to provide a safety corridor for all the militants to return to the sea peacefully.

Porous borders

All foreigners without valid documents should be asked to leave Sabah before our government embarks on a high-profile operation to crack down and rein in all the illegals. Besides, there should not be any illegals residing in Sabah or anywhere else in Malaysia, according to the law.

Secondly, the Malaysian navy should take concrete steps to seal our porous borders against any future illegal intrusions.

Trade can continue as long as foreigners are in possession of legal documents. It is time to solve Sabah’s longstanding immigrant problems once and for all.

We believe that the majority of legal Filipino Malaysians residing in Sabah would be loyal to Malaysia and would not want any conflict to jeopardise the peace and tranquillity of the state which they have chosen to call their homeland.

In short, they are no more Filipinos but legal Malaysian citizens who speak the Malay language, like what former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad has said.