Malaysia Stops Paying Rent for their Occupancy of Sabah North Borneo, Ready to Return to the Philippines?

Malaysia Stops Paying Rent for their Occupancy of Sabah North Borneo, Ready to Return to the Philippines?

Malaysia stops paying Sultanate of Sulu

ZAMBOANGA CITY: Malaysian Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein said his country had stopped paying cession money to the heirs of the Sultanate of Sulu.

Hishammuddin said Malaysia also did not recognize and entertain any claim by any party over Sabah, which has been recognized as part of Malaysia by the United Nations.

“Malaysia and the Philippines have an understanding that the claim over Sabah will not be raised at any regional or international platform,” he said. Malaysia stopped paying annual cession money of RM5,300 through lawyers representing the nine heirs of the Sulu Sultanate since 2013

He said the payments were made based on a treaty signed on Jan. 22, 1878, between the then sultan of Sulu, Sultan Jamal Al Alam, and Baron de Overbeck and Alfred Dent of the British North Borneo Co.

“Apart from the payments to the heirs of the Sulu Sultanate, Malaysia has never made any payment to the Philippine government,” Hishammuddin said in a written reply to Chang Foon Hin (PH-Kota Kinabalu), uploaded on the Parliament website, according to a report by Bernama.

It said Chang wanted to know if the Malaysian government planned to stop paying the cession money to the Sulu Sultanate through the Philippine government as a measure to end foreign interference in Malaysia’s sovereignty.

“Until now, the claim on Sabah has only been raised by those who claim to be descendants of the Sulu Sultanate,” he said.

Sultanate of Sulu

In February 2013, Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram 3rd sent 200 armed followers led by his younger brother Raja Muda Azzimudie Kiram, 74, to Sabah in an effort to exert his claim over the territory.

Malaysia branded the action as an invasion and launched a deadly air and land assault against the invaders, armed with automatic rifles and machetes. Kuala Lumpur also put Sultan Jamalul and his brother on its wanted list and branded them as terrorists.

The Aquino 3rd government tried to resolve the problem peacefully with Malaysia and persuaded Kiram’s group to return home following weeks of standoff with Kuala Lumpur, but it failed. Sultan Muhammad Fuad Abdulla Kiram 1st and Sultan Esmail Kiram were also involved in the negotiations with the Philippine government.

The Sultanate of Sulu continues to lay claim to Sabah. It obtained Sabah from Brunei as a gift for helping put down a rebellion on Borneo Island. The British leased Sabah and transferred control over the territory to Malaysia after the end of World War 2.

The Sulu Sultanate said it had merely leased North Borneo in 1878 to the British North Borneo Co. for an annual payment of 5,000 Malayan dollars, which was increased to 5,300 Malayan dollars in 1903.

The Sultanate of Sulu was founded in 1457 and is believed to exist as a sovereign nation for at least 442 years. It stretches from a part of the island of Mindanao in the east, to Sabah in the west and south, and to Palawan in the north. North Borneo was annexed by Malaysia in 1963.

No way

In 2016, Malaysia vowed to defend the sovereignty of Sabah following remarks made by President Rodrigo Duterte that the oil-rich state — home to about half a million Filipinos — belongs to the Sultanate of Sulu.

The Malaysia Digest reported that Duterte was quoted by Philippine media that he would never abandon the Sulu Sultanate’s quest to stake its claim on Sabah. “We are allowing proprietary heirs to talk [with Malaysia]. Since it is part of our claim, it will be there as our land,” Duterte was quoted as saying. “What has been the policy will always be the policy of the government especially those for the interest of the country. We have to stake our claim.”

But then-Malaysian Prime Minister Da-tuk Seri Najib Tun Razak vowed to defend every inch of Sabah’s sovereignty. Malaysian media quoted Najib as saying that no one could stake a claim on Sabah that had gained its independence through Malaysia with the agreement of the UN in 1963.

Even after North Borneo became part of Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur still paid an annual rent of at least RM5,300 to the heirs of the recognized Sultan of Sulu Ismail Kiram.

In 2019, then Duterte’s spokesman, Salvador Panelo, said the Philippines had not abandoned its claim on Sabah after Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad’s statement that “there was no claim” to the disputed territory. - Read more at the Manila Times
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