Sabah Claim

Sabah, the "Land Below The Wind" because it lies south of the typhoon belt, is now buffeted by the winds of change propelled by the heirs of the Sultan of Sulu.

Impatient over the Philippine government's inaction to officially settle their claim to most of the eastern part of Sabah, Sultan Jamalul Kiram III, leading loyal followers of some 400 Sulu residents, some of whom are lightly armed, staked his claim to what he believes is land that belongs to his family.

They are now settled in Lahad Datu, demanding that they should not be expelled from Sabah, an area that the Philippines, on behalf of the heirs of the Sultanate of Sulu, had been trying to reclaim from Malaysia.

This conundrum is now bedeviling the Aquino administration, the fly in the ointment of what was supposed to be a peaceful resolution of the Mindanao conflict with the pending signing of the agreement with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

In the '50s, the Philippine map includes a portion of north Borneo that is outlined but without any recognizable feature, "Terra Incognita," but part of the territory nonetheless since this area used to be under the Sulu Sultanate in the 1400s.

It is time once more to revisit the Borneo dispute for the edification of the younger generations who might not be aware of what this hoopla is all about.

On January 22, 1878, the Sultanate of Sulu and British commercial syndicate (Alfred Dent and Baron von Overbeck) signed an agreement, stipulating that North Borneo was either ceded or leased (depending on translation used) to the British syndicate in return for payment of 5,000 Malayan dollars per year.

On April 22, 1903, His Majesty, Sultan Jamalul Kiram, signed a document known as "Confirmation of cession of certain islands," under what he either "granted and ceded" or "leased" additional islands in the neighborhood of the mainland of North Borneo from Banggi Island to Sibuku Bay to British North Borneo Company.

The Malaysian Embassy in Manila continues to pay "cession money" to the heirs of the Sultanate of Sulu, amounting to R73, 940 or RM5300. This cession money is confirmed by the Malaysian Embassy in Manila and the heirs of the Sultanate of Sulu.

A British version of the agreement says the grant is ceded, while the Sulu version says it was a lease.

The key word in both the agreements was "padjak," which has been translated by American, Dutch, and Spanish linguists to mean "lease" or "arrendamiento."

The British nevertheless takes the word "padjak" to mean "grant and cede," according to Wikipedia.

"It can be argued however, that "padjak" means "mortgage" or "pawn" or even "wholesale," as per the contemporary meaning of "padjak" in Sulu.

This indicates that the agreement was actually a contract in which the Sultan of Sulu placed the land as mortgage/perpetual lease in return for a loan of 5,300 Malayan dollars per year in perpetuity.

To this day, although many Filipinos are mum on the matter, they blame British duplicity for giving Sabah back to Malaysia, a former colony and not to the Philippines.

During former President Diosdado Macapagal's watch, the territory of North Borneo, and the full sovereignty, title, and dominion over the territory were ceded by the then reigning Sultan of Sulu, HM Sultan Muhammad Esmail E. Kiram I, to the Republic of the Philippines.

The cession effectively gave the Philippine government the full authority to pursue their claim in international courts.

The Philippines broke diplomatic relations with Malaysia after the federation included Sabah in 1963 but probably resumed it unofficially through the Manila Accord.

In 1968, former President Ferdinand Marcos trained a team of saboteurs on Corregidor for infiltration into Sabah but the plan went awry. The soldiers, except one, were shot and the event became known as the Jabidah massacre.

Marcos dropped the claim but the aggrieved Malaysians insisted on an explicit, humiliating public renunciation that no Philippine president could meet their conditions, Wikipedia said.

Diplomatic ties were resumed in 1989 and during the time of President Fidel V. Ramos, the Sabah claim was relegated to the back burner in the interest of pursuing cordial economic and security relations with Kuala Lumpur.

On July 16, 2011, the Supreme Court ruled that the Philippine claim over Sabah is retained and may be pursued in the future.


Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • Philippine economic growth slows to three-year low
    Philippine economic growth slows to three-year low

    Philippine economic growth in the first quarter slowed to a three-year low of 5.2 percent, well below forecasts, due to lethargic government spending and weak exports, officials said Thursday. "While growth in the private sector remains robust, the slower than programmed pace of public spending, particularly the decline in public construction, has slowed down the overall growth of the economy," Economic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan told reporters. "Exports were the other source of the …

  • EM ASIA FX-Won near 2-month low on plunging yen, peso pares gains as growth weakens

    * S.Korea intervention spotted, won hits 7-year high vs yen * Philippine peso briefly weaker after Q1 growth disappoints (Adds text, updates prices) By Jongwoo Cheon SEOUL, May 28 (Reuters) - South Korea's ... …

  • Britain's tied visa rules fuel abuse of live-in maids, nannies

    By Katie Nguyen LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - When Susi, a single mother from the Philippines, left for a job in Qatar, she convinced herself it was a sacrifice worth making for her children at home. For more than a year, Susi's sacrifice involved waking before dawn and working past midnight, cooking, cleaning and looking after a Qatari family. Conditions deteriorated when Susi was brought to Britain by her boss. …

  • SE Asia Stocks - Philippines at four-month low after Q1 GDP miss

    BANGKOK, May 28 (Reuters) - Philippine shares hit a more than four-month low on Thursday after economic growth in the first quarter was slower than expected, while Thai stocks retreated after disappointing ... …

  • Philippine economic growth slows to 5.2 percent in 1Q

    Sluggish government spending slowed Philippine economic growth in the first quarter of this year, officials said Thursday. The country's gross domestic product grew by 5.2 percent in the first quarter, ... …

  • PSE to sell Makati and Ortigas offices
    PSE to sell Makati and Ortigas offices

    Set to move to a unified headquarters in Bonifacio Global City in 2016, the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) has issued plans to sell their offices in Makati and Ortigas. PSE President Hans Sicat issued that PSE means to sell the offices, but that they may also opt to rent them out instead. …

  • ‘Inland areas could be exposed to tsunami-like waves’
    ‘Inland areas could be exposed to tsunami-like waves’

    While strong earthquakes cause tsunamis in coastal areas, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) warned that inland areas could also be exposed to tsunami-like waves, or seiche, if located near or around bodies of water. In a recent earthquake awareness seminar in Muntinlupa, Phivolcs supervising science research specialist Joan Salcedo explained that a seiche is a large wave similar to a tsunami, triggered by strong ground shaking from an earthquake or volcanic …

  • China gives ‘gentle reminder’ to Phl, warns small nations
    China gives ‘gentle reminder’ to Phl, warns small nations

    China gave the Philippines a “gentle reminder” last Tuesday that Beijing will not bully small countries but warned these nations not to make trouble willfully and endlessly. “Here is a gentle reminder to the Philippines: China will not bully small countries, meanwhile, small countries shall not make trouble willfully and endlessly. The Chinese Foreign Ministry also said that China would continue to build other civilian facilities on relevant maritime features in the disputed Spratly Islands …


Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Poll Choice Options