Feb 20, 2013

Funding of Sultan's men in Sabah under question

If Sultan Jamalul Kiram III could have had his way, his men would have never crossed to Sabah and occupied a village in Lahad Datu town more than a week ago - because in reality the Sultanate of Sulu, as royal as it might sound, has been struggling with its finances.

Here's the evidence of Leased Payment from Malaysian Government to the Heirs of the Sultanate of Sulu that is being leaked on the internet.

The Sultanate is on the verge of bankruptcy, according to Julkipli Wadi, dean of the Institute of Islamic Studies at the University of the Philippines.

The Malaysian government pays a meager 5,330 ringgit - roughly P70, 000 - for its annual lease of Sabah. The amount is then divided among the nine descendants of the Kirams.

Dayang-Dayang Sitti Krishna Kiram–Idjirani, one of sultan's younger sisters, said that she would only get P600 from the lease - which is not even enough to pay for her monthly phone bill.

The Sultan himself regularly needs medical attention, including dialysis, because he had a heart bypass operation a few years ago.

So the Sabah standoff has put into question how the Sultanate could afford to send at least 200 armed followers to Sabah and occupy a village.

Sources in the intelligence community said that they were looking into the source of funding of the group.

Ghadzali Jaafar, vice chairman of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), pointed out that the cost of weapons alone would be high.

An M-16 rifle would cost P65,000 while an M-14 rifle would cost P85, 000 - no ammunition included, he said.

The Sultanate's spending for the trip to Sabah would also have to cover motorized sea vessels, food, and support for their families back home.

One point under suspicion is the ties that bind Sultan Kiram III and Norberto Gonzales, once a national security adviser and secretary of National Defense during the Ramos and Arroyo administrations.

The speculation is that dirty politics may have instigated the Sultanate to throw a monkey wrench on the ongoing peace talks between the government and the MILF by using the Sabah claim as a leverage.

Despite such suspicions, Pastor Boy Salcon, a supporter of the Sultanate of Sulu, said he believed that the Sultanate has the means to fund followers in Sabah.
“They are doing this on their own, bringing their own provisions, bringing their own logistical requirements," Salcon said. "No money whatsoever will come from any foreign entity or even rich entity from the Philippines.”
But experts from the academe view the Sabah standoff from a different perspective.

While they agree that doubts may be raised on the motivations of the Sultanate, mishandling the present situation, such as violently forcing followers to return to the Philippines, may lead to dire consequences.
“I know where they are coming from but that is a danger there that when you ask them to do that, that means those people have lost face. And you know what happens when people lose face, they will really go to war”, said Clarita Carlos, President of the Center for Asia Pacific Studies Inc. and a full-time professor at the University of the Philippines.
Once violence breaks out, Carlos said that the ongoing GPH-MILF peace talks will likely be its first casualty, since Malaysia has been brokering the negotiations.

If the situation worsens, the conflict could actually be used to destabilize the Aquino administration.

Meanwhile, Dean Wadi said that there could be a reconfiguration of forces between the Muslim factions, such as the MNLF, the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) and the Sultunate - they might join forces to support the Sultanate.

Both Wadi and Carlos insist that the government and MILF should consider modifying their peace agreement to accommodate the Sultanate as the most viable solution to end the present crisis. - source


Post a Comment