Feb 20, 2013

Ignoring Sabah claim causes new tension

The diplomatic lightweights and political dimwits in the Manila government all talked about forging a new regime of peace in Mindanao. What they got, for their pains, was a potentially explosive situation involving a long-standing claim to Sabah and strained ties with yet another neighboring country.

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.

In what seemed like ages ago, the Aquino administration sealed a deal in Tokyo with the secessionist Moro Islamic Liberation Front for President Noynoy’s version of greatly expanded autonomy for (and abject appeasement to) Muslim Mindanao. No one, it seems, thought about what Aquino called the “dormant” claim of the Philippine government to Sabah, which has been kept alive by the heirs of the old Sultanate of Sulu.

Now, the failure of the Manila government to factor the Sabah claim into the negotiations with the MILF has blown up in Aquino’s face. Thus, when a small force of armed men in the employ of the Sultan’s family crossed over from Tawi-tawi in the Philippines to a town in Sabah in Malaysia (which, ironically, acted as a broker in the Aquino-MILF talks), Aquino and his entire administration were caught, well, noynoying once again.

Up to today, a week since the Sultan’s men landed in Sabah, the Manila government still hasn’t come up with a response, coherent or not, to what has gotten Malaysian authorities panicking. While Kuala Lumpur has decided to deploy its security forces to isolate the Sultan’s armed men, Aquino has failed to even make a categorical statement on the matter—so badly was its lack of preparation for the plan of the Sultanate to re-occupy its old territory.

(Right up to last week, the Sultan’s heirs had been complaining to Malaysian authorities that the Manila-MILF deal would carve up its territories in Sulu and other Philippine areas that former part of the pact. Why the sultanate was protesting to Kuala Lumpur about losing lands in the Philippines shows the extent of its confidence that Manila will heed its complaints.)

Now, no one in the Aquino administration—which only weeks ago was so confident that its had brought lasting peace to the blood-stained Moro lands after the President visited the Maguindanao main camp of the MILF —seems to know how to deal with a problem that Manila never anticipated. And Aquino can’t seem to decide whether to back the Sultanate (thereby angering Malaysia) or renouncing all previous claims, dormant or otherwise, to Sabah (thus incurring the ire of the Sultan’s heirs and endangering its peace pact with the MILF).

Dormant, you say? Well, most volcanoes are dormant, too—until they erupt. - source


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