Mar 4, 2013

Dr Mahathir : Lahad Datu crisis likely to worsen

KUALA LUMPUR (March 4, 2013): The escalating crisis in Lahad Datu may not die down anytime soon as the self-proclaimed Sulu Royal Army is unlikely to admit defeat, former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said today.

Offering his condolences to the families of those killed in the growing conflict, Mahathir said the situation could worsen as the group of more than 150 Filipinos, supporters of Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III, are not likely to surrender or leave peacefully.

"The situation may possibly get worse because looking at the Philippines and the people in these rebel groups, they're the type that will keep fighting even if they know they cannot win.

"I'm very sad to hear of the deaths of our Malaysian armed forces and policemen because of this, they sacrificed their lives for this country," he told a press conference after opening the Global Muslim Conference on Unity and Economy 2013 today.

Jamalul Kiram has staked an ancestral claim over Sabah and his men landed in Kampung Tanduo, Lahad Datu on Feb 12.

Fresh clashes in Semporna on Saturday, where five policemen were killed in an ambush by armed men in Kampung Sri Jaya, have brought the total death toll to 22, with seven of the dead from Malaysian armed forces and police.

Rumours of an uprising among resident Southern Filipinos in Sabah have also surfaced following incidents of violence between armed men and villagers in the Lahad Datu area, with an elderly Southern Philippines man having been beaten to death after trying to take villagers hostage.

Mahathir had on Sunday reportedly warned that the army may turn into guerrillas and launch sporadic attacks in the future.

"There is no other way than launching a counter-attack to eliminate the Sulu group," he had said at a Perkasa gathering in Perak.

Meanwhile, at the conference, the former prime minister encouraged Muslim countries to help each other out in spurring economic growth.

"Money will depreciate, so Muslim countries should invest in infrastructure, education and the people's welfare and also invest in other Muslim countries," he said. - source


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