Lahad Datu siege: Does the Sulu Sultan really have a claim on Sabah?

COMMENTARY


Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III’s defiance against calls for his army in Lahad Datu to surrender despite having lost his soldiers in a shootout with Malaysian security forces and his men’s decision to “die in Lahad Datu” has stoked the curiosity of Sabahans.

His daring modus operandi in claiming Sabah as his rightful homeland has awakened the curiosity of many here who are in the dark or have only a vague knowledge about the historical background of Jamalul’s Sabah claim.

Why did Jamalul make his move now? In his own words he can no longer “trust” the Philippine government to justly pursue his claim on Sabah.

The fact is the Philippine government has been inconsistent in its claim and on its recognition of the Sulu sultanate.

Many parties in the Philippines, including the pretenders who claim the throne of Sulu, have been speaking up more out of political expediency than of historical realities.

And it is obvious that Malacañang Palace – the seat of the Philippine government – itself has been making decisions on these issues based on changing political climates and pressures, blowing hot and cold to fit its own needs at the material time in violation of past treaties and agreements, even its own declarations.

Let’s take a quick look at the history of the Philippines’ changing position on Sabah claims.

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