Wednesday, February 8

Sulu claims spread to Sarawak


MNLF founder says his clan the true owners of Sarawak, Aquino smells conspiracy behind Sabah intrusion

KUCHING: The founder of Bangsamoro separatist group the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) Nur Misuari has claimed that Sarawak is also part of his clan’s ancestral lands.

The Philippine Star yesterday reported Misuari as saying he and his clan were the true owners of Sabah and Sarawak and that history would bear out that both states were the original properties of his great, great grandfather.

The leader, who is also former governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, also admitted that his relatives and MNLF group members were among those who went to Lahad Datu, but denied instigating the invasion.

Misuari’s denial seemed to be a response to Philippines President Benigno Aquino’s claim yesterday that there was a conspiracy behind the decision of Sultan Sulu Jamalul Kiram III and his followers to use force to press their claim on Sabah.

“We are aware that people conspired for this situation to happen. We know some of them. The others are still hidden,” Aquino said amid criticism of how the government handled the situation.

He added that he was not blind to signs that point to a conspiracy in the ongoing tension.

Citing intelligence reports, Aquino said they had already identified “persons of interest” involved in the plot to move against Sabah. Cases are already being prepared against them, he added, without naming names.

Aquino said Sultan Jamalul Kiram III alone could not have ordered the move.

Aquino said the Kirams would have had to spend at least P100,000 (RM7,600) to hire a large boat to bring their forces to Lahad Datu and claimed they used two large boats and a speedboat to bring their men to there.

He also said the Kirams could not have financed the operation, noting that Kiram III is receiving financial support from the government for his regular dialysis.

Aquino said the government is aware that the situation could get worse and that the other option is a peaceful end to the conflict.

In a statement reported in various media and news portal in the Philippines, he said he is not changing his position to call on Filipinos holed up in Sabah to surrender.

He said the Philippine government is also concerned about the 800,000 Filipinos in Sabah whose lives could be jeopardised by the tension caused by the Kiram’s group.

Department of Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario is now on his way to Malaysia to work for a possible peaceful resolution to the situation, Aquino added.

Meanwhile tt was also reported that MNLF’s Islamic Command Council chairman Habib Mujahab Hashim had offered to mediate between the Sulu sultanate’s army and Malaysian forces.

The Philippine Star also reported the MNLF is urging the United Nations (UN) and Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to intervene and initiate negotiate between Malaysia and the Sultanate of Sulu.

Hashim also urged the UN, through its committee on human rights and the International Committee of the Red Cross, to send representatives to Sabah to monitor actions taken by Malaysian forces against Filipinos there.