Early Suluks in Sabah are legally M’sians — Jasa director

KOTA KINABALU: The intrusion incident in Lahad Datu should not be seen as an issue concerning race but rather a unilateral act by unrecognised individuals and group to claim for something that does not belong to them.

Sabah Special Affairs Department (Jasa) director Abdul Manap Lakariba said this at a safety briefing programme organized by Jasa Sabah yesterday.

“There are many Suluk or Tausug people in Sabah because the southern region of the Philippines is very near to Sabah. They have lived on this land before the formation of Malaysia. They are Malaysians and having the same rights with the other people. In fact, most of them are loyal to this country.

“Many of Malaysian Tausug or Suluk are also well-known political and community leaders and many of them are also working with the security forces. If we talk about where all Malaysians came from, it is not going to end. Some are from China, Indonesia and Philippines and so on. So we must avoid any issues concerning race in this incident to ensure the nation’s sovereignty,” he said to some 200 political leaders from Barisan Nasional (BN) component parties, trade associations and the Suluk community.

Abdul Manap added that it is not surprising if Agbimuddin Kiram was a former civil servant in the Kudat district office because the Kiram family are related to the late Tun Datu Mustapha Datu Harun.

He said before the formation of Malaysia, the people of Sulu had migrated to North Borneo and had participated with the other Sabahans when Sabah gained its independence on Aug 31, 1963.

“It is therefore not surprising for the Suluk people to have Malaysian citizenship after the formation of Malaysia because they have been here for a long time and had obtained their citizenship documents legally.

“This issue should not be made into political tools by irresponsible parties to deny their rights because the Suluks here are also condemning those non-Malaysians who have attacked and made a claim for this State,” he added.

Abdul Manap also explained the facts relating to the Sulu Sultanate and stressed the government of Malaysia had the right to stop paying the cession money to the heirs of the ancient Sultanate of Sulu.

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