Philippine claim on Sabah nothing new ‘but emboldens gangs’

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TAWAU: The recent statement by incoming Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte that his country will assert its claim over Sabah is nothing new, said Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) Tanjung Batu Youth chief Jhasarry Kang.

He said similar assertions were actively pursued during the times of former presidents Diosdado Macapagal and Ferdinand Marcos, after which the issue had become dormant for decades until May last year when outgoing President Benigno Aquino III once again claimed that the Philippines will not drop its claim over Sabah.

“In my view, the incoming president is merely pursuing something that has been actively pursued before, now it seems to be an unrealistic claim. There is no merit in such a claim since Sabah has joined the federation which formed Malaysia. Sabah had been recognised by the United Nations (UN) and the international community as being a part of Malaysia since 16 September 1963.

“In conclusion, such claim is as good as over and it should be treated as history. The Philippines’ claim on Sabah is nothing in today’s context,” he said yesterday.

“Personally, I think the incoming president of Philippines doesn’t seem to know the historical facts about Sabah or he must have listened to the other side. Perhaps he is seeking public support or to impress his nation on what he may perform ever since he won the presidency.

The people of Sabah have been living in peace and harmony despite having different religions, races and ethnics for many decades ever since since it joined the federation which formed Malaysia. Therefore, let us continue this peace and harmony culture,” said Jhasarry.

He said Sabah had been rapidly developing and its economy had further strengthened under the present government.

The rapid growth is especially evident in the development of the tourism, industrial and agriculture sectors in Sabah. Many tourists around the world as well Malaysia come to Sabah to enjoy the state’s beauty and natural wonders.

Sabah has been successful in promoting its natural attractions such as its islands, beaches and cultural heritage. Sabah is also well known for its rich and diversified natural treasures like land, forests, minerals both onshore and off-shore.

“Having said that, I verily believe that no wonder the Philippines is so interested in Sabah where so much development has taken place today and it is able to maintain its natural resources. I believe their own people also benefit in terms of employment in various sectors in the state,” he said.

Jhasarry said it was very regrettable that the Philippines’ reluctance to drop its claim on Sabah had hindered efforts to forge a common front to combat the kidnap-for-ransom threat like the Abu Sayyaf gangs which is a menace to both nations.

“Therefore, the Philippines should stop pursuing Sabah to maintain peace and harmony for the state. If not, the extremists or the militants will perceive this claim as truth and will continue to intrude into Sabah because they believe the state belongs to them.

“This is especially evident when in mid-February 2013, a group of armed men, claiming to be the royal soldiers of the Sulu Sultanate encroached into Sabah via Kampung Tanduo in Lahad Datu, causing a stand-off for months.

“Ten Malaysian security enforcers were killed before the operation to rid the royal soldiers, codenamed Op Daulat, finally ended on June 29 the same year.It has become a bloody tragedy and black history of the nation,” he said.