Sabah Crisis: Whose War Is It? And Why the Sultan’s Ownership Claim is Bogus
- NOTE: I posted the following on Facebook.
Here’s my two cents on the Sabah crisis: Let the Sultan fight his own little war.
If the Sultan’s territory were indeed unconquered as his family has been claiming for decades, and if he really exercised absolute or divine (or what ever form of) sovereignty, then he should fight his own war alone without relying on the help of the Philippine government. The Sultan has been acting like a bully (against our government and the Malaysian government).
For decades the Sultanate has been urging the PH government to reclaim Sabah. See the sheer contradictions in their claims/position? First, they have this outrageous, hilarious claim their territory remains ‘unconquered’. Yet now that they want to reclaim their alleged personal property from the Malaysian government, they suddenly feel they need our military help and financial assistance!
Since the Sabah standoff, the Sultan has been insinuating Sabah is part of the Philippine territory by desperately asking the help of the government. He’s urging our government to reclaim his so-called personal property for him, or even to declare war against Malaysia. What is clear is that the Sultan is prepared to go to war and to sacrifice the lives of his own men just to reclaim his alleged property. It’s his own war. He created it.
History has it that in 1962, Sulu Sultan Mohammad Esmail Kiram and his wife ceded all their territory to President Diosdado Macapagal. The 1987 Constitution is silent about Sabah being part of the Philippine territory. However, Republic Act No. 5446 states that Sabah is part of the country after acquiring dominion and sovereignty over it from the sultanate of Brunei.
Former Senator Richard “Dick” Gordon said that Sabah “was given to us by the sultan of Sulu and it is contained in our laws. You have to ask the
president: are you still in favor of getting Sabah?”
In response, President Aquino admonished Sultan Kiram III and his followers for going to Sabah to reclaim it from Malaysia, which he described as a “hopeless cause.”
Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero also made the following observation: ”My personal view is that the Sabah claim is a personal issue involving the Sultan of Sulu. It’s a private right and a private claim. He cannot say, however, that Sabah is part of the Philippines.”
So, there you have it, folks!
But there a lot of Filipinos who still think this war is worth-fighting for. Who will benefit from this dispute/conflict? The alleged property owner, of course! The Kiram family. Why should we pursue Sabah, militarily or in the international court, when Kiram himself cannot categorically say it’s part of the Philippine territory? Why should we spend taxpayers’ money or sacrifice our soldiers just to reclaim the alleged private property of a self-proclaimed Royal?
It was said that the people of Sabah voted to be part of Malaysia. That’s understandable. The people of Sabah acted in their own self-interest. Just imagine if a single PRIMITIVE family claims ownership of an entire island by virtue of some mumbo-jumbo ‘divine right’ of its ancestors.
Over a 100 years ago, a religious clan allegedly exercised sovereignty over certain territories simply because they had the “power” to utter mysterious words and somehow learned how to use written ‘documents’. These were the early mystics in the Southern part of Asia.
Their concept of property is mystical. It goes like this: I KNOW, THEREFORE I OWN.
They knew the existence of certain territories. Therefore that was good and powerful enough to claim sovereignty or ownership over those territories already inhabited by their native settlers.
But Malaysia outwitted this mystic family by giving the people of Sabah an option they could never resist: to be part of the Malaysian territory. The Sabah people voted to be part of Malaysia. That was an act of self-determination. That means the Malaysian now government exercises total sovereignty over the disputed property. That means the people of Sabah, who have been living there since time immemorial, could already ignore the outrageous claim of the Kiram family.
It was the people people of Sabah who improved their own lands, not the Kiram family. How can a single family own an entire island? Well, through this mystic declaration: I know, therefore I own.
Let the Sultan fight his own war. Let him send his own men to Sabah to fight against the Malaysian army. Sabah is his personal property? He should die for it. He sent his own army to die in Sabah. He knew his decision/action constituted an act of war against Malaysia.
We will profit NOTHING from this Sabah crisis. The Philippine government should not allow itself to be used by the Kiram family to benefit itself only.
Some people have been claiming that the point of the matter is one of property rights and not one of Philippine sovereignty.
The answer is: Lost sovereignty does not automatically convert to property rights. When a king or sultan lost sovereignty through invasion, overthrow or lost of power, his sovereign rule over his former territories does not turn into private property. Sabah is not a private property of the Sultan. It was a lost sovereignty. If his lost sovereignty were transformed into private ownership of the territory, then, all the toppled royals can also claim their former territories are also their private property.
The basic principle in international law is: Lost sovereignty cannot convert to private property.
The principle of sovereignty, which means ‘the quality of having independent authority over a geographic area’, is attached to Statehood. Before – or over 100 years ago- perhaps the Sultan’s ancestors were the ‘sovereign’. They were the source of political power, and they exercised sovereign rule over their alleged territories. The Sultan was the sovereign ruler of Sabah and his other territories. To keep legitimate political power over a specific territory, the governing authority must keep its sovereignty.
However, when sovereignty is lost, it is totally lost. It cannot automatically convert to private property. When a Royal family is toppled, its sovereign power ceases to exist and all its property and territories will become part of the new government.
Thus, the Sultan can no longer claim that his former territories are his private property. If Sultan Kiram III insists on making that claim, then, people of Sabah would have the right to declare war on him, just like the Americans did to King George III.