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What are These ‘Reclaim Sabah’ Pinoys Fighting for? NOTHING!

March 5, 2013

At the end of the day Filipinos are closet imperialists and interventionists.

I’ve seen a lot of Facebook posts and statuses from Filipinos claiming we own Sabah, therefore we must fight for it.

Fight for it? The property owner (Sultan Kiram) will not even categorically say Sabah is part of the Philippine territory! Yet you’re willing to spend millions- or even billions- of taxpayers’ money and to send Filipino solders to fight against the Malaysian army just to reclaim the alleged PRIVATE property of uncle Kiram?

That’s preposterous!

While Republic Act No. 5446 claims that Sabah is part of the country after acquiring dominion and sovereignty over it from the sultanate of Brunei, what many Filipinos tend to ignore is that the Sabahans democratically voted to be part of Malaysia. That’s their choice being the original settlers of that disputed territory.

Why do we have to deny them their right to self-determination? Who are we to deny them that right?

That’s why I said this issue proves the militaristic and imperialistic tendencies of Filipinos. I think that if the Philippines were militarily strong, the people would have voted to declare war on Malaysia just to reclaim the personal property of a single family.

Who stands to benefit from this mess? The Kiram family, of course. They’ve been claiming that the disputed territory is their personal property, not part of the territory of the Philippines.

For once, try to take their words very seriously. What did they actually say? Did the Sultan even say Sabah is part of the Philippine territory?

AFP photo: Protesters burn a portrait of Philippine President Benigno Aquino (L) and Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak (R) in front of the Malaysian embassy in Manila on March 5, 2013.

AFP photo: Protesters burn a portrait of Philippine President Benigno Aquino (L) and Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak (R) in front of the Malaysian embassy in Manila on March 5, 2013.

What’s the source of the Kiram family’s ownership claim? Apparently it’s their lost, no longer functioning sovereign rule over Sabah. The Kiram family claims that their ancestors once exercised sovereignty over the territory. They they claim that in 1878,  Sultan Jamalul Ahlam Kiram, the alleged legitimate owner, leased Sabah to a British company. And then the family leased the same to Malaysia.

See how this family treated a land formerly, previously OCCUPIED by its original settlers? Like the Philippines, Sabah has its own original settlers.

Just imagine a royal family treating its sovereign territory as its personal property. There’s something very, very wrong with that scheme! The real owners of Sabah were its NATIVE SETTLERS, not some self-proclaimed royal family that simply learned how to use written documents and to utter mystic gibberish! These native settlers have been living there since time immemorial. How can a former sovereign claim it personally owns the entire territory? If that claim were valid, then all defunct royals in Europe (e.g., the deposed royals of Iran, Greece, etc.) could also make the same outrageous, outlandish assertions.

Imagine if the Americans did the same thing to Filipinos since they bought this country from the Spaniards for $20 million dollars! How would you react if the American government would one day declare that the Philippines is part of their national private property?

The truth of the matter is, the Sultan of Sulu no longer exercises legitimate sovereignty. He’s now a commoner. His only source of power is OUR recognition. Without our recognition, he’s as powerless as any ordinary Filipino citizen.

As to its alleged ownership claim of Sabah… Since the Sultanate lost its sovereignty, it also totally lost any political power to govern the territory or even to treat it as its personal property.

Let the Sabahans choose their own fate and destiny! Let them exercise their right to self-determination! It’s their land, it’s their fate, it’s their future.

What are these imperialist Filipinos fighting for? Apparently they’re fighting for the ‘lost’ personal property of uncle Kiram!

The Sabahans are fighting for their freedom. They’re fighting for their right to self-determination! Again, who are we to deny them that right? Who are we to politically determine their fate, freedom and future!

They voted to be part of Malaysia, which is obviously economically freer than the Philippines! They made a better choice. The Philippines is a protectionist country, while Malaysia has a higher degree of economic freedom. They chose more freedom over an economic prison that is the Philippines!

Here’s an excerpt: 

Let us note that Sabah was never an empty space that was passed on from one power to another. In the past, Sabah came under the domination of the Kingdom of Brunei, and it was Brunei that then gifted parts of Sabah to the Kingdom of Sulu, and it was both the kingdoms of Brunei and Sulu that then passed it on to the British North Borneo Company. But Sabah has its own past, its own history and its own people – who seem to have been left out of the discussion altogether.

The indigenous people of Sabah happen to be the Kadazandusuns and the Muruts, who consist of the Bonggis (Banggi island, Kudat), the Idaan/Tindals (Tempasuk, Kota Belud), the Dumpaas Kadazans (Orang Sungai, Kinabatangan), the Bagahaks (Orang Sungai, also Kinabatangan), the Tombinuo and Buludupis Kadazans (Orang Sungai, also Kinabatangan), the Kimaragang Kadazans (Tandek and Kota Marudu), the Liwans (Ranau and Tambunan), the Tangaah Kadazans (Panampat and Papar), the Rungus (Matunggong and Kudat), the Tatanah Kadazans (Kuala Penyu), the Lotuds (Tuaran), the Bisayas (Beaufort), the Tidongs (Tawau) and the Kedayans (Sipitang). Then there are the Muruts who consist of the Nabais, Piluans, Bokans, Taguls, Timoguns, Lundayehs, Tangaras, Semambus, Kolors and Melikops.

These are the indigenous communities of Sabah, and if anyone has a right to the land of Sabah it ought to be them. Nobody denies that Bruneians, Suluks, Ilanuns, Bugis, Malays, Chinese, Indians, Arabs and other communities have resided in Sabah too in the past, but the latter came from other kingdoms and polities, and in the case of the Bruneians and Suluks of Sulu, they also happened to be outsiders who imposed their dominance over the indigenous people of Sabah.

This brings me to the second point I want to make: It has to be remembered that both Brunei and Sulu held sway over Sabah as a territory under their dominion, in a manner that seems more akin to the way the British North Borneo company held sway over Sabah from the 1880s to 1940s.

When the descendants of the Sultan of Sulu claim to “own” Sabah today, what exactly does this deed of ownership entail and mean? Does it signify Sulu’s former political dominance over a territory that was gifted to it by another domineering power? If so, then how is this any different from making a colonial claim over a land whose people may not even recognize Sulu’s right to govern over them?

It is ironic that while the self-proclaimed Sultan of Sulu bemoans his loss of dominance, nobody (not even the Sultan) has asked if the Kadazandusuns, Muruts and other indigenous people of Sabah want to live under his dominion. Furthermore, it seems to only underscore the fact that Sulu’s claim (like Brunei’s and Britain’s) was that of an external polity claiming a territory that was not part of their homeland proper.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. rick permalink
    March 17, 2013 3:38

    The Sultan of Sulu has the right to claim the Sabah property because they have documents to prove it. Their failure to regain it was only due to manipulation of imperialist countries like Britain, who believed that they own Islands within their view ignoring the natives that dwell in the place. If China was able to regain Hongkong which was leased to the British company , why not for the Sultan of Sulu. it appears now that the weak will certainly loss in their fight. If we have to disregard documentary evidence then all treaties and agreements between nation and individuals will be meaningless.

    • March 18, 2013 3:38

      Funny, you described some countries as imperialists when you don’t even know the self-proclaimed sultan himself is an IMPERIALIST. He’s not even a Sabahan. The Sabahans have been living in North Borneo SINCE TIME IMMEMORIAL or even long before the Brunei sultan claimed it as his own. Who are you- or who the heck is Kiram- to deny the Sabahans their right to self-determination?

      Are you saying America should reclaim PH as part of its territory, too? Remember they bought PH from Spain for $20million. And what documents are you talking about?

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