Sabah, the inevitable discourse

Looking at an old historical issue : Sabah and its angles.

Anyone commenting on this issue will normally end up being identified with the following categories :

Sultanates and their supporters

Nationalists and Historians


Beneficiaries of the peace dividend

Indeed there are angles from where to look at the Sabah claim. from a historical viewpoint it can be said that it is a junction point wherein different historical claims can be made. Some would say that indeed it is something that belonged to the sultanate, which is a political entity and that in relation to this this is an extension of the Sulu Sultanate.

Talking about sabah can never be complete without talking about one of the oldest institutions in southeast asia, the sultanate of sulu (in its many versions as described by claimants). As to whether it deserves to be independent and the ancillary elaborations. One cannot but help look at the various documentary and legal evidences supporting both the claim that sabah belongs to the Sulu Sultanate, of as a personal property of the Sultan, or the evidence that Sulu is in a state of occupation. This discourse would evidently lead towards the path of decolonization, but this another long road consider that many claim the right to be sultans while others are obviously deluded that they are rightful claimants.

There is another discourse in which we talk of nation states that evolve and take over claims of earlier states, some historians would argue that the philippines inherited the right to claim sabah since it is a property of one of its citizens, the sultan of sulu. This has been a hotly debated discourse especially since some of the claimants would actively say they are filipino citizens, to the dismay of the tausugs and sama peoples, who have been traditional defenders of the sulu Sultanate.

Skeptics would say that the era of royalties and royal states has been a thing of the past and its more of a reality that when states evolve or cease to exist, so does the property rights of individuals/entities over lands.

Beneficiaries of the peace dividend look at the sabah issue as something that should be shelved off and left, and perhaps this may be the case of the milf who signed a peace deal with the government through malaysia.

A relative who was privy to the negotiations prior to the conclusion of the FPA of the mNLF and the GRP, recalls a scenario when Misuari, and several other top leaders of the mnlf were in Lantaka hotel meeting with Norberto Gonzalez, and the conversation was actually centered on Sabah. and accordingly Bert Gonzales was asking about Sabah ,Tham Manjoorsa remarked “Huwag na muna yang Sabah sir, saka na lang.”

Details may not be that clear as to what was the deal as to why malaysia assisted the government to resolve the conflict with the MILF, but regarding the recent events, we are a major disadvantage. With an impeding bloodbath with parties both unwilling to budge an inch, it makes me remember of two scenes where two protagonists have mentioned very relevant soundbites :

“Who has claim? None has claim. All has claim”

“what is jerusalem to you?”



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