Malaysia’s motive as peace broker under question

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President Benigno S. Aquino 3rd and Malaysian Prime Minister Dato' Sri Haji Mohammad Najib bin Tun Haji Abdul Razak walk to the Perdana Putra building in Putrajaya on Friday for a meeting. President Aquino is on a state visit to Malaysia. MALACANANG PHOTO

President Benigno S. Aquino 3rd and Malaysian Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Haji Mohammad Najib bin Tun Haji Abdul Razak walk to the Perdana Putra building in Putrajaya on Friday for a meeting. President Aquino is on a state visit to Malaysia. MALACANANG PHOTO

THE Malaysian government has been aggressively pursuing the signing of the peace pact between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) for two reasons—its territorial hold on Sabah and the development of Liguasan Marsh in Mindanao, an area rich in gas reserves.

A book published by the Office of Strategic and Special Studies (OSS), the think tank of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), casts suspicion on Malaysia’s real motive for brokering peace between the two camps.

“Doubts by many a Filipino about Malaysia’s role have not been completely dispelled. They suspect that the Malaysians have been supporting Filipino Muslim separatist groups by funding and training their fighters and that brokering a peace agreement favoring them would ultimately favor Malaysia,” wrote University of the Philippines Political Science Prof. Jose Raymund Quilop and Cesar Pobr, in their book, In Assertion of Sovereignty.

The OSS said Malaysia and the MILF were a “tag team” in persuading Manila to giving in to the secessionist group’s demands. The MILF, the book said, was firm in having Malaysia as a peace broker.


Unlike the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), which has vowed to reclaim Sabah, the MILF has assumed a more flexible stand, mainly because Malaysia has been supporting the MILF’s fight.

“The Philippine standing claim over Sabah has been echoed by the MNLF. The MNLF, through its leader Nur Misuari, has expressed its vow to reclaim Sabah. It sees the peace process as a sell-out, with the MILF openly tolerating Malaysia’s sovereignty over Sabah,” the book said.

In February last year, armed followers of the late Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram 3rd occupied a town in Sabah, asserting the Sultanate’s claim on the territory. Kuala Lumpur drove the intruders out after a series of bloody clashes. Misuari, like Kiram and his followers, belong to the Tausug tribe of Muslim Filipinos.

The OSS, which has been providing insights on defense policies and strategies for decades, said Kuala Lumpur wanted a final peace deal with the MILF signed so it could supplant Manila’s 1996 pact with the MNLF.

It said that the MNLF and the Sulu Sultanate’s threat to reclaim Sabah “might have prompted Malaysia to take a more forward step to fast-track the conclusion of a GRP-MILF deal so that it could have precedence over the GRP-MNLF peace deal,” the book said.

Other excerpts from the military-sanctioned document claim that it is likely for the MILF to tap Malaysia as its partner in exploring the vast Liguasan Marsh in Central Mindanao.

Investment opportunities eyed

On Thursday, Philippine Ambassador to Malaysia Eduardo Malaya said after the signing of the last annex in the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro, 13 Malaysian companies visited Cotabato province to explore investment opportunities in the southern region.

The Malaysian firms were the first international business groups to show interest in putting up businesses in Mindanao.

Malaya said the companies are looking at oil palm plantations, rubber manufacturing, halal foods, infrastructure development and light manufacturing as lucrative ventures.

Last month, the Philippine government and the MILF signed the Annex on Normalization that will lead to the decommissioning of the MILF’s armed force and private armies in the proposed Bangsamoro area. It was the last of the four annexes to the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro, which was signed on October 15, 2012.

“I think the focus of the visit would be consolidating peace and supporting the development of Mindanao. Malaysia has been the facilitator of the Mindanao peace process since 2001. In our view, they are invested in that process as we are in the Philippine government,” Malaya told reporters.

“They stayed the course and what is important now that there is a successful conclusion of the peace process is to transform the support and the goodwill from facilitation of the peace process into concrete economic support measure, so that in the words of the Prime Minister—‘the former freedom fighters can be transformed into productive farmers,’” Malaya said.

Arms supplies from Malaysian dealer

The book details how Malaysian funds, guns and ammunitions had found their way into MILF hands in the past.

Documents seized from an overrun MILF camp indicated that MILF vice chairman for political affairs Ghadzali Jaafar wanted to buy weapons from a Malaysian arms dealer named Rim Kyu Do. On September 25, 1999, Rim was handed two checks in the amount of $1 million.

“This amount was to be part of a total $2,196,250 as advance payment for the purchase of what appeared to be a Swede-made MSM Type A midget submarine with a Swimmer Delivery Vehicle, SA-16 surface to air missiles and a 30 MM anti-tank cannon,” the book said.

The submarine could be used to transport MILF fighters around the Liguasan Marsh and to attack targets, including the Malampaya gas plant, it said.

The Malaysian arms dealer was able to deliver millions of bullets but the deal subsequently fell through. The government said the deal collapsed because Rim could have run away with the money, or the military offensive against the MILF made the delivery of arms difficult.

Sabah not included in talks

On Thursday, President Benigno Aquino 3rd flew to Malaysia for a two-day state visit.

Before leaving for Kuala Lumpur, the President said he would relay the Philippines’ thanks to Malaysia for helping the survivors of Super Typhoon Yolanda. Aquino said Malaysia had given $1 million and sent medical and humanitarian assistance teams to the typhoon-ravaged areas.

He was also scheduled to sign a few agreements during his meeting with top Malaysian officials.

But the thorny Sabah issue is not on the agenda.

“We are confident the visit will promote our interests and deepen our ties with our neighbor while offering more opportunities for Filipinos,” Aquino said.

With him are Secretaries Albert del Rosario of Foreign Affairs, Cesar Purisima of Finance, Gregory Domingo of Trade, peace process adviser Teresita Deles, Lualhati Antonino of the Mindanao Development Authority, Julia Abad of the Presidential Management Staff, Herminio Coloma Jr. of the Presidential Communications Operations Office, and Cabinet Secretary Jose Rene Almendras.

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13 Comments

  1. Martial Beltran de Anahaw on

    Chinese Malaysians are not like anti-emperialist muslims. They go for the business even it costs the ideolgy, faith or any creed. What i mean are those 30 visiting malaysian private investors visiting in Liguasan Mars recently. I can compare this to the time of Saddam Husien when he recontructed his Iraq. Of course he can not accept Americans and other west investors. He chosed the lesser imperialist who are barely christians, JAPAN. My brother worked their in Iraq two times for many years. I met his employer here in Europe, also our family friend. This employer told me he was just an atsoy there by the Japanese and American. When i asked why: They only used my engineer name, registered as engineering construction in Tokyo and recruited professional workers from the Phils. The whole theatre was runned by Americans using their US-born Japanese who can not even speak good japanese. Thats why lahat ng otot at pautot and real world of Saddam known to the CIA. I was thinking of those kuno malaysian investors that vesited Liguasan recently. Well guys, use your imaginations.

  2. This article says the Government of the Philippines (GPH) have evidence that MILF vice chairman for political affairs Ghadzali Jaafar is a participant in illegal firearms smuggling into the Philippines. Did the GPH Department of Justice and law enforcement agencies filed a case against him? If not, then there seems to be lapses in law enforcement, or perhaps the GPH is part of the conspiracy.

    John R. Petalcorin
    Director for Communications, MNLF
    Executive Director, Mindanao Independence Movement (MIM)
    Admin, MNLFpage

  3. Noy V. Brizuela on

    maybe it is still Pre-Mature to say that PNoy can sign the FAB with MILF/Malaysian Brokered Agreement–simply because 1st MILF has nothing to say that they have the so called ‘ANCESTRAL DOMAIN’ TO SPEAK OF–2nd-they have nothing to say that they are an Entity that are sovereign–3rd-they cannot claim they are PART AS A STAKEHOLDER to speak of too?! RIGHT???—SO, PLEASE MAGHUNOS-DILI KAYO! SA PALAGAY KO, FROM THE VERY START– NULL & VOID O AB-INICIO ang dating niyan or in short HINDI TATANGAPIN NG BAYAN AT MAMAMAYAN ANG GANYANG PARAAN!!!–ANG AKING MUNG-KAHI, KUNG MAARI AY IPAGPALIBAN NA MUNA AT TAWAGIN AT ISAMA ANG LAHAT NA ‘STAKEHOLDERS’, DI-BA?!

  4. not really, if we play it with a good mind, actually we will be using Malaysia instead. If the peace deal is successful and then Malaysia invests in Mindanao then that will be in our favor. this does not mean we are also abandoning the Sabah claim. since our AFP is weak and ill equipped we are not ready to confront Malaysia militarily. so to play it smart, let it play the way it is. then when we are ready we can strike. in the meantime let Malaysia invest and help develop Mindanao. as long as we control the situation and keep on good intelligence in their dealings and activities in Mindanao, we are in the advantage. Besides look at what MNLF and sultan did, they partially invaded Sabah only to be repulsed, because they were not prepared and weak. lets play this to our advantage and im sure we will be the winner.

  5. Rosauro Feliciano on

    If we look back into the time when the Federation of Malaya got its Independence from the UK, Indonesia and what it is now Malaysia was at odds; remember the Gadjang Malaysia in the early 1960s? The MNLF which was brokered by Indonesia would have been a master peace plan if implemented correctly. From the start Malaysia’s motive was questionable because it was supporting the MILF to fight against our Armed Forces. Indonesia has always been our friend and we should cherish it.

    For all we don’t know Malaysia is a wolf in sheep skin, which will agitate the MILF to join the Federation of Malaysia. Malaysia has been arming its Military for no good reason at all while we have neglected ours because SOME of our leaders are corrupt officials.

  6. This game that we are playing is anybody’s point of view so let’s just all wait and see what will happen next, I’m sure there will be no conclusion till the end of time.

  7. The peace deal between the RP govt and the MILF is the culmination of the hidden motive of Malaysia to ensure that RP will not be able to claim back Sabah. And to add insult to the integrity of the Philippines, Malaysia invited P’noy to visit Malaysia and he accepted it on the anniversary of the attack by MNLF on Sabah to re-claim it in the name of the Sulu sultan. and on that day, Pnoy and Malaysia made the announcement of the signing of the peace treaty between RP and the Malaysian surrogate MILF by the end of March. Truly, the Philippines under P’noy was outwitted by Malaysia. P’noy had sold out the Philippine sovereignty.

    • Do you know exactly what they are signing? Wait till we see what are these agreements then that’s the time we can give our personal opinion hopefully prudently.”

  8. PNoy could be remembered in the Philippines history who has caused the lost of Sabath & Mindanao to Malaysia & Muslim respectively. He may be remembered also as the President who allow US to re-establised a permanent military base in the country. The president who caused the nation lagging behind the fast economic development among ASEAN nations. Believe me…

  9. Itong Malaysianong gobyerno na ito wala akong tiwala dyan. Si PNOY lang naman ang may tiwala dyan, syempre may family business sila doon at malaki ha. At dahil dyan para maprotektahan ang business nila doon baka magdusa ang Mindanao.