THE Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo sees politics behind Malaysia’s massive crackdown against supposed illegal immigrants in the disputed Sabah state.
Sultanate spokesman and Secretary General Abraham Idjirani said that Malaysia’s move could be a part of its plan to really get hold of Sabah longer.
He said that Prime Minister Najib Razak ordered the operation to get rid of Sabah-based Filipinos in case a referendum for the Philippines’ territorial claim will be held in the future.
“Malaysia wants to sow fear among the Filipino communities in Sabah and they want to lessen their number in case there is a referendum. They are afraid,” he added.
Idjirani said they are still checking how many Filipinos were arrested.
“This only shows that Malaysia does not recognize any law or any international agreement. All they want is to prolong their illegal occupation of Sabah,” he pointed out.
The operation, he stressed, violates the 1963 Manila Accord, which recognizes the sultanate’s claim over Sabah. The territorial claim remains pending before the United Nations (UN).
He explained that the Manila Accord prevents Malaysia from conducting this “illegal roundup” of Sabah-based Filipinos.
“In the first place, Malaysia is just an administrator of Sabah and it has not been resolved yet who owns this territory,” Idjirani added.
The agreement was signed by the Philippines, Indonesia, then Federation of Malaya and the Sulu Sultanate in July 31, 1963 wherein the three signatory-states agreed to recognize the Sulu Sultanate’s claim over Sabah and peacefully solve the dispute in the UN.
Malaysia began the crackdown against what they called “unwanted foreigners” in Sabah on Sunday, rounding up at least 2,400 illegal immigrants within the 24 hours of the launch of “Ops 6P Bersepadu” by the Malaysian police and immigration authorities.
Quoted by Malaysian news agency Star Online, Minister Datuk Seri Dr. Ahmad Zahid Hamidi of the Home Ministry said those arrested were among the 8,100 people checked by authorities in a total of 40 operations on Sunday.
Indonesian immigrants topped the list with 717 persons detained, followed by Myanmar nationals, 555; Bangladeshis, 387; and Nepalese, 229. The others included those from Cambodia, Vietnam, India, Pakistan, the Philippines, China, Nigeria and Thailand. RITCHIE A. HORARIO