SULU Princess Jacel Kiram said Malaysia is one of her favorite countries to visit. But as much as she wanted to see the country again, she has to restrain herself for now for her safety.
Jacel Kiram recently hit the headlines in Kuala Lumpur for having a “selfie” photo with Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) Vice President Narul Izzah Anwar, daughter of former Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim.
The photo was taken on November 9, 2015 and was picked up by Malaysian newspapers, with officials castigating Anwar for mingling with a “terrorist.”
Jacel Kiram is the daughter of Jamalul Kiram III, a former self-proclaimed Sultan of the Sulu Sultanate who reportedly ordered the sending of about 200 armed men to take over Lahad Datu, Sabah, in March 2013.
Prime Minister Najib Razak said Anwar “has relations with the recent Sulu terrorist” and hurt the feel-ings of Malaysians.
“Nakakalungkot lang kasi mukhang hindi na ako makakapunta doon. ’Pag terorista doon, ’di ba pinapa-tay na agad? Wala nang due process [It saddens me because it seems that I can no longer go to Malay-sia. They kill terrorist there right away, right? There is no due process],” she said.
Jacel Kiram noted that the Filipino community in Malaysia did not even defend her.
The meeting of the two took place at an event in Manila, hosted by the Council on Philippine Affairs, Asian Institute for Democracy, Office of the City Mayor of Manila and the Office of the Vice President of the Philippines.
The meeting was in support of the United Nation Working Group on Arbitrary Detention’s position for Anwar Ibrahim’s immediately release.
Jacel Kiram said she did not expect the controversial encounter and opted not to discuss the issues in Sabah “because we will never reach an agreement.”
In an earlier statement made after the public and government outrage, Narul Izzah said she was “deeply regretful” over the photo that hurt the Malaysian community.
The Sabah legislative assembly ordered Nurul Izzah not to return to Manila after the controversy.
Jacel Kiram is now running for senator in the May 2016 elections to push for the Philippines’ claim to Sabah.
She said the government has seemingly lost its interest in the resource-rich island and makes a priority the fight for the sovereignty in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).
Despite her poor survey ratings, Jacel Kiram is optimistic that Filipino voters will eventually realize the need to have a Moro representative in the Senate.
There has been no Moro voice in the Senate for two decades now after Mamintal A.J. Tamano and Santanina Rasul.