AFTER its Royal Forces occupied a portion of the disputed Sabah that resulted to a standoff, the Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo on Friday expressed willingness to negotiate with the Malaysian government.
Newly installed Sultan Esmail Kiram 2nd has approved the recommendation of the Advisory Council of the Sultanate to push for a peaceful and civilized resolution of the Sabah claim.
“Today, I have approved the recommendation of the Council to resolve the Sabah issue in a civilized and peaceful manner, which recommendation is also sanctioned by the Ulama Council of Mindanao,” Kiram said in a press briefing.
As an initial step, he directed the chairman of the council to form and create a negotiating panel preparatory to the formal negotiation of the territorial dispute between the Sultanate of Sulu and the Federation of Malaysia.
The membership of the panel will be announced by the Sultanate on the next few days.
When asked if a government official will be part of the negotiating panel, the Sultanate said it is no longer necessary since they are claiming a private property and not duly owned by the government.
Kiram also ordered the legal panel of the Sultanate and its international legal experts to prepare the legal groundwork and conduct inventory of legal and historical documents to prove its legal and historical rights over Sabah.
He likewise urged the Philippine government to support the case of the Sultanate to be filed before the International Court of Justice and other international tribunals cognizant of the case.
Kiram said the move is only part of the Sultanate’s “New Year’s resolution to repossess Sabah through peaceful means.”
Sultanate Secretary General Abraham Idjirani said “the entire supporters of the sultanate support the sultan’s desire to reposess Sabah.
He likewise expressed hope that the President Benigno Aquino 3rd will support the sultanate as the “issue involves the interests of the Philippines, the sultanate, and Malaysia.”
More than 200 Royal Security Force (RSF) members headed by Rajah Muda Agbimuddin Kiram, younger brother of the reigning sultan, occupied a portion of Kampung Tanduo, Lahad Datu in Sabah on February 9 last year.
When they were discovered by Sabah authorities, they were asked to withdraw and return to Tawi-Tawi, Mindanao, but they resisted that resulted to a standoff.
A shooting war erupted on March 1, 2013 that led to the launching of an all-out war by the Malaysian Security Forces against the Sultanate’s forces.
The Malaysian government had filed rebellion and terrorism charges against those captured, one of them the son of Sultan, who has denied participation in the standoff.
RITCHIE A. HORARIO