Khamis, Mac 15, 2012


Semalam saya terserempak dengan Penasihat Sultan Sulu, Onn Ariffin yang merupakan suami kepada bekas menteri Sabah, Datuk Dayang Mahani Tun Ahmad Raffae. Saya sudah lama kenali Onn ketika bertugas di Sabah pada tahun 1989.

Ketika itu beliau adalah Pengarah Perhubungan USNO-Persekutuan. Beliau berasal dari Muar, Johor. Selepas bekerja di Sabah dengan USNO, beliau terus menetap di Sabah. Pada tahun 1997 saya terserempak dengan Onn di Malaysian Hall, London. Malam itu dia ajak kami menonton filem Jim Carrey yang turut ditonton oleh bekas Naib Ketua Pemuda UMNO Kemaman,Omar Aziz.

Pada Jun lepas saya terserempak dengan Onn di pejabat Sabah Times. Saya menemui Datuk Ayub Aman Pengerusi Sabah Times yang merupakan abang Ketua Menteri Sabah, Datuk Seri Musa Aman. Rupa-rupanya Onn rapat dengan Ayub ketika Ayub dalam USNO lagi.

Semalam Onn menceritakan peranannya sebagai Penasihat Sultan Sulu. Sultan Sulu sudah bersetuju menyelesaikan masalah tuntutan Filipina ke atas Sabah. Kata Onn, kerajaan Malaysia dan Filipina hendaklah duduk semeja dengan Sultan Sulu untuk menyelesaikan masalah ini. Onn telah menulis hal ini dalam blog RPK seperti mana berikut:-

The stance of the current Sultan, Kiram III, is to set aside all these historical issues and make a proposal for a resolution to the claim on Sabah by setting off from the current situation and to negotiate for a solution which will be of long-term political and economic benefits to both governments.

By Onn Ariffin
Special Advisor to His Royal Highness, Paduka Mahashari Maulana al Sultan Jamalul D. Kiram III ibni Al Marhum Sultan Punjungan Kiram Al Sultan Shariful Hashim, Sultan of Sulu.

In my previous statement on the matter of the 49-year-old Philippines’ claim on Sabah which was published in the Daily Express on June 21, I had indicated that the Philippines’ claim on Sabah arose out of the Power of Attorney issued by the 32nd Sultan of Sulu, Sultan Esmael Kiram, to claim Sabah on his behalf in 1962.

I also proposed that the problem be resolved once and for all by both governments (of Malaysia and the Philippines) giving the authority to the reigning heir of Sultan Esmael Kiram, His Royal Highness Paduka Mahashari Maulana al Sultan Jamalul D. Kiram III ibni Al Marhum Sultan Punjungan Kiram Al Sultan Shariful Hashim, to negotiate with both governments.


To have a clearer overview of the situation, we all need to be reminded that the long- standing dispute of who is right and wrong about whether North Borneo was ceded or leased to Britain remains unresolved, although the Phillipines’ side may claim legitimacy of their stance that North Borneo was leased based on the annual lease payment to the heirs of the Sultanate of Sulu.

There are also the contentious issue of Spain acquiring sovereignty over North Borneo in 1878 when it signed the protocol of March 7, 1885 with Germany and Great Britain recognizing Spanish sovereignty over “Jolo and its dependencies,” as well as the Macaskie Dictum of 1939, in which the heirs of Sultan Jamalul Kiram filed a suit case in the court of Borneo for the purpose of collecting the money due to them under the 1878 Grant.

We know that in the early 1970s civil war started in the southern Philippines which resulted in the outpouring of refugees to Sabah. The southern region’s instability, the rise of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), its breakaway group the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Abu Sayyaf, which collectively, influenced the creation of the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

Regardless of these developments, the southern region continues to face economic limitations which during the previous four decades have encouraged the migration of people from the region to Sabah, causing among others, the current prickly problem of illegal immigrants in Sabah.

The Sultan’s Proposal for Solution

The stance of the current Sultan, Kiram III, is to set aside all these historical issues and make a proposal for a resolution to the claim on Sabah by setting off from the current situation and to negotiate for a solution which will be of long-term political and economic benefits to both governments. In his sincerity to achieve this resolution, His Majesty Sultan Kiram III has taken some three important steps:

(1) He had undertaken to revoke, on September 4th, 1967, and September 17th, 1987 the services of the lawyer who was appointed to arbitrate in the matter between him with the Philippines and Malaysian government. This termination also in effect invalidated all proposals and action made by the Attorney Ulka T. Ulama for the heirs of the Sultanate. This has come into effect regardless of Ulama’s continues denial of the revocation and persistence of making representation to the Philippines government, pretending to still maintain the position of legal counsel to the Sultanate;

(2) He had revoked the Power of Attorney issued to the Philippine government to institute the claim on Sabah on behalf of the Sultanate. This action, therefore, reinstates the power to claim Sabah for the Sultanate, and no longer within the authority and jurisdiction of the Philippines’ central government; and

(3) He had sent a Letter of Offer, dated February 8, 2011, to negotiate on the claim over Sabah with the Malaysian government, through His Excellency Dato’ Seri Dr. Ibrahim Saad, Ambassador Plenipotentiary, the Malaysian Ambassador to the Philippines. Unfortunately, to date, the Malaysian government, or the Ambassador, is yet to respond.

His Majesty is making what we hereinafter refer to as the Kiram III Proposal, that he, on his sole authority, shall drops the claim on Sabah on the terms and conditions that the Malaysian government commits to a long-term program of participating in the development of Southern Philippines.

Rationales for the Proposal

The Kiram III Proposal for solution to the Sabah claim, is made on the sound rationales

1. The drop in the claim will remove the long-standing thorn in the flesh of the diplomatic relation between Malaysia and the Philippines;

2. Any further neglect, apathy and procrastination on the process towards a solution to the claim will only result in the continuance of the dilemma and the negative socio-economic impacts for both countries and for the region, or ASEAN and BIMP-EAGA in general;

3. The ensuing agreement for economic collaboration between Malaysia and the ARMM will open the restive region into a peaceful and progressive region because:
a. The MNLF and the MILF, given important roles in the development process of ARMM, will have little purpose in continuing with their militant struggles, and should lay down their arms and reap benefits in the bountiful promises of the development agenda of their land;
b. The region has a huge wealth of natural resources (fertile lands, pristine jungles, seas and a substantial oil reserve of 125 billion barrels in Southern Cebu) which collectively promises the explosion of numerous industries – aquaculture, agriculture, timber, tourism, oil exploration and processing, manufacturing, shipping, aviation, banking and finance, etc.

4. The annual lease payment made to the nine heirs of Kiram has become a cruel joke on the payees due to the ridiculous amount of RM5,000 (five thousand ringgits), the value of which had shrunk to almost nothing due to more than a century of inflation. This payment, while meaningless in terms of monetary value, is also an insult to the dignity of the payees, as well as a crafty method on the part of the Malaysian government to prolong, on the cheap, the status quo of the claim over Sabah;

5. With a drop in the claim followed by laying down of arms by militant groups and the development of the ARMM as a new region of rapid economic growth, the current migration of people from there to Sabah in search of more lucrative livelihood will cease, removing a four-decade socio-economic burden for Sabah;

6. The establishment of peace in the ARMM will pave the way to the creation of a new government which will be autonomous from the Philippines’ central government. In fact, a number of Philippines congressmen had espoused the establishment of a constitutional monarchy – on the same pattern as Malaysia’s system of government – and not a republic, for the ARMM.

Proposed Development Approach

His Majesty proposes that the South be developed by opening up opportunities for foreign direct investments (FDIs) to neighbors, with priority being offered to Malaysian government-link companies (GLCs), e.g. Malaysia’s Federal Land Development Agency (FELDA), Petronas, Maybank and CIMB Bank, Telekom, Tenaga Nasional Berhad, Sime Darby, Proton and Perodua, UMW and even the media giants, Astro and Media Prima.

These which can all be apportioned opportunities, roles, and lands for their ventures. Such a new opening FELDA will give Malaysia a greater leverage and competitive advantage in the regional and global palm oil production industry, in which Indonesia has made tremendous leaps ahead of Malaysia with the opening of new plantations in Kalimantan.

Petronas Carigali Sdn. Bhd. will of course be offered the priority to undertake oil extraction contracts in the area. The various other industries which will begin virtually from scratch will without doubt lead to a long-term economic boom, worth in the hundreds of billions of dollars.

The South will be a new center of vibrant economic activities, a region of prosperity and progress, which will be a total departure from
its militant past. At a time when the world is facing numerous economic challenges – with America predicted to fall under the weight of its national debt, with the Eurozone countries buckling under its debt crisis, with China rising as the new economic dragon – the South is without doubt set to become the new economic magnet to which economic giants will gravitate to reap its many bounties.

Such a development will not only bring prosperity and peace to the South but will also create a new trend for a more progressive ASEAN as well as the revival and the expansion of the BIMP-EAGA which aims to increase trade, tourism and investments with and outside the sub-region by (1) Facilitating the free movement of people, goods, and services, (2) Making the best use of common infrastructure and natural resources, and (3) Taking the fullest advantage of economic complementation.

With Malaysia’s leading role sealed in the proposed Agreement for the Drop on the Philippines’ Claim on Sabah, there is no reason why Malaysia would hesitate on the Kiram III Proposal knowing the tremendous win-win result of such an historic agreement. We urge therefore that the Malaysian’s ambassador to the Philippines responds positively to pave the way for initial discussions on the matter, all for the sake of a mutual long-term and incalculable socio-economic benefits.