Philippine leader flays armed group claiming Malaysia’s Borneo island



AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE

Published — Friday 22 February 2013

Last update 22 February 2013 4:24 am

| نسخة PDF Print News | A A

MANILA: Philippine President Benigno Aquino on Thursday criticized Filipino gunmen who entered a Malaysian state in a bizarre effort to stake a territorial claim, warning their actions could lead to conflict.
Dozens of followers of a sultan from the southern Philippines sailed over to neighboring Sabah on the Malaysian part of Borneo island more than a week ago to assert their centuries-old claim over the area.
Malaysian authorities surrounded the group, which is believed to be made up of anywhere between 80 and 400 people, and a stand-off has since been in place while negotiations continue.
“Going there with arms is not the way to resolve this,” Aquino said in his first public comments on the issue. “When you brandish arms, naturally the other side has only one way to respond to such a challenge.”
Aquino said his government had been talking to all parties, including the sultan’s family, to find a peaceful solution.
Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario said separately that Aquino had ordered government authorities “to do everything possible to try and urge them... to peacefully withdraw and to do this as quickly as possible.”
The Sultanate of Sulu once controlled parts of Borneo, including the site of the stand-off, as well as southern Philippine islands.
The sultanate leased northern Borneo to Europeans in the 1870s. While the sultanate’s authority gradually faded as Western colonial powers exerted their influence over the region, it continued to receive lease payments for Sabah.
Heirs to the sultanate still receive nominal yearly compensation from Malaysia under a long-standing agreement. One of the demands from the gunmen is more compensation.
Estimates of the number of the armed men has varied. Last week, Malaysian Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein put the number at between 80 to 100 gunmen. But the sultan’s spokesman, Abraham Idjirani, said in Manila there were about 400 members of the group, including 20 with arms.
Idjirani said the sultan, Jamalul Kiram, who lives in a Manila suburb, gave the men the authority to reside in Sabah and they were determined to resist efforts to expel them.
The sultan’s men in Sabah were instructed not to fire first, Idjirani added. “But if the Malaysian military will attack us, we will be left with no choice but to defend ourselves,” he quoted Kiram as saying.

What's happening around Saudi Arabia

Arab News Editor in Chief Mohammed Fahad Al-Harthi hosted a banquet for editors in chief of local print and online publications, Shoura Council members, representative of the Ministry of Culture and Information, prominent writers and columnists in Je...
JEDDAH: Health workers from Riyadh’s National Guard hospital would not be allowed to perform Haj this year, or work at the holy sites, the Ministry of Health has announced.Hail Al-Abdali, head of the ministry’s infection control unit, was reportedly...
JEDDAH: The Minister of Municipal and Rural Affairs Abdul Lateef Al-Asheikh has introduced new legislative amendments to allow voters to produce a range of identity documents so that they can register for the upcoming elections.Al-Asheikh amended Art...
RIYADH: Construction on the multibillion-riyal Riyadh Metro is well under way with several giant drilling machines working overtime to ensure that underground tunnels for the project are completed on schedule.The Arriyadh Development Authority (ADA)...
JEDDAH: Officials from the Saudi Ministry of Haj have been holding meetings with their counterparts from Arab and South Asian nations in preparation for this year’s pilgrimage.Abdulrahman bin Ali Al-Nafei, assistant deputy minister of Haj and in char...
RIYADH: Four polling stations in Tabuk have stopped registering voters for the Dec. 12 municipal elections in the region.Ibrahim bin Ahmed Al-Ghabban, undersecretary at the Tabuk municipality and member of the local committee for the election of a mu...
JEDDAH: Many prospective candidates running for seats on the country’s municipal councils have been using Twitter to boost their election campaigns.Many have been using religious expressions in their messages, such as “In the name of God,” and “If He...
DAMMAM: There has been a flurry of activity on the Kingdom’s highways as service companies race to meet the Jan. 19 deadline for the revamp of dilapidated gas stations.The Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs has previously handed out rehabilitati...
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia and Germany have signed an agreement on mutual protection of classified information to provide a legal framework for enhanced cooperation in the defense sector. The pact was signed by Mohammed bin Abdullah Al-Aish, assistant mini...
JEDDAH: While Saudi Arabia has now arrested the main suspect in the 1996 bombing of the Alkhobar Towers residence at an American military base in the country, the hunt continues for three others, according to reports in the local media on Thursday.Ah...

Stay Connected

Facebook