Thursday, 28 February 2013

Kiram’s Sabah claim rejected

February 28, 2013
The Philippines president has told Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III not to 'hold gun to my head if you wish us to talk'.
MANILA: Malacanang Palace rejected the demand of Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III that the government settle the sultanate’s claim over Sabah with Malaysia before his followers would leave the island state, saying they are in no position to set conditions.
“You don’t hold a gun to my head and negotiate. That’s not the way decent people do negotiations. You want us to know your claim, you cooperate,” said presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda.
“The President has said, ‘Come back home, and we will talk.’ But you’re asking me to talk to you while there are people in Sabah – that there’s a possible outcome of violence. That’s not acceptable to us,” Lacierda said.
The Manila Standard quotes the Palace official as saying the primary concern of the government now is the welfare of 800,000 Filipinos in Malaysia who might be endangered because of the armed incursion of some 180 followers of Kiram, led by his brother Agbimuddin.
“Remember, this is not about Sabah. The President’s concern is about the welfare of the 800,000 Filipinos in Sabah,” he said.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario said Wednesday that the Philippines has asked Malaysia for another extension – its fourth such request — to its deadline for the Filipinos to leave the town of Lahad Datu in Sabah.
Del Rosario told the reporters that he already asked Malaysian Foreign Minister Anifah Aman to extend again its deadline to Tuesday next week, but had not heard back from him yet.
He described the situation in Lahad Datu as “quiet.”
While the government sought to convince the Filipinos in the town of Lahad Datu in Sabah to return, the police threatened to arrest any of them who came back with illegal firearms.
“Once they cross the boundary into the Philippines and they have illegal firearms, we will arrest them because they will be violating the law,” said Philippine National Police chief Alan Purisima.
He added that if Kiram condoned the use by his followers of undocumented firearms, he too would be liable under the law.
“If there is a violation we will file charges against him,” Purisima said.
Also on Wednesday, Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II urged Kiram’s followers in Sabah to avoid violence and surrender so as not to damage the country’s relations with Malaysia, which helped broker a peace agreement with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.
Earlier, Kiram said he has ordered his followers to remain in Sabah, even as he hinted openness to negotiating for a “win-win” solution to the claim and to the sultanate’s lease agreement with Malaysia.
“I have given the order to them that they have to stay put. We will leave as long as there is a (negotiated) arrangement made,” Kiram said in a television interview.
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Umno members among armed group?

STAR chairman Jeffrey Kitingan says he has also received reports that some of the armed men are holding dubious Malaysian documents.
KOTA KINABALU: The State Reform Party (STAR) wants the government to investigate claims that some of the more than 130 armed men currently surrounded by Malaysian security forces in Tanduo, Lahad Datu, are in fact Umno members.
STAR chairman, Jeffrey Kitingan, said he has received disturbing reports that these men could also be holding dubious Malaysian documents as many of them had been here in the past and had sometimes been living in the east coast of Sabah.
“I have been receiving reports that some of the armed foreign men currently holed up in Lahad Datu could be holding dubious Malaysian documents and, in fact, could be members of Umno or other Malaysian political parties,” Jeffrey said when met by FMT at his residence in Penampang last night.
He said the authorities including Umno must clarify the allegation so as to quash the rumours.
The group landed in Lahad Datu earlier this month and settled in an oil palm plantation near the Felda Sahabat area. A tense stand-off has since ensued between the group and Malaysian police as well as the army.
The group, which claimed to be a detachment of the Royal Sulu Army from the southern Philippines, is said to be armed with weapons that were already in the state, according to one of its leaders.
The police have formed a perimeter around the village and the army is on standby. Malaysian authorities have said they wished to give the “invaders” a chance to withdraw without bloodshed.
The latest deadline was yesterday.
Jeffrey, who has called for decisive action to end the siege in Tanduo, said: “We must instil confidence in public security and [ensure] that this country has not been infiltrated by enemies.”
He said he has also received reports that, besides women, there was also quite a number of old men in the armed group.
He said that members of the group could be holding dual citizenship, which is against the law in both Malaysia and the Philippines.
Jeffrey, who is also chairman of United Borneo Front (UBF), said the indecision by Malaysian authorities was putting the security of Malaysians and bona fide Sabahans at risk.
“Not that we will not defend ourselves but we do not want to go to war with our neighbours,” he said, adding that Sabahans are patriotic and ready to defend the sovereignty of Sabah.
“Sabahans do not accept excuses for letting our state be so vulnerable to rogue foreign incursions, more so by those who claim ownership to Sabah,” he added.
He also said that those who collaborated with the armed group that undermined the safety of the state must be dealt with at the ballot box in the coming general election.
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Wednesday, 27 February 2013

‘Invaders’ open to peaceful solution

February 27, 2013
Raja Muda Agbimuddin Kiram insists they would not leave Sabah until the issue has been resolved.
MANILA: The brother of Sultan of Sulu said his group in Lahad Datu town in Sabah was open to negotiate with the Malaysian government just to have a “peaceful” solution to the Sabah standoff.
“…so long as our rights will not be taken away from us,” Raja Muda Agbimuddin Kiram told Radyo Inquirer 990AM on Wednesday when asked if they were open to negotiations.
“We have to renegotiate in a peaceful way,” said Raja Muda, brother of Jamalul Kiram III.
Raja Muda said the standoff could be resolved peacefully “so long as there is no betrayal, so long as they are sincere with the negotiation.”
His statements came just a day after Sultan Jamalul rejected President Benigno Aquino III’s call to withdraw the armed group in the disputed land or “face the full force of the law.”
Raja Muda said they were ready to listen to the President and accept his views if they think these were right.
Unfortunately, the sultan’s brother did not agree with the President’s claim that they may have violated Philippine laws when they refused to leave the land.
“As President and chief executor of our laws, I have tasked an investigation into possible violations of laws by you, your followers, and collaborators engaged in this foolhardy act,” Aquino said Tuesday.
Raja Muda insisted that they would not leave Sabah until the issue has been resolved.
And if the Malaysian authorities were to use force to disarm his men, Raja Muda said they have no other choice but defend themselves.
Raja Muda said they came to Sabah not to make war especially with fellow Muslims in Malaysia.
“We come here…not to make war against them especially since we belong to the same religion,’ he said when asked what would be his message to the Malaysian government.
And to the residents of Sabah, Raja Muda’s message was: “We did not come here to die here but we come here to live with them, to stay with them to love each other and enjoy the income of Sabah together.”
He then called on their families in the Philippines and all Filipinos not only to extend them any help but also to show “sympathy” for them.
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Sulu Sultan: We won’t leave Sabah

February 26, 2013
The Sulu sultan ignores President Beningo Aquino's advice to stand down and says his followers will remain in Sabah.
MANILA: The heirs of the Sultan of Sulu and their followers are not going to leave Sabah despite a stern warning from President Aquino, a spokesman said Tuesday.
Abraham Idjirani, secretary general and spokesperson of the heirs to the sultanate, said Sultan Jamalul Kiram III was willing to be arrested if the Aquino government decides to file a case against the chieftain.
But Idjirani stressed that the “royal forces” of the Kirams did not intend to trigger a war when they started occupying the village of Tanduao in Lahad Datu in Sabah on Feb. 9.
“What we need now is a mutual understanding,” Idjirani said in a press briefing held at Kiram’s house in Taguig City.
“We welcome the statement of the President. It’s a development on the right track,” he added.
He said the decision of Kiram’s followers to stay in Sabah “is not a hardline stance.”
The President on Tuesday called on Kiram III to stand down and order his followers to come home “as soon as possible,” warning of “consequences of your actions” should they continue to refuse to leave Lahad Datu in Sabah.
“We have not yet reached the point of no return, but we are fast approaching that point,” said the President, apparently referring to the 48-hour extended deadline imposed by Malaysian authorities for the group led by Raja Muda Agbimuddin Kiram, brother of the sultan, to leave the village of Tanduao.
The deadline was to expire Tuesday.
Despite his appeal to the sultan and his followers, Aquino said they could face charges under Philippine laws for choosing to pursue their claim to Sabah using arms.
In fact, the President had already ordered Justice Secretary Leila de Lima to launch an investigation.
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Sabah’s Bisaya community on the ropes

Joseph Bingkasan
| February 27, 2013
The mainly Muslim Bisaya community looks to be next on the chopping block due to the tussles in Umno.
KOTA KINABALU: The coming general election and political machinations within the peninsula-based Umno are wreaking havoc on Sabah’s laid-back communities.
After various manoeuvring over the years saw the mainly Christian Kadazandusun and Murut indigenous community splintering into several political parties and factions, the mainly Muslim Bisaya community looks to be next on the chopping block.
The exit of Lajim Ukin, the chieftain of the Bisaya community in Sabah, from Umno last year after a long quarrel with Chief Minister Musa Aman broke into the open, had set the stage to erase whatever influence the powerful Beaufort MP has in his community.
A new man – Isnin Aliasnih – Lajim’s former No 2 is being groomed to take his place and possibly face-off with him for the Beaufort parliamentary constituency in the 13th general election that is around the corner.
Incumbent MP Lajim would be contesting under the PKR banner while Isnin, who took over as Beaufort Umno divisional head after the former’s resignation from the government last year, is expected to be Umno’s candidate.
It would be the second clash between the two after Isnin challenged Lajim for the post of Janang Gayuh (Paramount Leader) of the Bisaya community.
The Bisaya are an indigenous people from the north-west and coastline of Borneo. They are mostly concentrated near the Beaufort district, the river Padas in Sabah and along the Limbang River in Sarawak. The Bisaya living in Sabah are mostly Muslims and those in Sarawak are mainly Christians.
Lajim, the former federal deputy minister of housing and local government, retained his chieftainship which is on par with the Huguan Siou title held by Kadazan Dusun Cultural Association president Joseph Pairin Kitingan.
Isnin has already announced that he is prepared to face Lajim as he now also holds the influential post of Beaufort division Barisan Nasional leader which was previously held by the incumbent MP.
Since exiting from the ruling coalition in July last year, Lajim formed his own Sabah Reform Alliance, a pro-opposition body he put together to take on the Umno-led BN.
In the 2008 general election Lajim won the seat for BN polling 14,780 votes against PKR’s Lajim Md Yusof who garnered 3,866 votes. The seat was won unopposed by BN’s Azizah Mohd Dun in the 2004 election who is also a potential candidate for Umno in the constituency.
A hot seat
Beaufort has been considered a hot seat ever since Lajim, a popular figure in the district since his days in the Parti Bersatu Sabah government, resigned from Umno where he was a supreme council member, Beaufort Umno division head and by virtue the chairman of BN. He is considered a formidable opponent by other Umno leaders.
An indication of Lajim’s popularity was when he was challenged by Isnin for the Janang Gayuh position in the community in the 1990s when Lajim was still in PBS, which was then in the opposition at federal level. Despite Umno’s support, Isnin failed to unseat him as president of the Sabah United Bisaya Association.
Lajim claims that he “made” Isnin who he is now in Umno while his former second-in-command has countered by telling his supporters that Lajim had to rely on him when he was in the BN to win the election and get a high position in the government.
Isnin also claims that he gave way to Lajim to contest in the 2004 general election in the Klias constituency and it was he who was the BN candidate.
Hints of how crucial the seat is viewed by Umno came when earlier this month, Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak made it a point to visit the district to drum up support for his ruling coalition.
The prime minister even indirectly mocked the Bisaya leader saying that the opposition was “daydreaming” if they thought they could win Beaufort in the coming election.
Analysts however point out that Sabah Umno shot itself in the foot when its chairman, Musa, manoeuvred to sideline the independent-minded Lajim and place someone more to his liking in the district that his family hails from.
Isnin, a senior officer in the Infrastructure Development Ministry, was swiftly appointed by the Umno supreme council as acting chief of the Umno Beaufort division after Lajim quit the division along with 33 other division members.
Lajim himself has been criticised for helping in the fall of the elected PBS government in 1994 when he defected from the party after it won the state election by a razor-thin two-seat margin. His action opened a floodgate of defections from PBS to BN which led to the collapse of the Pairin-led PBS state government.
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Tug-of-war for leadership of Sabah NGO

Joseph Bingkasan
| February 20, 2013
The political spin on Sabah's Kadazan Dusun Murut Association Malaysia (KDM Malaysia) is threatening its continuity.
KOTA KINABALU: A tussle for control of an Umno-linked non-governmental organisation said to have been set up to champion the interests of the indigenous Kadazandusun and Murut community is threatening to further divide it.
The prize is the Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak-endorsed Kadazan Dusun Murut Association Malaysia (KDM Malaysia).
Businessmen Peter Anthony and John Ambrose are in a tug-of-war over who is its rightful leader.
Anthony has won the first and second rounds of the fight. His latest victory came after the High Court here upheld his appointment as its president following a challenge by Harry Ignatius Beatty, a member of the NGO who filed a suit seeking to declare his (Anthony’s) installation as null and void.
Justice Ravinthran N Paramaguru, in his judgment last month, allowed Anthony’s application to strike out Beatty’s writ of summons and statement of claim dated July 13 last year.
Beatty had argued in his suit that Anthony’s appointment which was made during the KDM Malaysia extraordinary general meeting (EGM) on March 28 last year was unlawful and that Ambrose, the founder of the association, was still the lawful and rightful president.
An earlier attempt to oust Anthony from the post was also thwarted by the Registrar of Societies (RoS) who declared in a letter dated Aug 7 last year that the association’s EGM and Annual General Meeting (AGM) the same year that endorsed Anthony’s leadership were held in compliance with the relevant provisions of the Societies Act.
Now Beatty faces the prospect of a RM1 million defamation suit by Anthony who claimed that the plaintiff’s action had caused him embarrassment and was “aimed at tarnishing his image and ruining his career”.
Meanwhile, Ambrose has not been sitting on his hands in the on-going tussle for the leadership of the NGO.
On Sep 3, last year he filed for a judicial review naming the ROS and Anthony as first and second respondent respectively.

Former Umno task force

The application was filed to quash the ROS decision, a declaration that no AGM in 2012 was ever conducted and, alternatively even if an AGM was held, the meeting was unlawful, null and void.
Ambrose, who heads the Penampang Umno division, is seeking a declaration that Anthony is not and never was the president of the KDM Malaysia.
He is also seeking for an injunction to restrain Anthony from undertaking any duty or action as president of KDM Malaysia, damages against both respondents, costs, statutory interest and any other relief deemed fit by the court.
The case had been scheduled by the same court to be heard before a different judge on March 5, this year.
KDM Malaysia was initially known as Umno KDM Task Force headed by Ambrose until several KDM leaders within the Barisan Nasional complained of its existence even though Najib had personally endorsed it.
Following the complaints, the NGO was renamed KDM Malaysia and registered with the ROS on Sept 8, 2011.
In a slap in the face for Sabah political parties and the powerful Kadazan Dusun Cultural Association helmed by Deputy Chief Minister and the community’s Huguan Siou (Paramount Chief) Joseph Pairin Kitingan, it’s backers said it was established to help uplift the KDM community irrespective of their religious faith.
The NGO’s declared objectives, among others, is to contribute effectively towards the social transformation in Sabah by focusing on educational programmes to help the rural KDM community and to champion and defend the interests, traditions, culture, establishment and survival of the community.
KDM Malaysia says it accepts membership from members of all political parties and anyone who has at least one grandparent from the KDM community can become a member.
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A sash doth not a Huguan Siou make

Joseph Bingkasan
| February 14, 2013
Bumburing defends both Anwar and the integrity of KDM elders.
KOTA KINABALU: A leader of the Kadazan-Dusun-Murut (KDM) community has called for sobriety in the polemics over a recent reference to Anwar Ibrahim as the “Huguan Siou of Malaysia”.
Tuaran MP Wilfred Mojilip Bumburing, who is a trustee of the Kadazan Dusun Cultural Association (KDCA), said neither had his community made Anwar its new supreme leader nor had the opposition leader usurped the position.
He lamented that the issue had been blown out of proportion.
He told FMT he was at last Sunday’s function where Anwar was decorated with a sash bearing the words “Huguan Siou Malaysia”. The function was organised by PKR’s division in Ranau.
He said there was no ceremony declaring Anwar as the Huguan Siou. If there had been any, he added, it would have amounted to an insult to the KDM community because the title could be bestowed only with the consent of the community’s elders.
But he said the organisers could have used the term “Huguan Siou Malaysia” to refer to someone who is a great leader of Malaysia. “In that sense, it does not relate directly to the KDM community.”
At the Sunday function, which was held in Kampung Paginatan, former KDM native chief Paulus Kimpuang presented a KDM headgear and sash to Anwar.
PKR Ranau chief Jonathan posted on Facebook photographs from the function that carried the caption “Anwar bestowed Huguan Siou in Paginatan”, causing an uproar in the KDM community.
Bumburing agreed with critics of Ranau PKR that the wording on the sash was inappropriate.
“The particular local leader may have been overzealous in showing his support to Anwar, who himself may not even have been aware of the wording on the sash as the inscription was never recited during the function,” he said.
“The local leaders could also have been overwhelmed by excitement, considering no national leader from Kuala Lumpur had ever visited Kampung Paginatan prior to this.”
He said he was confident that the PKR leadership in Ranau would offer its explanation of the controversy.
Meanwhile, a community leader from Penampang, Sylvester Disimon said the term ‘Huguan Siou’ was conceived by earlier community leaders, Michael Milip being one of them.
He was the one who coined the term ‘Huguan Siou’ and conferred that title on former Sabah chief minister Fuad Stephens who was then fighting for justice for the people of Sabah, particularly the KDMs.
“Now we have a person who is fighting for the Malaysians in general and in particular the Sabahans. It is only a word to describe a person who has shown great leadership qualities and capabilities … a leader who deserve to be known as a Paramount Leader in Malaysia, ” he added.
Disimon further pointed out that the words ‘Huguan Siou’ “means a leader who has no fear in leading his people like us Malaysians. Moreover, Paramount Leader or Huguan Siou should not be exclusive to the KDMs. Like ‘Allah’, it should not be exclusive” (to one group of people).
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