News / Asia

Malaysia, Philippines Try to Defuse Tensions

Abraham Idjirani, spokesman for the Sultanate of Sulu, points at a map of Borneo's eastern Sabah state as he talks to reporters in suburban Taguig, south of Manila, Philippines, March 5, 2013.Abraham Idjirani, spokesman for the Sultanate of Sulu, points at a map of Borneo's eastern Sabah state as he talks to reporters in suburban Taguig, south of Manila, Philippines, March 5, 2013.
x
Abraham Idjirani, spokesman for the Sultanate of Sulu, points at a map of Borneo's eastern Sabah state as he talks to reporters in suburban Taguig, south of Manila, Philippines, March 5, 2013.
Abraham Idjirani, spokesman for the Sultanate of Sulu, points at a map of Borneo's eastern Sabah state as he talks to reporters in suburban Taguig, south of Manila, Philippines, March 5, 2013.
Simone Orendain
When a group of more than 200 Filipinos entered a town in eastern Malaysia last month to reassert their centuries-old claim to the province of Sabah, it triggered a standoff that evolved into a military operation.  So far, Malaysian authorities say 66 people have died in the fighting. 

Since the start of the crisis, Malaysia has been calling on followers of the Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo to surrender unconditionally.  But the group loyal to the self-proclaimed sultan, Jamalul Kiram the third has refused to disarm. 

They demanded talks with the Malaysian government to try to charge more for the yearly token payment they have received for Sabah since 1963, when Malaysia became independent of Britain.

The sultanate’s policy advisor, Almarim Centi Tillah says the increase is secondary to their main complaint.

"Malaysia has prospered [in] leaps and bounds, benefited [in] leaps and bounds out of our property.  And you know in Islam… you cannot own the property of another Muslim unless it’s given to you," said Tillah.

Malaysia has continuously said that it owns Sabah, which has fertile ground for palm oil plantations.  The country cites a favorable International Court of Justice 2002 ruling on its claims to islands off Sabah.

The Philippine government also has repeatedly called for the Kiram group to return or disarm.  It's military and police are securing the small island provinces near Sabah to try to keep more followers from entering Sabah and intercept them as they leave. 

The fighting has so far displaced about 1,500 of the roughly 800,000 Filipinos who live and work in Sabah.  And Manila has appealed to Kuala Lumpur to keep its remaining citizens out of the fray.  The Philippine government is monitoring human rights complaints of displaced Filipinos who fled Sabah.

Rommel Banlaoi, who heads the Philippine Institute for Peace, Violence and Terrorism Research, says the two countries have to tread very carefully. 

"They’ll want to make the situation better because if this situation will deteriorate, the consequences on regional security will be very, very costly.  So we [would] be facing another flashpoint," he said.

Banlaoi says the two countries along with eight others in the region all entered into an agreement to set aside competing claims when forming the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in 1967.  He says earlier attempts to form a similar coalition failed because of the Sabah issue and other territorial rifts.

"They don’t want to raise the territorial conflicts to affect ASEAN solidarity otherwise Southeast Asia will crumble," he said.

Malaysia is the Philippines third largest trade partner in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and for 10 years it has held the role of facilitator in the Philippine government’s peace negotiations with the largest Muslim rebel group.  The two sides signed a preliminary peace agreement in October while Malaysia’s prime minister and facilitator looked on.

Meantime, the Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo policy advisor, Almarim Tillah says the group is looking to outside bodies such as ASEAN and the United Nations to raise their claim.

You May Like

Lion Cecil's Killing Sparks 'Canned Hunting' Debate in S. Africa

Conservationists believe incident, which triggered worldwide outrage, will reshape debate about practice in which hunters are allowed to target animals bred for hunting More

Taliban's New Leader Says Jihad Will Continue

Top US Afghan diplomat also meets with Pakistani, Afghan officials following news of Mullah Omar's death More

Environmentalists Issue Warning on Mekong Biodiversity

Scientists say decades of economic development, hydropower-dam construction, lax law enforcement and trafficking have taken their toll More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Roperto O. Toga from: Cotabato City
March 15, 2013 10:07 PM
It can be defused only when Sabah be given back to the Sultanate of Sulu and Malaysia shall have paid the loses of Mindanao revolution which she orchestrated and stoke that lost more 100,000 lives and tremendous destructions of properties.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missionsi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
July 30, 2015 8:59 PM
Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.

VOA Blogs