By RUBEN SARIOnewsdesk@thestar.com.my
KOTA KINABALU: In an about-turn, the nine heirs to the Sulu Sultanate are dropping their claim on Sabah.
Individuals claiming to represent the “royal” family said they were now willing to surrender their rights to the state.
The nine “heirs” of the sultanate have been receiving a total annual “cession payment” of RM5,300 from the government since before independence.
Datu Omar Ali Datu Backtiyal told a local newspaper here that he had obtained the signatures of the nine heirs of the late Sultan Mohamat Jamal Al Alam agreeing to relinquish their claim last year.
He was now waiting for the Malaysian Government's response.
He said the nine heirs were among those named in a 1930s civil suit presided by the then Chief Justice of North Borneo CFC Macaskie. (Dayang Hadji Piandao Kiram of Jolo, Philippines and Eight Others vs the Government of North Borneo).
Datu Omar, a Malaysian, said he took the initiative to find a resolution to the sovereignty issue, adding that there were questions over why Malaysia was still making payments to the heirs of the sultanate.
Meanwhile, a representative of Rodinood Julaspi Kiram II who claims to be the closest heir to the Sulu sultanate, said he was also dropping the claim to Sabah. (Four years ago at his “crowning” as the Sultan of Sulu, Rodinood had demanded US$20bil (RM75bil then) as compensation from the Malaysian Government for him to drop the sultanate’s claim on Sabah.)
In a statement, Rodinood's “executive secretary and Keeper of the Royal Seal” Dato Seri Putra Eddy T. Sulaiman was quoted as saying that Rodinood had decided to drop the Sabah claim after considering “various implications.”
“What is important now is the establishment of good relations between the Sultanate of Sulu and Malaysia for their mutual benefit.
“I feel the Philippines government should also drop its longstanding claim on Sabah,” Eddy said.