Sabah 'claim': Govt won't back down in defending sovereignty, says Wan Junaidi

PETALING JAYA: There is no question of Sabah ever being ceded to the Philippines as Putrajaya will always defend Malaysia's territorial sovereignty, says Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar (pic).

Politicians in the Philippines calling for the reclamation of Sabah were just making a political issue of the situation and their government was not involved, he added in a statement on Thursday (Oct 13).

His statement was issued to clarify and expand on his Oct 6 reply in Parliament in respect of the ongoing dispute between the purported heirs to the defunct Sulu sultanate and the Malaysian government.

ALSO READ: Filipino senators calling for reclamation of Sabah a 'political issue', says Wan Junaidi

“To clarify, my answer (in Parliament, to Pakatan Harapan's Kota Kinabalu MP Chan Foong Hin) was in relation to whether or not there is any chance that Sabah could, as a result of the unlawful Paris arbitration award, become part of the Philippines.

“Let me say again that this is not possible," he said.

Wan Junaidi added that the Paris award of US$14.92bil was handed down by arbitrator Gonzalo Stampa on Feb 28 to the Sulu claimants, not to a government.

“When I said the Paris award was a result of ‘tuntutan peribadi’ (a private claim) it meant the claim was made by private individuals (the purported heirs) and not by the government of the Philippines.

ALSO READ: Incoming Upko chief urges strong response from Federal Govt after latest Sabah claim

“Further, when I stated that the Sulu claim and the Paris award had no connection with the question of sovereignty, the context was one of territorial sovereignty – that is, whether or not there was a chance Sabah could ever be handed over to the Philippines,” he said.

He described the Sulu claim as an attack on, and infringement of, Malaysia’s sovereign and economic interests abroad.

“The claimants are using the arbitration process, a private international legal mechanism, to attack Malaysia’s sovereign interests abroad.

"This is not only an abuse of process, it is also an assault (on us)," he said.

ALSO READ: Manila staying away from Sulu heirs’ arbitration claim against Malaysia

In the Dewan Rakyat last week, Chan had asked in a supplementary question about the calls by Filipino senators Francis Tolentino and Robinhood Padilla for their country to reclaim Sabah.

Chan had asked if the Philippine Ambassador to Malaysia had been summoned by Wisma Putra to explain the country’s official stance on the matter.

To this, Wan Junaidi said the two senators were just making a political issue.

Wisma Putra was aware of these claims and would only step in if the Philippine government became involved, he added.

ALSO READ: Sulu Sultanate suit: Time to get tough on frivolous claim

“We know what is going on there and we are monitoring... politicians there who are taking advantage of the situation, because these claims have never been dropped," he said during Ministerial Question Time.

He said the issue was supposed to be dropped during the rule of president Fidel Ramos from 1992-1998.

But it did not happen and the Sabah claim continues to be raised by politicians there from time to time, he noted.

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