‘Sulu claims stay unrecognised’

Malaysia Agreement 1963 clear proof of Sabah’s position in federation, says Hajiji

KOTA KINABALU: The latest “custodial rights” claim by a southern Philippine group over Sabah is akin to questioning the state’s sovereignty, says Chief Minister Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor (pic).

Hajiji strongly rebuked the claim by the self-styled United Tausug Citizens (UTC) group, branding it a frivolous one.He said the group’s claim to be the “rightful custodians of the Sultanate of Sulu Territory” over Sabah is equivalent to questioning the state’s position in the Malaysian federation.

“It is clear that Sabah joined the federation of Malaysia with the blessing of the international community, including the United Nations.

“Sabahans have chosen to jointly form the Malaysia federation through the Malaysia Agreement 1963.

“Therefore, any external claim on the state of Sabah will not be recognised by the state government or the people,” he said in a statement yesterday.

Hajiji added that similar efforts by the self-proclaimed heirs of the defunct Sulu Sultanate had failed after the Madrid Criminal Court found arbitrator Dr Gonzalo Stampa, who ordered Malaysia to pay the heirs US$14.92bil (RM69.9bil) in “cession money”, guilty of contempt of court.

Stampa was sentenced to six months’ jail and suspended from practising for a year after he was found to have knowingly and blatantly disobeyed the clear ruling of the Madrid High Court of Justice, which ordered the annulment of his appointment as arbitrator.

Hajiji said the attempts by UTC and many other groups to claim Sabah was aimed at disrupting the state’s peace.“Their actions are tantamount to threatening the sovereignty of the nation,” he added.

UTC had asked the Malaysian government for an immediate payment of US$15bil (RM70.3bil) in what it dubbed as “cession money”.

The group also sought the recognition of UTC as a “sovereign and independent state kingdom”.

Reacting to the group’s claims, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Law and Institutional Reform) Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said said it is a “frivolous and baseless” attempt to claim sovereignty over Malaysian territory and to extort unfounded payments from Malaysia.

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