Spooky uncertainties await Sabah

  • One Man's Meat
  • Saturday, 14 Sep 2019

AT first glance, a viral 1.53-minute video spooking Sabahans looked like a prank or a poorly produced movie.

The scene was shot at night in an unknown jungle location.

A man in a black shirt and jeans held the hand of a woman wearing a white wedding dress and a matching veil. The woman, speaking in Tausug, told him, “you don’t have to hold me, I will not run away”.

On her left was a freshly dug shallow grave.

Facing the woman with his back to the camera, another man, wearing a football jersey and red shorts, took a pistol from a man not captured in the video recording.

He pointed it at her and pressed the trigger.

Click! Nothing happened.

The man handed the weapon to the unseen man on the left of the camera. Off-camera, he could be heard releasing the safety catch. He passed the pistol to the shooter.

The man pointed the pistol at the woman. He squeezed the trigger.

Again, it failed to fire.

He passed the weapon to the unseen man. The sound of the safety catch being released could be heard.

He returned it to the shooter.

He aimed it at the woman. He pulled the trigger.


The bullet hit the woman’s left chest. He pulled the trigger again.


The bullet hit her left chest again.

The woman slumped. The man, who was grasping her right hand, shoved her into the grave.

On the right of the camera, a man wearing a blue “undi BN” (vote Barisan National) T-shirt appeared. He peeked at the woman.

The video ended with a shot of the woman gasping in the shallow grave.

A search on Facebook revealed that the video was shot on Jolo island in the southern Philippines.

I asked my contacts in Jolo about the video. Many said it was authentic; some said it was fake.

What most agreed on was the story behind the video – the woman had returned to Jolo island after working in Saudi Arabia.

Back in her community, there was an accusation that she had committed adultery overseas. Her husband, who is allegedly a criminal, believed the slander. He decided to punish her alleged sexual betrayal by killing her.

Before you kill me, she told him, allow me to wear the wedding dress I wore during our wedding and let me solat (pray).

There are two videos showing her praying in a bamboo house and the man in a black shirt and jeans leading the woman to her death.

On Facebook, a Sabahan posted a message that the woman’s family had put a bounty on the husband’s head, and he was on the run in Sabah.

A check with police sources revealed that the information was highly speculative.

Some information on Facebook about the spooky video was also not credible.

For example, some speculated that the killing was done in Sabah because the man was wearing a blue BN T-shirt.

I’ve been to Jolo island several times since 2000. Many Malaysians know it as the cross-border kidnap capital of the Philippines where victims kidnapped in the east coast of Sabah are held.

It is quite common to see Sabah political party T-shirts worn by locals. They, I thought, were the phantom voters who Parti Bersatu Sabah alleged nearly cost them their win in the 1994 Sabah polls.

Many there live in two worlds – restive, poverty-stricken Jolo and peaceful, prosperous Sabah.

In 2013, I met a policeman in Jolo town, the capital of Sulu.

“When I was in Sabah, the police there rotan (caned) me for staying illegally in the state,” he said in Bahasa Malaysia with a Sabah accent.

What an irony, I thought. In my state, he’s an outlaw while in his province, he’s the law.

The spooky video came at an interesting time.

Sabahans are passionately debating the wisdom of the government’s decision to issue temporary passes to some 600,000 immigrants living for decades in Sabah.

They comprise holders of IMM13 issued to Filipino refugees who fled to Sabah in the 1970s, economic migrants who were given Burung-Burung cards in the 1980s, and those who registered under the Federal Special Task Force Banci (census) cards in the 1990s.

Some ori (original) Sabahans are suspicious that the move will legitimise illegal immigrants (photocopy Sabahans) from the southern Philippines.

The other big news concerning my state is the Philippine Foreign Affairs secretary’s reaffirmation of the Philippines’ claim over Sabah.

When some Sabahans put the news – temporary passes for Filipinos and Manila’s Sabah claim – together, they see their state in grave danger. The enemies (600,000 and more) are already in the state. They worry it will be a Filipino reverse takeover of Sabah.

In some ways, the fates of Sabah and Jolo are entwined.

For example, the Filipino refugees fled Jolo in the 1970s because their island was the theatre of a buffer war between Malaysia and the Philippines.

The Philippines then-President Ferdinand Marcos wanted to make his country’s Sabah claim into a reality. Malaysia’s proxy against the Manila was the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).

Another example of how Jolo and Sabah are entwined is the woman in the viral video.

On Facebook pages where it was shared, some Sabahans, who are Suluk (the community is known as Tausug in the Philippines), claim to have a relative in Jolo who knows the woman.

Like the supposed killing of the woman in a white wedding dress, the temporary passes for illegals and Sabah claim are spooking ori Sabahans.
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