Twice rejected, ex-Sabah CM Shafie now bids for special assembly sitting on Sulu claim

Malay Mail
Malay Mail

KOTA KINABALU, July 21 — Parti Warisan president Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal will seek a special state assembly sitting on the threat of the defunct Sulu sultanate’s claim on Sabah, after his two previous motions for discussions were rejected.

The former chief minister said discussions were both necessary and urgent as the claim involved the country’s sovereignty and security, and to avoid another possible incursion into Sabah as occurred in Lahad Datu almost a decade ago.

“I will submit a request for a special sitting. It cannot be that the motion was denied on Monday, therefore denied again today.

“What happens if another intrusion like Tanduo happens again? Then will they send their security assets from the Peninsula? Or helicopters from Labuan? It’s quite a distance away, and there are no helicopters in Semporna, Lahad Datu or Tawau...” he said at a press conference at the party’s office in Kolombong here today.

Shafie has insisted on discussing the matter at the state assembly, saying it was a potential matter of life of death and the question of leaking state secrets does not apply if the country was on the right side of the law.

Shafie said he was unhappy with the decision and saw no reason not to bring it up for discussion.

“What are we so afraid of revealing? The law clearly states that Sabah is a part of Malaysia, an agreement approved by the United Kingdom and recognised by the United Nations,” he said, adding that the Sulu Sultanate is also no longer officially recognised in the Philippines.

“In Philippines, they discuss this claim in their House of Congress, in forums,” he said, adding that the discussion did not give legitimacy to the claims.

Earlier today, Sabah Speaker Datuk Kadzim Yahya rejected Shafie’s request to debate the motion again, citing Section 23A(2) of the House Standing Order does not allow a motion that was previously dismissed be brought up for tabling.

The decades-long controversial issue came to light again earlier this year when a Spanish arbitration court awarded the purported Sulu heirs at least RM62.59 billion for compensation for land in Sabah, which they claimed their ancestor had leased to a British trading company in 1878.

The arbitration was initiated by the purported heirs and “successors” of Sultan Jamalul Kiram II against the Malaysian government through international arbitration proceedings.

While Malaysia had refused to acknowledge the ruling, it was reported that two Petronas Luxembourg-registered subsidiaries, reportedly valued at about RM8.87 billion, were seized pursuant to the arbitration.

On July 12, the Paris Court of Appeal allowed the Malaysian government’s application to stay the enforcement of the final award on claims by the Sulu parties.