MNLF eyes OIC filing on Sabah

The Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) will assist the Sulu Sultanate in its historic claim on Sabah by bringing it before the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).

The MNLF claims it has found the key or what is considered the “missing link” which is the original lease contract signed in 1878 that will bind the United Kingdom and Brunei to its obligations to the Sultanate of Sulu.

The agreement covers not only Sabah but also Sarawak, a Daily Tribune source said yesterday.

A Sultanate official, who requested anonymity, also revealed to the Daily Tribune that the copy of the original contract was stolen a year after the lease accord.

The source said a direct descendant of the Sulu Sultan who helped quell the rebellion in Brunei, holds the original lease contract written in Arabic among officials of the British North Borneo Company and Sulu Sultan Jamal Al Alam and a letter from English Queen Elizabeth II acknowledging the Sultanate’s proprietary right over Sabah.

“The documents and the blood line of the heirs will be the basis for the MNLF to elevating the case to the (OIC),” the source said.

Brunei leader relative

The Sultan of Sulu who was a cousin of the Brunei leader, sent 1,000 Tausug warriors, to help fight the rebels. The majority of the MNLF members under its chairman Nur Misuari are Tausugs.

The source said the heirs had coordinated with the Brunei Darussalam embassy in 2001 which required them to submit a statement of ascendancy to process their inheritance held in trust by the Brunei Sultanate.

An MNLF senior legal adviser declined to comment on the supposed missing link but he, however, confirmed that MNLF leaders are coordinating with the Sultanate of Sulu to help them pursue the claim on Sabah.

“Any move of the MNLF regarding the Sabah claim will be cleared with President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos before the case is submitted to the OIC,” he said.

The Sultanate, however, downplayed the so-called missing link saying that it was the Kirams who signed the agreement with the British North Borneo in 1878.

The Sultanate had reiterated its call to President Marcos to initiate the revival of government claim over the disputed territory of Sabah after the Malaysian government officially announced that it has stopped paying the yearly lease it inherited from the British colonial government in 1878.

The Sultanate said Malaysia is attempting to suppress the legal and historical rights of the heirs of the Sultanate by ignoring the contract of the British North Borneo Company and the Sultanate in 1878 allowing the British Company to occupy Sabah.

Long-held agreement

He said long before the creation of Malaysia, the Sultanate had been receiving the yearly lease equivalent to 5,300 Malaysian ringgit.

When the Federation of Malaysia was formed in 1963, the new government has continued the payment until 2012 before 200 armed members of the Sultanate army siege Lahad Lahad Datu that triggered running gun battle between Malaysian Security forces and Tausug warriors.

“Blood was already spilled by the heir in their ancestral land to dramatize the Sultanate historical and legal claim, the decision of Malaysia to cut off the payment is anti-Islam,” the official said.

He said no less than the British Session Court of North Borneo upheld the proprietary rights of the heirs of the Sultanate and appointed Datu Punjaman Kiram as the administrator of the estate of North Borneo since 1939.

Datu Punjaman was crowned as the 32nd Sultan of Sulu and North Borneo.

“The Macaskie judgement proved that no less than the British colonial ruler has recognized the right of the Sultanate over Sabah long before Malaysia became a nation,” he said.

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