A Solution for Sabah

A pundit who should know better asks in his column: If Malaysia owns Sabah, why does it pay rent to the Sulu sultanate? That’s because Malaysia recognizes the proprietary rights of the sultanate to Sabah. If a person has a private property in another country, that person has a right to some economic benefit from its use. But Malaysia reserves for itself the right of sovereignty — the right to govern Sabah.

To those who say that the sultanate of Sulu doesn’t exist, the government of Malaysia is too intelligent to pay rent to an imaginary sultanate. The Philippine foreign secretary isn’t so stupid as to apologize for a misplaced letter to a figment of the imagination. The sultanate is poor and might have made a tragic mistake in breaking Malaysian law by sending its people to settle in Sabah. But it exists.

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The Sulu-Sabah Saga

Jamalul Kiram III, Sultan of Sulu, in the southern Philippines, is in Manila ailing and undergoing dialysis. Meanwhile hundreds of his followers are lying low in the village of Tanduao in Lahad Datu in Sabah, Malaysia. Having arrived there by swift boats, they intend to stay there for keeps, unless the sultan recalls them.

Sabah once clearly belonged to the Sultanate of Sulu. To the sultan and his followers, that has not changed. The government of Malaysia isn’t amused. In defense of its sovereignty over Sabah it would deport the “intruders” from Sulu, using armed force if needed.

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