KINABALU, August 30, 2016: The pledge by the Prime Minister "to defend
Sabah's sovereignty if (Philippines President) Duterte" meets him sounds
hollow when little is done by Malaysia to counter the continuous
propaganda churned out in the Philippines media justifying the Philippines
claim to Sabah.
If the 100 million people in Philippines genuinely believe that their
claim to Sabah is legitimate, then it is to be expected that the
Philippines claim to Sabah remains a permanent threat to Sabah. Is this
what the federal government want? There is a prevailing view that the
external threat to Sabah in the form of the Philippines claim to Sabah is
what the federal authorities use to make Sabahans believe that Sabah will
always be dependent on the federal government for protection.
This is a repeat of the 1962/63 pledge to defend Sabah to make Sabah agree
to the formation of Malaysia. But to defend Sabah against what? In fact,
it was the formation of Malaysia that triggered hostilities from both
Philippines and Indonesia.
A clear example of failures to secure Sabah's Eastern borders is the long
term curfew imposed in Esszone. Curfews are meant to be short term pain
killer pending restoration of law and order. But curfews, renewed every
two weeks, have been imposed for more than two years. The ban on barter
trade amounts to an open admission that the government is not able to
protect our centuries-old traditional maritime trade with neighbours. The
escalating costs of Esscom with no solution in sight to our security
concerns has led to dwindling confidence among the people.
This lack of confidence is compounded by the federal Attorney General who
confidently announced that he is appealing against the decision of the
Kota Kinabalu High Court in imposing a life imprisonment on nine Filipinos
convicted in the 2013 Lahad Datu intrusion case. The AG had said that the
government will appeal for them to be imposed the death sentence, or at
least on their leader.
Everybody knows that the leader of the Tanduo intrusion is already dead.
How can we appeal for a death sentence on someone who is already dead? In
any case, the leader, Agbimuddin Kiram, and his group had managed to
escape from Tanduo at the height of the dragnet put around Tanduo set up
by the navy, army and marine police. How he managed to get away in spite
of the extremely tight cordon remains a mystery. Until his death due to
illness in January last year in the Philippines, that leader and his
family were able to give public press conferences instigating the attacks
on Malaysia without any fear of reprisals from either the Philippines or
the Malaysian authorities or Interpol.
What is needed is not a hollow pledge by the PM but concrete actions to be
taken by the Malaysia and a concerted campaign by Malaysians, especially
Sabahans, to counter the Philippines claim on Sabah. Sadly, this is
something that is glaringly lacking.
Datuk Yong Teck Lee, ex-Chief Minister
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