Malaysia: At Least 26 Dead as Police Raid Sabah Siege

The three-week standoff involving a band of Filipino rebels who stormed a northern Borneo village has now claimed at least 26 lives

  • Share
  • Read Later
Bazuki Muhammad / REUTERS

The coffins of two Malaysian police commandos who were killed on March 1, 2013, in the standoff with armed followers of the sultanate of Sulu

Updated at 9:12 a.m on Tuesday.

Malaysian police on Tuesday morning raided the northern Borneo village stormed by a band of Filipino rebels in a bid to end a three-week standoff that had already claimed at least 26 lives. Two Malaysian commandos and a dozen members of the Royal Army of Sulu died in a previous police crackdown on the insurgent-held territory on Friday evening, with a further five Malaysian policemen ambushed and killed nearby the next day. Another seven insurgents were reportedly slain in a separate incident on Saturday. While most of the remaining Sulu militants refuse to budge, police fear that some are planning further strikes in the surrounding coastal regions. The turmoil is causing domestic upheaval for the two governments involved: Malaysia has general elections due before the end of June, while Philippine President Benigno Aquino III could face renewed strife on home soil after he appeared to sanction the foreign use of deadly force against his defiant countrymen.

The situation, which was at first greeted with raised eyebrows within the international community, has deteriorated rapidly. On Feb. 9, more than 100 followers of self-professed Sultan Jamalul Kiram III, from the autonomous island province of Sulu in the southwestern Philippines, landed in the Malaysian state of Sabah to press their historic claim to the land. They seized control of the village of Lahad Datu only to be surrounded by the Malaysian security forces. Aquino appealed for his compatriots to return home peacefully and even sent a navy ship staffed with Filipino-Muslim leaders, social workers and medical personnel to facilitate their withdrawal. However, he finally lost patience with the recalcitrant Sulu insurgents and said on Saturday that they must surrender “without conditions.” The rebels had previously snubbed two deadlines to vacate the land.

(MORE: Sabah Standoff: Diplomatic Drama After Filipino Militants Storm Malaysia)

The President’s uncompromising stance may have far-reaching consequences. Mohagher Iqbal, chief negotiator of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which signed a peace deal with Manila in October after four decades of armed struggle, has already admitted that their own peace talks have been affected. The Philippine media has also been critical of Aquino’s stance. “President Aquino and his officials were throwing to the Malaysian wolves Filipino Muslims digging in what they claimed was their legitimate homeland in Sabah,” says Rigoberto Tiglao in the Manila Times. “With that the president has driven the last nail on the coffin of the Philippine claim to Sabah,” read an editorial on Monday in the Philippine Daily Inquirer. “What he didn’t say to the sultan’s men was: If you get slaughtered by the Malaysians, that’s your fault. Condolences.”

Aquino used a televised speech on Monday evening to allege that “conspirators” were behind the standoff. “I am aware that certain personalities conspired and brought us to this situation — one that has no quick solution,” he said. However, observers believe the driving force behind the Sabah incursion was anger among Sulu rebels for being left out of Malaysia-brokered peace talks with the MILF. Mujahid Yusof Rawa, an MP for Malaysia’s opposition Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party, told TIME that the rebels are trying to get the Malaysian government’s attention. “There are a lot of Sulu dissidents who have moved to Sabah over the past 10 years — some of whom have been granted permanent residency — and their presence may complicate the matter,” he said. “I think the government is very wary of any backlash for the upcoming election.”

(PHOTOS: Flash Floods Kill More than a Thousand in Southern Philippines)

The situation has undoubtedly been hugely embarrassing for Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, who must call national polls by June. Opposition groups have highlighted lax border security and allegations that citizenship was possibly given to hundreds of thousands of illegal Filipino and Indonesian migrants in Sabah during the 1990s in exchange for their votes. Some of these immigrants, sympathetic to the Sulu rebels and angered by the Malaysian assault on Lahad Datu, may now form a substantial anti-incumbent bloc for the looming ballot.

Najib, however, is fighting back. The news website Malaysia Today reported on Wednesday that he asked the Malaysian intelligence to investigate whether the opposition camp was behind the Sabah incursion. Ong Ooi Heng, executive director of the Political Studies for Change, a Kuala Lumpur–based think-tank, told TIME that the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition could potentially use the Sabah incident to instill a climate of fear among the electorate. “All over the world, external threat is always seen as a useful strategy to foster nationalism, hence to unite the voters under one roof and benefit the ruling regime most of the time,” he said.

Philippine diplomatic officials on Sunday appealed to the Filipino-Malaysian community in Sabah to remain calm. Meanwhile, the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office on Sunday released a statement advising against travel to the area around Sabah’s eastern coastline. The Moro National Liberation Front — from which the MILF broke away in 1977 — has urged the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation and the U.N. to intervene between Kuala Lumpur and the sultanate of Sulu, while insisting that Aquino’s administration should not get involved. The dispute also spilled online over the weekend with a raft of Malaysian and Philippine websites hacked and vandalized by opposing factions. It remains to be seen whether the raid on Tuesday morning will mark the end of the standoff or if remaining armed militants roaming the Sabah coastline will continue to cause havoc in the coming days.

MORE: The U.S. and the Philippines, a Century Ago: Dashed Dreams of Empire

62 comments
mayaa3001
mayaa3001

Sabah is owned by more than 30 ethnic groups, who has chosen to joined Malaysia in 1963. and the rest is history. even before 1963, the real sultan sulu had given all his territories to spain, american and filipino govt. a sultan is raised above by the people, in sabah the people decided that there is no sultan. we Malaysian is highly expert in royalty affairs including organisation, governance and crowning of a sultan, because 9 of our states are headed by a sultan. So that so called sultan sulu, is totally fake and willing to sacrifice the life of tausug people to fight his personal grieve. Tausug may have forgotten, 4000 tausug were killed by sultan kiram 2 in the old days, by directing the americans to killed his own people. the royalty of sulu is not a legal organisation, nor they are rulling a country, an area or a kampung. it looks grand only in the internet, coz we can asses their virtual organisation but phisically they simply not exist. they dont even have an administration system, worstly more than 60 people claimed to be sultan sulu. wat a joke. tausug or suluk sabah/malaysia however, are well accepted and they are loyal malaysian. that fake sultan chose to intrude our country, and his so called army killed, beheaded, mutilated our police. you will be cursed by Allah becoz you are terrorising another muslim country. 3 weeks he was given time to withdraw but they killed our policeman. wat more you can say. Op daulat meant to defend every inch of malaysian land. Allah bless Malaysia and Sabah

Datu_Puti
Datu_Puti

CRIMES of MALAYSIA in South east ASIA:

1. Landgrabbing of SIPADAN and LIGITAN islands of their poor neighbour country INDONESIA.

2. Landgrabbing of SABAH Philippines from their fellow Muslim TAUSUG brothers.

3. Financiers of WAR in MINDANAO (supplying MNLF,MILF armaments from LIBYA)to wage against the Phil ippine government.(even giving NUR MISUARI honorary abode in MALAYSIA while being the most wanted man in the Philippines )—perhaps to hide the real issue that is --SABAH.

4. Caning, torture,documented rape by Malaysian police officials of women deportees.

5. No FREEDOM OF SPEECH.

6. Not paying the proper rent to the Sultan of SULU only 77,000 pesos monthly rental, while SABAH generates 10 Billion dollars in yearly GDP.

Datu_Puti
Datu_Puti

CRIMES of MALAYSIA in South east ASIA:

1. Landgrabbing of SIPADAN and LIGITAN islands of their poor neighbour country INDONESIA.

2. Landgrabbing of SABAH Philippines from their fellow Muslim TAUSUG brothers.

3. Financiers of WAR in MINDANAO (supplying MNLF,MILF armaments from LIBYA)to wage against the Phil ippine government.(even giving NUR MISUARI honorary abode in MALAYSIA while being the most wanted man in the Philippines )—perhaps to hide the real issue that is ---SABAH.

4. Caning, torture,documented rape by Malaysian police officials of women deportees.

5. No FREEDOM OF SPEECH.

6. Not paying the proper rent to the Sultan of SULU only 77,000 pesos monthly rental, while SABAH generates 10 Billion dollars in yearly GDP.

ramondy3
ramondy3 like.author.displayName 1 Like

then china must comply to leave Scarborough Shoal for Philippines..

PeaceForSabahan
PeaceForSabahan

Please leave Sabah to her people according to the Sabah native-cited from Malaysian website.

Please leave Sabah in peace

 

Dear claimants of the Sulu sultanate, the Philippine government and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF),

The Brunei sultanate was a colonising overlord on territories that now constitute Sabah, who gave some of that territory to another colonising overlord, the Sulu sultanate, who went into business with another colonising overlord, the British North Borneo Chartered Company, who then gave Sabah to the British Crown.

The people who lived in those territories that now make up the territory of Sabah were not asked on what they thought or how they felt about any of these power handovers. They did not have a referendum, nor cast a vote in the matter at all.

Sabah exercised her right to self-determination for the first time in her history by becoming her own sovereign and independent state on Aug 31, 1963, thus rejecting all previous overlords and colonisers. She then decided to join Sarawak and Malaya (and previously, Singapore as well) to form a new country called Malaysia on Sept 16, 1963.

Without Sabah, there would be no Malaysia.

The Sulu sultanate and the Philippines do not have a claim over Sabah because the people of Sabah have rejected them, and made a choice through the right of self-determination. This choice is reinstated at every general election, and every time we pay our Malaysian taxes.

Ask Sabahans what they think about the Philippines and the Sulu sultanate’s claim to Sabah. Sabah belongs to Sabahans. Please listen to the Sabahan voice.

I am sympathetic to the people of the Southern Philippines who desire to establish an autonomous zone for themselves. Peace in the Southern Philippines is also peace for Sabah. But you have no rights to claim anything but friendship from Sabah.

I give you my friendship. But right now, please take your warring colonialist attitude away. We do not want any more bloodshed.

Please leave Sabah in peace.

YEE I-LANN is a Sabahan artist.

Datu_Puti
Datu_Puti

who voted for independence?independent state on Aug 31, 1963, ?? malysian sent all sultanate men by caning...to southern phils

Datu_Puti
Datu_Puti

you deported all the sultanate men to southern philippines by caning... how can they vote?? you voted on your own??? who voted??? malysian langrabbers??? british???



 

Datu_Puti
Datu_Puti

you deported all the sultanate men to southern philippines by caning... how can they vote?? you voted on your own??? who voted??? malysian langrabbers??? british????

milan_gurl
milan_gurl

@PeaceForSabahan  Your argument is faulty at best. Though I do not agree with the Sultan of Sulu "raiding" Sabah, I firmly believe they are the rightful owners regardless of what people in Sabah think of it. This is real estate we're talking about - LAND. If this was an apartment building, and the Sultan of Sulu leased the building to a company, who then leased the units to multiple renters. DOES THE COMPANY HAVE THE RIGHT TO SELL THE BUILDING?????? What if the residents, like you say, rejected the owner of the building, and voted for self determination?? DOES THAT MEAN THEY NOW OWN THE BUILDING??????????? Are you nuts????? What planet do you live in??????? REGARDLESS OF WHAT YOU SABAHANS THINK OR FEEL, THAT IS NOT THE ISSUE. THE ISSUE IS LEGAL OWNERSHIP. I do hope they find a more peaceful matter in resolving this though. 

milan_gurl
milan_gurl

From Wikipedia:


"The North Borneo dispute is a territorial claim by the Philippines over much of the eastern part of Sabah in Malaysia. Sabah was known as North Borneo prior to the formation of the Malaysian federation in 1963. The Philippines, via the heritage of the Sultanate of Sulu, claim Sabah on the basis that Sabah was only leased to the British North Borneo Company with the sultanate's sovereignty never being relinquished.

This dispute stems from the difference in the interpretation used on an agreement signed between Sultanate of Sulu and the British commercial syndicate (Alfred Dent and Baron von Overback) in 1878, which stipulated that North Borneo was either ceded or leased (depending on translation used) to the British chartered company in return for payment of 5,000 dollars per year.

However, Malaysia views this dispute as a "non-issue", as it not only considers the agreement in 1878 as one of cession, but it also deems that the residents had exercised their act of self-determination when they voted to join the Malaysian federation in 1963.As reported by the Secretary-General of the United Nations, the independence of North Borneo was brought about as the result of the expressed wish of the majority of the people of the territory as supported by the findings of the Cobbold Commission.

Every year, the Malaysian Embassy in the Philippines issues a check in the amount of 5,300 ringgit (US$1710 or about 77,000 Philippine pesos) to the legal counsel of the heirs of the Sultan of Sulu. Malaysia considers the amount an annual “cession” payment for the disputed state, while the sultan’s descendants consider it “rent". The sultan's descendants demands that the payment be increased to 1Billiion USD in 2010, Malaysia has however ignored the issue."

- they're claiming it now by force, as there's an ongoing peace talks between the Philippine government and other muslim forces in the south. The current peace agreement does not include/address the issue of Sabah.

MyraDiphyto
MyraDiphyto

This is the big mess left behind by the infamous and now-senile Mahathir.

ashamed
ashamed like.author.displayName 1 Like

There are many Filipinos legal and illegally live in Sabah escaping from the poverty and instability in the Southern Philipines. Malaysians on the other side are so trustful and lacks in letting them to come  and live in the Malaysian State. This is indeed a very good lesson (a first one involving Muslim Filipinos I believe) for Malaysians and the government not to trust and giving in too much to foreigners including Muslims from Philipines. The world is full of so many opportunists waiting to take advantage of opportunity. It is good now that the real threats are exposed and the Malaysians just need to learn through the hard way.

Datu_Puti
Datu_Puti

this is because your government support the armed rebellion of mnlf against phil government.. even gave rebel leader nur misuari an honorary abode in malaysia by your minister....

Datu_Puti
Datu_Puti

Malaysia should pay the proper rent to the Sultan of Sulu

darth.sedius
darth.sedius

Malaysia should face PHL Government and the Sultan of sulo in the UN to resolve this centuries old issue? Why is malaysia so scared to face the sultan in the UN?

sayablade
sayablade

@darth.sediusscared? no way! are you telling me that we should tend to such ridiculous claim from a "sultanate" that possesses no sovereignty in neither Sabah or Philippines.. the claim itself is ridiculous, Sulu sultanate is a defunct entity and history in modern nation states of Malaysia and Philippines, with no clear heir whatsoever of the fallen throne. Sitting round a table with them would be the laugh stock of the modern world. If we do that then we also can intrude into Singapore to say that it's our previous territory, the Thais can invade Malaysia, China can get the whole south China sea, Japan can claim all of us!! as you see, UN will never attend to such ridiculous claim. Face reality already! what you filipinos are trying to do is to force 3 million people to accept your rule! Get real man Sabahans voted to join Malaysia, not by force like what you are doing right now!!! 

Datu_Puti
Datu_Puti

you voted for malaysia because all the sultanate people was deported back to the philipines.

cavin006
cavin006

No group of people are more savage and murderous than Christians. Hitler was Christian.. look at what he did. American was once populated with native Americans and buffalo etc now both are nearly extinct.. who slaughtered them from sea to shining sea?? the good white Christian that who.. not Muslims.. and nobody is my sexually abusive than Christians.. look at what your priest from all around the globe have been doing to little boys for crying out loud. or did you forget all that? @lbjacj

JonathanAnastacio
JonathanAnastacio

@cavin006  i beg to disagree cavin006. priests are not exactly the entire representation of the true image of Christianity. 

frostarrow7
frostarrow7

now we know Pnoy is the real terorist.

lbjack
lbjack

And Malaysia is supposed to be a showcase that proves false the perception of malignant, murderous, enslaving, oppressive, corrupt fascism masquerading as religion, called Islam.  Of course, Aquino sent them packing, to join their fellow Muslim savages.  Despite the despicable cultural and moral relativist idiots of the West -- academics and media, such as Time -- Muslims are the enemy not only of the civilized world, since Islam's founding by a mass murderer and child rapist, but the enemies of each other.  They are not that way because they are Muslims, they are Muslims because they are that way.  Their bloody behavior, on daily display by anyone who cares an honest look, is informed by hatred, resentment, greed and stupidity, and the sooner they kill themselves off, the better for the human race. 

cavin006
cavin006

@lbjack No group of people are more savage and murderous than Christians. Hitler was Christian.. look at what he did. American was once populated with native Americans and buffalo etc now both are nearly extinct.. who slaughtered them from sea to shining sea?? the good white Christian that who.. not Muslims.. and nobody is my sexually abusive than Christians.. look at what your priest from all around the globe have been doing to little boys for crying out loud. or did you forget all that? @lbjacj

Reconnomics
Reconnomics

The Sabah dilemma might be a good reason for Philippines and Malaysia to merge into one powerful state to counteract China's rise. Instead of seeing this as a problem, this could be an opportunity. Due to economies of scale, they will have larger market and a stronger national defense.

Datu_Puti
Datu_Puti

Malaysians are uneducated. Filipinos despises caning, hanging etc....

HJKumar
HJKumar

@Reconnomics China is Malayia's largest trading partner, while Philippines is a supplier of maids to Malaysia. Only idiot like you think that any country would want to be partner with you.

royroy2050
royroy2050 like.author.displayName 1 Like

Like the US supporting the Taliban against the Soviet in Afghanistan and then becoming their worst enemies years later, it's the same. Malaysia supported and armed Islamic separatists in the Philippines causing tremendous suffering and economic strain in the decades-long insurrection.

The lesson is beware of KARMA and never ever deal with terrorists.

bobaman
bobaman like.author.displayName 1 Like

Malaysia is not telling the truth. It was not an ambush or shootout in Sempora. It was a retaliation by enraged residents for the killing of an Imam ang his sons.

Idjirani said the “uprising” was triggered by the raid at 7:30 p.m. Saturday by Malaysian paramilitary forces on the home of Imam Maas, who was suspected to be harboring Alepiuya Kiram, a brother of Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III.

When the militia, belonging to the Malaysian Police General Operations Force, failed to find Alepiuya, they allegedly fired on the house, killing the imam and his four sons and wounding another village elder called Imam Jul in another house.

Idjirani said enraged residents then took to the streets, attacking the police and military headquarters in Semporna. The villagers captured a ranking police official, two military commanders and a civilian official of Sabah, Idjirani told a press conference at the sultan’s home in Taguig City yesterday.

Kiram reportedly told his brother, who is leading the uprising in Sabah, to “take care of the captives,” who will be presented before an international body “to answer for the killing of innocent people.”.

jonshlim
jonshlim

@bobaman

Sultan's daughter feeds media fake image of Malaysian casualties

The pirate fake sultan is a liar. Don't trust his source of news.

http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/photo/33470/sultan-s-daughter-feeds-media-fake-image-of-malaysian-casualties

Enough said.

Villagers killed an armed Suluk intruder.

http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2013/3/4/nation/12788489&sec=nation

LAHAD DATU: A group of villagers from Kampung Senallang Lama here killed the armed gunman who allegedly claimed the lives of six policemen.

They killed him while he was attempting to take them and other villagers hostage.

Sabah Police Commissioner Datuk Hamza Taib said the gunman involved in a shootout with security forces at Kampung Sri Jaya at the Simunul seaside settlement walked 7km along the coast to their village.

Armed with an M16 assault rifle and a grenade launcher, the man knocked on doors ordering the villagers to assemble in one area before marching them to the mosque at about 5am.

As they were walking, a group of youths pounced on the 60-year-old Suluk gunman, overpowering and then killing him, Hamza said.


ice163
ice163 like.author.displayName 1 Like

Just got one question: Why do Malaysia still pays "rent" to the Sultan of Sulu? Paying rent means the sultan still owns the place.

MarissaLin
MarissaLin

@ice163 Oh no, another rental victim. There are too many poor and starving Filippinos who got excited because some Kirimbodoh said he got rent. It's like a beggar seeing nasik lemak.

Datu_Puti
Datu_Puti

just what you did by landgrabbing SARAWAK indonesia.. to form MALAYSIAN estate.. but not SULU SULTAN they will not give up a fight...they are not tamed even decades of war against philippine army....

JonathanAnastacio
JonathanAnastacio

@HJKumar you better trace back the history of sabbah accurately and factually before you say anything bad about the claimants of sabbah. It's Philippines' Sabbah few decades back...


HJKumar
HJKumar

The entire world recognizes Sabah as a state in Malaysia. Look at any map on the Internet. No wonder Philippines is the sick man of Asia.

rizveran
rizveran like.author.displayName 1 Like

@MarissaLin @ice163oh no, another land grabber, hypocrite, glutonise malaysian pretending to be the owner of the land. Shame on you!!

soashamed
soashamed like.author.displayName 1 Like

This is a shameful act by the intruders from southern Philipines, an area full of troubles within the country. It is a disgrace for Philippines and her citizens.

Datu_Puti
Datu_Puti

disgrace?? but it is an honor for TAUSUG's to die for their country... this will be a civil war in your country same as what happened to mINDANAO in southern phils..

BStern4theCountry
BStern4theCountry

The southern Filipinos are known as bandits. Now the bandits are taking their own actions to intrude into another country's territory. Let them face their actions.

Datu_Puti
Datu_Puti

this is because MALAYSIA supported the MNLF rebellion wage war against the Phil government..--to hide the real issue that is SABAH... at the expense of your own brother moslems...

LuckyRockySy
LuckyRockySy like.author.displayName 1 Like

Give back Sabah to Philippines.

jonshlim
jonshlim

@LuckyRockySy Grant independence to BangsaMoro first

Sabah do not belong to suluk or tausug people alone.

bobaman
bobaman like.author.displayName 1 Like

Sabah do not belong to the Chinese immigrants

LuwianMemories
LuwianMemories

@bobaman 

Chinese are just 9.11% of Sabah's population according to 2010 census. The biggest ethnic group in Sabah are the Kadazan-Dusun, at 17.82%. Non-Chinese and non-Indians population (i.e. Bumiputra) make up almost 60% of Sabah's population. However, 27.81% of the population are non-Malaysian citizens (Filipino and Indonesians). I say the Malaysian government kick out all Filipinos who are found to be supporting or abetting the Sulu Sultan's armed gang.

BStern4theCountry
BStern4theCountry like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 2 Like

Malaysians should be stern- send back all economic migrant Filipinos in the country. Permanent Residents from Philipines should be stripped of their PR status in Malaysia when found assisting or supporting intruders. That includes newly minted citizens from Philipines, they too should be charged when found assisting or supporting the intruders as their loyalty still lies to their old country. All Malaysians should STAY VIGILANT and UNITED! They came to the country at Malaysians' generous hospitality and send money back to support their families. And in return Malaysians got this!!

Datu_Puti
Datu_Puti

that is because your government did not pay the proper rent to the sultan of sulu..you become greedy..

shaine
shaine

@BStern4theCountry i hope not all malaysians are as narrow and shallow minded as you. this is not malaysia vs philippines. get your facts straight before you post xenophobic crap.

JonathanAnastacio
JonathanAnastacio

@BStern4theCountry  be fair and don't be judgemental. remember there are also malaysians hanging around here in the philippines and you cetainly do not want them experience what you plan for filipinos staying in malaysia. right bstern?

rizveran
rizveran

@BStern4theCountry, go to your hypocrite, land grabbing government and cry out loud your position. we dont care...

HJKumar
HJKumar

@rizveran @BStern4theCountry You don't care because there is nothing you can do. Your President has already said he would side with Malaysia. The Sulu gang will be hanged in a matter of days.

Datu_Puti
Datu_Puti

backward malaysians.. hanging,caning raping filipina immigarnts.... expect decades of civil war agints what you call bandits and pirates of SULU....

rizveran
rizveran

@HJKumar : Yah you right, just like you as being mere citizen of the land we're living. Its all within the authority to act according what they believe is right regardless of the people feels about. Your right again, that the Suluans who are just intending to live in their ancestors land might be terminated but be careful as your PM has said, it will continue. Your government started the killings, so expect the worse from this unfortunate events.