Da Coconut Repablik

A Chronicle of the Da Pinoys and Da Coconut Repablik of Da Pilipins

Da Pinoy Chronicle: The Sabah Delusion

War is sweet for those who do not know it

Desiderius Erasmus

I love war films, reading about military equipment, strategy, tactics, history and the famous generals who shaped the history of warfare. Warfare is morally evil said by many, but many also choose to become hypocrites when it breaks out in their respective countries. I am talking Clausewitz’ classic perception of war where it only involves nation states rather than entities or organisations. Why? Because our topic today is not about the current insurgencies, but a territorial dispute.

War, love it or hate it has partly contributed to the development of the human race in general. You know that the current jets, microwaves and other materials are partly products of war. I am not a pacifist, as pacifists are over idealistic to stop conflict. War is an integral part of humans and we can blame human nature for that. Unless humanity will not unite for the future and set aside their petty conflicts, war will still play an important role for us.

Now, the Philippine war hawks especially the ones called the Royal Army of the Sultanate of Sulu are ready for war by invading a small village. A news article from The Economist will explain the current situation:

AS AMPHIBIOUS assaults go, the invasion of the Malaysian state of Sabah by the self-styled Royal Army of the Sultanate of Sulu on February 11th is admittedly tame. Scores of men, many heavily armed, came ashore from motorboats that had brought them from the Philippines, an hour away, where they and the sultan of Sulu are citizens. Without firing a shot, they occupied a sleepy village. There they announced that they had come to enforce the sultan’s claim to Sabah.

At first the Malaysian security forces suspected the intruders were Islamist militants (the Philippines has plenty such people in its southernmost islands). They swiftly surrounded the village. Negotiations ensued.

Malaysian officials informed the Filipinos that they had entered Sabah illegally and would be deported. The men refused to go, and as The Economist went to press were still there. The Philippine government was taken aback. It denied any hand in the incursion and asked for the safe return of its citizens.

To understand what it is all about, go back to 1658. Then the sultan of Brunei gave Sabah, in what is now the Malaysian portion of the France-sized island of Borneo, to the sultan of Sulu, who ruled a part of what is now the Philippines. In 1878 the sultan of Sulu leased Sabah in perpetuity to the British North Borneo Company. In 1946 the company ceded control of Sabah to Britain. Eleven years later, the sultan declared the lease void. But Sabah opted to become part of Malaysia when it gained independence in 1963. The sultan subsequently assigned his Sabah claim to the Philippines. Malaysia still pays him a token rent.

Some Filipino Muslims regard with nostalgia the heyday of the sultanate of Sulu—a time before colonial rule first by Spain, then by America, and latterly by the Christian majority in an independent Philippines.

The sultan, Jamalul Kiram III (there is also another claimant), is now a merely symbolic figure. His claim to Sabah is a romantic fantasy, yet one that grips the imagination of those hoping for another golden era.

It was the Philippine government’s betrayal in 1968 of a plot to pursue the claim to Sabah by force of arms that provoked the rebellion by Muslims seeking independence for their heartland in Mindanao in the south of the country.

The rebellion persisted for more than four decades, costing tens of thousands of lives. But last October the government and the main rebel group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), signed a preliminary agreement to give Muslim areas greater autonomy in exchange for peace. The agreement was brokered by Malaysia.

The Philippine government suspects that the incursion into Sabah is a plot to wreck the peace agreement. A representative of the sultan denies this was the purpose. But the sultan himself says he is upset at being excluded from the process. Suspicion also falls on another Muslim rebel group, the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).

It made peace in 1998, but many of its fighters were never disarmed. A spokesman, while expressing support for the sultan’s claim, denies that the MNLF had a hand in the Sabah affair. However, its chairman, Nur Misuari, has frequently complained that the peace agreement between the government and the MILF has pushed his organisation to the margins.

The incursion clearly embarrassed the Philippine government in Manila. It has never renounced the claim to Sabah bequeathed to it by the sultanate. But it has let the claim lie dormant while Malaysia intercedes to bring about peace with the MILF. The Philippine and Malaysian governments are unlikely to be deterred by what seems to be an armed publicity stunt.

They have a common interest in ending the Muslim separatist rebellion in the Philippines in case it once again descends into militancy. The Philippines remains awash with Muslim armed groups: the MILF, the MNLF, Abu Sayyaf, myriad criminal gangs—and now the Royal Army of the Sultanate of Sulu. Militants will be difficult to root out from an environment so disorderly that some have the nerve to try invading another country.

The Sultan has likely gave the blessing to his army to invade a tiny village in Sabah. He even decreed that they will stay. Another reason is also the succession dispute. There are several false pretenders to the throne and the Sultan might plan to use the event in order to prove that he is the legitimate Sultan.

The militants have also declared that they will fight to the death. An Inquirer article had revealed that His Majesty’s involvement in Sabah is highly likely. The Sultan’s own brother leads the Army.

Sulu’s royal army stays in Sabah.

And it stays there until Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III decrees that the army, led by his brother, pull out of the eastern Malaysian state.

So said Jamalul’s wife, Princess Fatima Cecilia Kiram on Friday.

The royal family also now wants to elevate the Sultanate of Sulu’s claim to Sabah to the United Nations and to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to finally settle the dispute, Fatima said at a press conference at the Blue Mosque in Maharlika Village in Taguig City.

For the first time since the standoff in Lahad Datu, Sabah, Sulu’s royal family led by Jamalul himself, his wife, and younger brother, Sultan Esmail, made a public appearance with a handful of followers to talk about the standoff and the Sabah claim as Malaysia’s Friday deadline for the sultan’s followers to leave Sabah expired.

While there was nothing royal at all in the rundown room with worn-out tables where the press conference was held, Jamalul Kiram and his family pressed for the ownership of Sabah by what their followers called “relying on a historical truth.”

Looking old and frail, Jamalul said he had a difficult time talking and thus designated his wife, who was seated to his left, to be his spokesperson.

Fatima said her husband’s “decree for his brother and his Rayak  (royal decree) to go to Sabah and stay put peacefully” was a product of a consultation among his council, his army, and the family members.

 

Muslim brotherhood

She said she was confident that there would be no bloodshed in Lahad Datu, where over 300 members of the Royal Security Forces of the Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo led by the sultan’s brother, Rajah Mudah Agbimuddin Kiram, were holed up.

“I am depending on our brotherhood… We are Muslim. They are Muslim. It is far beyond my imagination that there will be trouble,” Fatima said.

The royal family’s supporters also called for “restraint on both sides to deescalate the tension.”

The royal family, Fatima said, wants to negotiate and have a dialogue with Malaysia about Sabah.

Fatima confirmed reports that the royal family was hurt by the seeming dismissive attitude of President Aquino toward the Sabah claim when he said that it was a “dormant issue.”

Wrong advice

Fatima said Mr. Aquino could have been given the wrong advice, the reason that the family welcomed the President’s announcement of a Cabinet study of the Sabah claim.

“We have the highest respect for the President and we honor his words… On behalf of the Sultanate of Sulu, we wish to thank President Aquino for looking into the problem… our claim of our ancestral domain, Sabah,” Fatima said, adding that the family wants to assist the government in doing the study.

“We want to help the government by sharing what (documents) we have so that they can study and support this claim for a win-win solution between our brother Muslims in Malaysia and the Sultanate of Sulu,” Fatima said.

She confirmed that Malacañang had sent emissaries to talk to their family about the presence of their followers in Sabah.

Fatima said those dispatched by the Palace to talk to them were government peace panel chair Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, National Security Adviser Cesar Garcia, Presidential Adviser on Political Affairs Ronald Llamas, ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman, and two others.

But the royal family’s supporters are less convivial toward the President.

Unsolicited advice

Reading from a statement, Abdurahman Amin, lead convenor of the Kiram family’s consultation with their followers, said the Muslim community all over the country was “deeply concerned and disturbed, particularly (with) the present dispensation’s innuendos… too proud of its so-called good governance policy but… remained complacent to the sentiments of the constituency as if they are not part of the Philippines.”

Amin lamented that President Aquino seemed to take the side of Malaysia.

“We have (an) unsolicited advice for them to look into the historical truth because it has irrefutable evidence in black and white that has a better chance of winning in the International Court of Justice or the United Nations organizations system, including its Security Council,” Amin said.

Fatima said the family would still have to consult with their followers regarding their next move. Fatima only smiled when asked when the family might reach a decision with the deadline given by Malaysia.

I approve of Homer’s indecision to go to war and support the Sultan. Why? Because the incompetent elite will lose their heads if they will go to support them. Partly I want a war to break out as a wake up call for the majority especially the educated that their society is miserable and needed reform.

For now we need to become pragmatic. The people and the bureaucrats of Sabah had already rejected our countless proposals. In fact when PH was a regional power, Marcos was preparing for an invasion, but they had backed down after Britain said that they will send troops there, thus it will trigger a disastrous war for us if it happened. Our armed forces are backward to modern standards and we are a small voice in the region. Worse, incompetent officers lead our army. We cannot even crush a small bandit force in the tiny island called Basilan.

I think we should prioritise first the development and reform of the country before grabbing land from our neighbours. This event will only cause the urgent surge of ultra nationalism and militarism that will be taken advantage of the incompetent elite to satisfy the fantasies of the masses.

This country needs to clean up its own house first, rather than chasing off after something they’ve lost by abandoning it for half a century. Stupid, arrogant jingoism. If we want to pursue our claims in Sabah, we have to fix our own backyard first like improving the lives of the Filipinos into Malaysian levels or greater than of that so that the people of Sabah will insinuate to be part of our country.

This is more ridiculous, commentators from a militarist page involved the name of God to wage their worthless cause:

Bear in your minds, that you are Filipinos that the Philippine is your country and the only country that God has given you. You must keep it for yourselves, for your children and for children’s children until the world is no more. You must live for it and die for it if necessary. ‘ GOD BLESSED THE PHILIPPINES’

My beloved Filipino brethren this is now the time for unity. Let us get what is our own. Let us unite to get back Sabah..United we stand divided we fall…God bless us all

So they are ready to die for a worthless cause? Volunteer yourselves and don’t run when they hunt you. To those who support war, go volunteer! In fact, it will be a good riddance.

I will use a speech from Maximilien de Robespierre to justify my views. I opposed him on several grounds but this is the most intelligent speech he had ever delivered to the National Assembly during the French Revolution:

If they are Caesars or Cromwells, they seize power for themselves. If they are spineless courtiers, uninterested in doing good yet dangerous when they seek to do harm, they go back to lay their power at their master’s feet, and help him to resume arbitrary power on condition they become his chief servants.

— Maximilien Robespierre, 1791

I will never expect a Valmy, I am expecting a Tsu Shima or a Waterloo. We will lose this conflict. Go die in a worthless cause. Consider the facts first. What? We will experience the disasters of the First World War in our eyes

We will not even stand a chance in trench warfare, more less conventional battles. Their air force can annihilate our ‘best’ ships, they can also shoot and bomb our worthless trainers and harass our ground forces, a motorised battalion can force our army to surrender, their navy and their submarines can starve and blockade our forces. We must face the truth. We must not repeat the mistakes of Argentina during 1982, Japan during 1945 and Russia during 1905.

These people must understand that we will repeat the mistake of Russia a century ago in a war against Japan for influence over China. Heck our army can’t be even compared with the Imperial Russian Army at that time, which was one of the most powerful armies of Europe even to this day.

Some said that it is our destiny, well fuck it, we will destroy ourselves. Our county is weak and poor and the war will even turn our country into shit. We will lose military equipment, men, materiel, resources and territories.

I am not a coward, I am only pragmatic. We will not win this war and for now, we will never intimidate our neighbours. It is an irony that we hate Malaysian, Spanish and American imperialism, but we love Filipino imperialism.

We are too retarded to become a great empire, and imperialism was already dead since the end of the Second world War, alongside Communism and Nationalism during the late 20th century. Wake up people, wake up. Be realistic.

Do you need to support it if you are not a Filipino? It’s time to open your eyes! We will face either humiliation or disaster in this conflict. Wake up and do not let militarism fool you. Wake up and Get Real! Now a cool song just to relax your mind. I see you guys maybe later or tomorrow. Adios! Poor Stupid Juan wake up!

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