Epic fail: Philippine and Malaysian govts continue to botch the handling of the Sabah crisis

The fighting in Malaysia’s Sabah province could be turning into a massive humanitarian crisis the likes of which the otherwise prosperous region hasn’t seen in decades. As sketchy reports of abuses perpetrated by Malaysian security forces allegedly purging the state of Filipino nationals get traded amongst “concerned” individuals on the Net, the Philippine government has issued its strongest statement (as far as Philippine government statements on the matter go) to the Malaysian government so far…

The Philippine Foreign Affairs Department said in a statement that it “views with grave concern” Philippine news reports alleging Filipinos have been rounded up in Lahad Datu, the coastal district where the gunmen are believed to be hiding, and other Sabah areas.

“The allegations are alarming and should be properly and immediately addressed by concerned authorities,” the statement said.


Part of the problem stems from a lack of transparency around the events unfolding in the Sabah crisis which had severely degenerated over the last several weeks following an incursion into Malaysian territory by the “royal army” of Sultan Jamalul Kiram III, claimant to the throne of the Sultanate of Sulu. This lack of transparency seems to be a result of a reluctance on the part of the Malaysian government to disclose authoritative updates on their police operations against the intruders and a lack of international media coverage on the ground.

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Evidence is mounting that the situation in Sabah is far from being “under control”. The Philippine government is reportedly having to start to deal with a steady stream of refugees fleeing the violence…

[…] Philippine authorities continued to receive Filipinos fleeing from the conflict in Sabah, intercepting lately at least 130 more refugees on board a motorboat in the waters of Tawi-Tawi, reports reaching the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) leadership in Cotabato City said yesterday.

The reports quoted Lt. Commander Lawrence Roque, commander of the Philippine Coast Guard station in Bongao, as saying that the latest refugees – mostly women, children and the elderly – were taken off Taganak Island, also known as Turtle Island, near Sandakan, Sabah.

The refugees were escorted to Bongao, the capital of Tawi-Tawi, where they were assisted by Task Force Tabang, which was formed to help civilians displaced by the hostilities in Sabah, according to ARMM’s social welfare and development officials.

They claimed to have escaped from Sabah for fear that they would be rounded up by Malaysian security forces reportedly raiding houses of residents with Filipino-sounding surnames.

Up to 800,000 Philippine nationals currently reside in Sabah, many of whom trace their ancestry to Tausug tribes who once formed the vast majority of the subjects of the Sultanate of Sulu. Armed operations against the Filipinos by Malaysian security forces have continued and have even been stepped up after calls for a ceasefire coming from Kiram were rejected by Kuala Lumpur last week. But the ethnic ties of many Sabahans with southern Filipinos have complicated things for the Malaysian armed forces. Reports abound of reenforcements coming from groups left out of the loop in a peace deal brokered by Kuala Lumpur between Manila and the militant Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) coming to the aid of the intruders in Sabah.

According to a report by Philippine Defence Secretary Voltaire T Gazmin to Malaysian Defence Minister said Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, the Philippine Navy has poured more resources into a naval blockade to stem the flow of assistance to the Sabah intruders coming from Mindanao…

[Hamidi] said the Philippine government had launched an operation to prevent residents from the Sulu Islands to cross over to Sabah.

Malaysia appreciates the effort done by Philippine government, he told reporters after opening a carnival organised by Barisan Nasional (BN) and Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) in Gopeng here today.

The crisis is a stark reminder to the Malaysian and Philippine governments of the failure of their politicians to take a long and broad view of what is at stake for the people most impacted by the upheaval. Successive Philippine presidencies, for one, have sat on the issue of the Philippine claim on Sabah for decades. The Malaysian government, for their part, have allegedly been providing logistical and training support to armed Islamic rebels in Mindanao since the 1970s which, in an ironic karmic twist, now finds them having to deal with elements amongst the intruders who are familiar with the Sabahan terrain. And, more recently, the much-hyped “framework agreement” brokered by Kuala Lumpur that would’ve paved the way for peace between the MILF and Manila left key stakeholders out of the loop.

48 Replies to “Epic fail: Philippine and Malaysian govts continue to botch the handling of the Sabah crisis”

  1. P-noy is as predictable as a pulse asia survey.
    The die was cast when the sultan was left out of the peace talks, compounded by the arrogance of malacanan, and finally exacerbated by p-noy’s naivete, sheer incompetence and ostrich syndrome.
    Only him and his interns could make a crisis out of something which others saw coming a mile off.
    So much for a huge intelligence fund. Better to spend it on what it was meant for rather than senator bribes and electioneering.
    Caught yet again with his pants down. Only this time just with himself.
    Excuses and conspiracy red herrings dont avoid the simple fact – one more screw up and now everyone in panic mode, and lives being lost.

  2. I saw the headlines from the Philippine Star dated March 11, 2013. The article title is ‘Even women, children targeted in Sabah’ Here is the excerpt: “DAVAO CITY- Tawi-Tawi has been overwhelmed by refugees who have fled Sabah amid horror stories of Malaysian forces targeting even pregnant women and children in a security crackdown. Small boats have been docking in Tawi-Tawi, loaded with refugees fleeing the crackdown. A worker who asked not to be named said even pregnant women and children who were long-time residents of Sabah have been hunted down and killed as the Malaysians fire mortars and embark on a house-to-house search to flush out supporters of Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III…” So genocide and ethnic cleansing has begun in Sabah. No thanks to the inaction of the sleeping president BS Aquino. The yellow apologists keep on saying that there is no genocide or ethnic cleansing. The Philippine Star’s motto is Truth Shall Prevail. Shame on the yellow trolls of the dictator!

  3. It seems that aquino is now deep in yellow colored shit thanks to his continued bungling. The yellow trolls and apologists are in trouble now since their propaganda can’t hide the fact that aquino has blundered yet again.

  4. You wonder who wipes p-noy’s ar$e now that mummy is not around.
    By his age he should be potty trained and not blame everyone else for his incontinence, and incompetence.

    Another fiasco today with comelec appointments. All par for the course. Sh!t everywhere and p-noy in hiding. Pathetic little wimp.

  5. Let us all wake and understand better, who is better than the 2 evils.
    Ask ourself a simple question, is this so-called “sultan” recognized as such In our country?
    Which territory does he Control In our country, the philippines?
    Under what law was he appointed “sultan”?
    I didn’t know, Phillipine have have this system of Monarchy governemnt. Which provinces are placed under the charge of hereditary “sultans”!
    When we adopt this wierd system where you have sultans and governors ruling the provinces. How much monetary emolument does this “sultan” receive from the philippine govt?
    My point is: if we do not recognize him (jamalul kiram) as sultan do you expect Malaysians to accord him the title.

    My fellow country men, wake up agin…“Evil has nothing to do with race or what dilect you speaks. One can be evil because of greed, power greedy, with shallow religious faith and possess animalistic character,”
    So stop defending the indefensible!!!,
    Please…stop attacking P-noy of not supporting terorist. I am very sure, P-noy has better brain than most of us.

    1. The Philippines informally already has a monarch, and he’d rather go around campaigning for his Liberal Party instead of focusing on what’s more important for the country.

    2. @Reyes

      Please read a bit of history regarding the titles of Datus and Sultans in the Philippines. This is from MLQ III’s North Borneo (Sabah): An annotated timeline 1640s-present:

      June 11, 1936

      Sultan of Sulu (Jamalul Kiram) dies and the question of the perpetuation of the Sultanate is raised. Sultan Muwallil Wasit succeeds his brother but dies before he was crowned.

      Brother is the claimant though his niece Dayang-Dayang, married to Datu Ombra, wishes to be Sultana. Quezon considers her to be the ablest of the Moros but Mohameddan law does not permit a woman to be Sultan. Harrison points out large portion of political sovereignty already surrendered to Wood in 1903 and Carpenter in 1915. Quezon to recognize Sultan only as the religious head. British North Borneo Company expressed interest because of the stipend paid by the Company to the Sultan.

      January 29, 1937

      Datu Ombra Amilbangsa is proclaimed Sultan of Sulu

      He is the husband of Dayang Dayang Hadji Piandao. His title becomes Sultan Mohammed Amirul Ombra Amilbangsa. His Crown Prince is Esmail Kiram, having given up his own present pretentions to the Sultanate

      About the same time, Datu Tambuyong is proclaimed and crowned Sultan.

      His title becoming, Sultan Jainal Aberin. He chose Datu Buyungan, his brother and present husband of Tarhata Kiram as Crown Prince.


      While Esmail Kiram I did not assume the throne, Dayang Dayang makes her husband, Datu Ombra Amilbangsa, sultan. Datu Tambuyong is also crowned sultan but by opposing Moro leaders.

      Datu Ombra is named Sultan Amirul Ombra Amilbangsa; Datu Tambuyong is crowned Sultan Jainal Aberin. The two claimed the sultanate from 1937-1950.

      May 9, 1937

      Through the efforts of Dayang Dayang, the British resume payment of lease.

      September 20, 1937

      Memorandum on Administration of Affairs in Mindanao of President Quezon to Secretary Quirino

      Titles of Datus and Sultans are recognized but have no Official Rights and Powers

      October 2, 1937

      Representative of Sulu Datu Amilbangsa writes to President Quezon.

      Datu Amilbangsa claims that the policy as released covering this subject was most unnecessary, as the non-recognition has already taken effect since the abrogation of the Bates Treaty and the implantation of the Civil Government in the regions referred to.

      October 8, 1937

      Three-point policy for Mindanao and Sulu letter from the Executive Secretary Jorge Vargas to the Representative of Sulu Datu Amilbangsa.

      Jorge Vargas communicates President Manuel L. Quezon’s policy to recognize the titles of Datus and Sultans but no official rights and powers.

    3. @reyes

      Criticism and the expression of grievances is part and parcel of a healthy, free democracy. BS is not above criticism. The Sultanate of Sulu existed during the Spanish occupation. You are obviously grossly ignorant of the royal blood and lineage of the Sultan. Stop attacking BS Aquino? Is he the man who would be despot in the Philippines? You are defending a political animal who slept on the job. Why don’t you ask him why he sided with Malaysia? You are obviously not a patriotic Filipino.

      1. Thomas, IIda Please…stop attacking P-noy of not supporting self proclaimed sultan (terrorist warlord). I am very sure; P-noy has better brain than most of us.

        Firstly, Kiram send his private army came to invade and terrorist Sabah, vowing to fight until death, to last drop of blood. Then they shot, killed and mutilated Malaysian security personnel, and no thanks to our own ministers who are bunch of idiot treated them like “brothers” instead of terrorists, and sent in lowly trained street policemen to do the job without proper weapons and protection.
        Even when Arse-Hole Kiram private army are given a chance to surrender on the first 2 weeks, these Arse-Hole Kirams still insisted on fighting until death and tried to rouse a Suluk rebellion within Sabah.
        Tell me, what has all these to do with religion? The stupid statements from Kiram also would imply that if Malaysians are not Muslims, then the fighting will be justified?
        Don’t they know that Malaysia have people of various religions? Majority people in Sabah are Catholics/Christians & Buddhist.
        In this stupid moved by this Stupid animal Arse-Hole, Kiram private army (terrorists) deserved to be destroyed. And the illegal instant citizens from Sulu and the rest of Mindanao ought to be deported, and all those instant ICs and passports invalidated!
        They are threats to the security of Malaysia, as demonstrated by this mini invasion. If 200 to 300 invaders can cause so much trouble, just think how much trouble if they sent a few thousand of them, plus another sleeper column within Malaysia being activated.

        1. We majority non-Muslims are losing sleep over this minority muslim matters.It is all about Kiram interests, got nothing to do with Phill. Since the break of dawn,these Muslims had been the drain to our resources. The best option, Aquino pays all these Muslims (do not exclude others like MNLF, MILF, Abu Sayaf and what not)to leave Phill especially Mindanao; leaving for Sabah and letting us to manage our country as one homogeneous society.

    4. Please…stop attacking P-noy of not supporting terorist. I am very sure, P-noy has better brain than most of us.

      What the…I just saw this. Is this guy for real?!?

      What’s your proof that PNoy has more brains than most of us? Please be specific.

      And what makes you say that we are “attacking” PNoy?” We are merely writing our observations. He doesn’t need anybody’s help in bringing himself and his administration down.

      1. @Ilda
        It seems that this “reyes” is another one of eduardo’s kin. Another one of malacanang’s pathetic attempt to do damage control. Too bad for him that it won’t work this time since no amount of yellow propaganda can hide the truth that Aquino messed up big time.

      2. hahaha! hayaan mo na gusto niya yan eh! Hangga’t may naniniwala kay Kris Aquino at ABS-CBN hindi matututo mga yan. Forever na fanatic and uto-uto 😀

      3. @ronaldo

        You and BS Aquino think alike. You are for Malaysia just like he is. You are no patriot. BS has better brain than most of us? Are you referring to IQ, EQ, memory capacity, inductive/deductive reasoning and paranormal brain activity? Hehehe.

  6. as long as Filipinos delude themselves into thinking that we could reverse 50 years of history of self-determination, and that a pretender to the sultanate is the key to “retaking” Sabah, we can’t ever move on. Pnoy might have committed a lot of mistakes, but the spoiled brat of philippine society didn’t give anyone any choice, and the President took the unpopular but brave act of calling the terrorists’ bluff. any blame should fall on Kiram and those behind him.

    1. well, why not? Kiram’s group achieved something in their stand ” awareness” specially for the Filipino youth who’s not aware of it. And I guess, every body was moved by this 🙂 as they say strike the iron while it’s hot and this issue will be never a dormat unto this day 😀

      1. we have to analyze what kind of “awareness” this episode is inculcated in the minds of the youth. and i’m sure any “awareness” has been filtered and edited to suit the interests of one party.

        1. exactlty and it depends which side you are 😉 and obviously there’s a lot clamors about the incompetent of our president on how he handles the situation.

        2. well, doesn’t matter what side you are on. dozens of people have died. and imho, judging from the behavior of the “sultan”, for nothing. i also think that jamalul and company took the country for a ride. and the people don’t even know it or won’t admit it. that’s the real tragedy of it all.

  7. It’s a crissis that Aquino cannot handle. Now, he is hiding again….in fear….more tranquilizer, he is taking now…

  8. the business links exposed today between cojuangco, ang and malaysia specifically in the oil, gas and airline deals could explain a lot regarding the malacanan desire to please malaysia more than its own people

  9. Just as I figured, the followers of the Sultan are getting whacked, by the Malayasians! All of you who think Aquino is an idiot, think again! He got a foreign gov’t> 2 do what he could not be seen doin? and , of course, he is full of shit too!!! but everyone already knew that!
    The price of peace in Mindanao, STRANGE, HUH? not really….predictable more like it!

    1. You should really wait for the repercussions of PNoy’s mishandling of the Sabah crisis before praising him. It could take months or even years before this is evident to us all. Kiram’s followers still need to regroup and plan their next move.

      1. what really is the objective? picnic? “retake” Sabah? get international attention? increase rent? even Jamalul doesn’t seem to be able to make up his mind.

        with respect, and imho. the UN won’t ever by sympathetic to the claims of jamalul. especially when you’re comparing historical feudal rights over the rights of a people to self-determination.

        setting aside the kiram family, what is the long term plan of the Philippines? shouldn’t we move on instead of always getting emotional over 19th century or earlier issues? we all have grievances. some more urgent than kiram’s. let’s move on.

        1. Well, his family is receiving “rent” on a regular basis. So obviously, the family believes they have a valid claim over Sabah. There has been no concrete resolution as far as our own Supreme Court is concern with a ruling by the high court in July 16, 2011 that the Philippines’ claim over Sabah is retained and may be pursued in the future.

        2. no argument that kiram might really believe he had a valid claim. but his methods were really wrong. and imho, and it is clearly an opinion, that if he’s been waiting for such a long time with nothing happening, why go into this misadventure just 2-3 years into this regime? just because his letter was not addressed? no matter how real his claim is, my point that as a responsible citizen, nobody should even feel entitled to just bringing an armed group to disputed territory. and it shouldn’t matter if one was a disputed royal, or that he belongs to a certain ethnic background. we are, after all, supposed to be a republic subject to the same laws. and we haven’t even discussed kiram’s arguably “terroristic” actions.

        3. PNoy was the one who gave Kiram and his followers ideas on how to get what they want. When he gave the MILF what they wanted – the Bangasamoro deal – the Kirams realised that using violence can work in pressuring the government to do something about their cause. You can’t say they didn’t try to use diplomacy. They wrote PNoy three times but they were ignored. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t condone their actions, I just think that PNoy should be accountable for making the situation go from bad to worse. Like I said in my recent article:

          Kiram currently resides in Taguig, Manila. That is only a few kilometers away from Malacanang. It’s a mind boggling exercise to consider the question of why President BS Aquino hadn’t spoken to him in person. Does the President see himself as above talking to Kiram? Considering that the casualties in the fire fights keep going up and how Philippine-Malaysian relations continue to deteriorate, we wonder: Why can’t BS Aquino go out of his comfort zone, make an exception in this case, and talk to Kiram man-to-man? Oh that’s right. President BS Aquino has been busy campaigning for Team PNoy out of town for the May mid-term elections and considers it more important than saving lives and maintaining peace and order.

        4. and there are quite more than a few indications that kiram might have been manipulated into staging this to disrupt a much bigger thing. which is the GRP-MILF peace deal. by some stretch, this might also have been intended to isolate the Philippines more in the international community. if i were such a conspirator, i’d think isolating the country within ASEAN might be a good start. but i guess i’m starting to ramble. i defer to the other peeps on the blog. thanks for the space.

          really love your writings. don’t agree with all of them, and some are a bit too focused on bashing. and i think i’m in love. mabuhay po.

      2. @Ilda, who is praising Aquino. He is a politician and he is full of shit, just like every single one of them. The Sultan is done, stick a fork in him. His followers? They will get whacked next time too! it does not mean they won’t resort to killing some innocent people, but they will not be getting anything back…period. Next move? They should all commit suicide before they do another ill-advised invasion of a sovereign country, save them some travelling inconvenience.
        The ‘Sultan’ is only kidding himself, or maybe his followers.

    2. @Ilda, I am not praising Aquino( he is just as full of shit as all the rest of the politicians/elites!). To give this sultan guy and his followers any credit as to being anything like an army or anything besides a rag-tag bunch of farmers w/pistols and maybe a few home-made explosives, PLEASE!
      the Sultan should stick a fork in himself and his followers would be better off committing suicide, before invading a SOVEREIGN country again. this whole thing would be hysterically funny if it weren’t for li’l kids getting killed. I mean, “lets go wash ashore a sovereign nations island, as if we are shipwrecked, and announce a take-over”. WHAT THE F#@%? this was an act of sheer idiocy.

    1. easy to pin the blame on noynoying. the moment kiram’s men crossed into Sabah, the die was cast. his group was given 3 weeks to stand down. didn’t matter what anyone told kiram. the only thing that probably jolted him back to reality was the shooting. i’d think it never crossed his mind it would get to that. and now he’s been saying “do or die” one moment, and “rent increase” on another. guess these things don’t matter to people determined to blame someone, do they.

  10. @robcar

    You are obviously confused. Go back to your yellow master. Like you… he is into blame games. He also likes to protect Malaysia and not the Philippine claim. Duh, did he ever protect our Filipino people in Sabah?

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