A self proclaimed Sultan of Sulu, Kiram III, had managed to send some 200-250 armed rebels into Sabah. They were called members of the Royal Army of the Sultan, charged with the responsibility of reclaiming certain parts of Sabah including Lahad Datu and Semporna, as part of the Sultan's territory. One will remember that the Philippine's government laid claim on Sabah way back in 1963 but the claim was later dropped. The claim of the Sultan of Sulu disappeared with that. But after the Philippine's government awarded a self governing status to Southern Philippines with Malaysia acting as the peace negotiator, the claim was suddenly revived, raising many questions as to why so.
the dead heroes going home
It looks ludicrous at first for an old Sultanate to proclaim a piece of a sovereign and independent nation as its territory, especially since the Sultanate is not recognized in its own original kingdom.And also when only a few hundred 'soldiers' were sent to infiltrate the nation. But this ceased to be a joke when a total of eight policemen including high ranking officers, were killed by the 'soldiers' now proclaimed as armed terrorists by the Malaysian government as against 52 members of the band already killed by the police and members of the security forces mobilized to give assistance. The terrorists had also intermingled with the local residence of the villages in the area, who themselves mostly originated from the Philippine but have acquired a citizenship status. Thus the job of sieving out the terrorists from the villagers when unarmed could be very difficult.
others ready for action
Malaysians are angered not only because of the armed intrusion but because of the intrigues used to ambush members of the recognizance team and the brutal way those captured were tortured and killed. The way they treated the dead bodies also showed that they might not be good Muslims, if they were Muslims at all. Could they merely mercenaries hired to create trouble for the government on the eve of a general election? The number of people killed i.e. 8 policemen and 52 of the terrorists, seems to be too high a cost for such a political gimmick.
the mpv ready for action
Malaysia certainly faces the problem of getting enough skilled and semi-skilled workforce to implement its development programs especially in relation to some of its mega-projects.As such foreign workers had been allowed to come in quite freely from Indonesia, Bangladash, Cambodia, the Philippnes, India etc. Some, especially the Indonesians, Filipinos, Indians and Chinese have been living in the country for so long that they have been awarded a citizenship status. In the case of Sabah and the eastern part of Malaysia, it has been home to so many Fili[inos since before the establishment of Malaysia that to separate the citizens and the new comers or intruders would be most difficult. Any attack by the security forcers on villages known to be occupied by the armed intruders could result in a high level of 'collateral damages'. What more if the intruders have resorted to holding local residents as hostages.
The situations seems to resemble the days of communist terrorism in Peninsula Malaya when it was so difficult to differentiate between local Chinese residents and the Chinese terrorists. Sir Gerald Templer finally decided to group the local Chinese in fenced-up New Villages heavily guarded by the security forces.We hope that it would not be necessary to do so in Sabah in order to protect the bona fide local residents from harassment by the armed and obviously vicious intruders. We all hope and pray that a peaceful solution can be found to the problem by calling on the self-proclaimed Sultan Sulu to call off his futile act of reclaiming lost territory through an armed struggle.