Manila: The Sultan of Brunei, Hassanal Bolkiah, has no time to meet with Sultan of Sulu, Jamalul Kiram III, whose brothers and 400 followers have been engaged in guerilla warfare in an occupied village to press the Philippine royal family’s claim over Sabah, a spokesman of President Benigno Aquino said.
“The schedule [of the Sultan of Brunei] is quite tight. I don’t see any opportunity for that — or, at least, for the visit of the Sultan here,” said Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte.
Manila’s foreign affairs department finalised the itinerary of the Sultan of Brunei starting April 15, the start of his two-day state visit in Manila, said Valte.
The Sultan of Sulu had requested for an audience with the Sultan of Brunei at the Embassy of Brunei last week.
At the same time, President Aquino and Sultan Bolkiah have no time to discuss the tension between the Malaysian forces and the camp of Sultan Kiram in Sabah, said Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda, adding, “I can safely say Sabah is not going to be an issue [between the two leaders].”
They will discuss the strengthening of Philippines-Brunei bilateral relations, and Brunei’s chairmanship of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) leaders’ summit, said the foreign affairs department.
Meanwhile, a younger brother of Sultan Kiram, Datu Alianapia Kiram, who has been living in Semporna, Sabah, had joined Raja Mudda Agbimmudin in an undisclosed village in Lahad Datu, said Abraham Idjirani, spokesman of the Sultan of Sulu.
Datu Alianapia brought with him 400 to 500 armed men from several areas in the southern Philippines who volunteered to go to Sabah, said Idjirani, adding that 75 to 80 percent of them are armed.
“Datu Alianapia is also recuperating from the injuries he suffered while escaping from the Malaysian security forces,” said Idjirani, but did not give more details.
The two Kirams have established a strong moveable force, said Idjirani, adding, “Their mobility has allowed them wider territory and stronghold.”
Earlier, Datu Amirbahar Kiram, nephew of the Sultan of Sulu, was captured and detained by Malaysian security forces.
Prime Minister Najeeb Tun Razzak was quoted by the New Strait Times of Malaysia as saying that the government’s operation code named Daulat, is about to end, but authorities will continue looking for members of Kiram’s camp.
The hunt for members of the Sultan of Sulu’s army, including Sabah-based supporters will be continued by the newly set up Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom), said Razzak.
Clashes which began on March 1 have killed 98 Filipino-Muslims, and 10 Malaysian policemen. About 4,000 Filipino-Muslims working in Sabah have returned to the southern Philippines.
The Sultan of Brunei gave Sabah to the Sultan of Sulu in 1650. The British North Borneo paid lease to the Sultan of Sulu for the use of Sabah during the colonial era, in 1780.
But the British North Borneo turned over Sabah to the United Kingdom, which, in turn, gave it to the Federation of Malaysia at the end of UK’s colonial era, in 1963.
Since then, Malaysia has been paying lease for Sabah.