Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Sabah as regional flashpoint

Is Malaysia ready to transform Sabah into a regional flashpoint? I ask this question in the light of the current standoff in Sabah.

Sabah, by historic right and title, is part of the dominion of the Sultan of Sulu.

The alleged "occupation" of the adherents of the Sultan over a part of Sabah is technically not an illegal intrusion over other people's lands since the property itself is titled under the name of the Sultan of Sulu. It is a principle in property law that the owner must exercise dominion over the property if he wants to claim ownership.

The Malaysian and Philippine governments must seriously study the possible implications or consequences of using brute force to expunge almost 200 adherents of the Sultan of Sulu and North Borneo who hold themselves up in a remote village in Sabah.

In the eyes of the Islamic community, the Sultan of Sulu is in the right and pious side. Under Shariah or Islamic law, it is the right of any Muslim to exercise his dominion over his own property, and based on history, Sabah. That alleged intrusion is an expression of the Sultan of Sulu his claiming dominion over his inherited property.

Any armed attack against adherents of the Sultan of Sulu could bring countries which are part of the regional triangle closer to a regional war. The Tausugs and Yakans are ready to fight it out with the Malaysian forces. Worse, Tausugs have a close relationship with Shiite or Islamic groups in Indonesia, Thailand, and even Malaysia. There is a possibility that these groups will challenge the might of Malaysia in a brutal and protracted war or struggle just to assert the right of the Sultan to his property.

Sabah, in all likelihood, could lead to a regional jihad, where jihadists would fight for the right of the Sultan to get Sabah back.

This will revive the Abu Sayyaf Group,the real Al Harakatul Al Islamiyah movement, and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF). This will also be used by the enemies of the Malaysian and Philippine government to justify their revolutionary struggle.