The dispute between Malaysia and Philippines started many years ago, but just recently the two countries become very aggressive when it comes to territorial claims over Sabah. What is the basis of the Philippines to tell that Sabah is still a part of the country? In this article, we will take a look at some important parts of the history that strongly suggest that Sabah belongs to the Philippines.
Sabah is actually a part of Borneo situated in the northern part of the country. It is surrounded by various coastlines including South China Sea in the northwestern part of Sabah and Sulu Sea (Philippines) in the northeastern part. The total population in Sabah is approximately 2.5 million with a land area of 76,116 square kilometer. Manila, the capital of Philippines is 1, 143 kilometer away from Sabah while Kuala Lumpur (capital city of Malaysia) is 1,678 kilometer away from Sabah. So, it is indeed safe to say that Manila is closer to Sabah than Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. It is said that Sabah is rich in natural resources, especially in terms of natural oil and gas. However, despite its natural richness it still remains to be underdeveloped up to this day.
When did the dispute over Sabah claim started?
Going back to the history, the sultanate of Sulu helped the Sultan of Brunei in fighting the enemies. As a form of gratitude, the Sultan of Brunei granted the territory of Sabah to the Sultanate of Sulu. That’s how it all started. From then on, Sabah is considered part of the Sultanate of Sulu’s sovereignty. Sabah is known as the land beneath the winds. It is just a tiny land, but its natural richness is good enough to attract investors. In 1878, the territory of Sabah was leased by Austrian and British businessmen. The lease fee at that time is 5,000 Malaysian ringgits as well as gives the sultan some arms to help them in fighting the Spaniards. The lease continues up to the formation of the Malaysian Federation. Currently, Malaysia is still paying a lease of 5,300 ringgits to the sultanate of Sulu.
What worsen the situation?
According to the reports, the Malaysian authorities are deporting Filipinos from Sabah because they are undocumented/illegal aliens. As a matter of fact, inhuman treatments are being reported involving Malaysia authorities. This is currently investigated by the government of the Philippines and Malaysia. The government of Malaysia only permits Filipinos to go to Sabah if they will be able to present documents. Although this may sound good, it is actually difficult on the part of the Filipinos who have been in Sabah since secessionist war. Filipino Muslims have been in Sabah for many centuries now and they considered the place as part of their ancestral domain.
Currently, the Philippine government has brought the case to the international court. The government of the Philippines is also working out to increase the lease. The latest report stated that the Malaysian soldiers killed approximately 10 Filipinos in Sabah, which is then yield to territorial claims. Will the dispute be resolved? The answer remains a mystery.
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