Friday, January 14, 2011

Next ‘sultan’ of Sulu a Malaysian citizen

THE Sulu sultanate will drop its claim to Sabah once a new sultan, a Malaysian citizen, is installed, the chairman of the sultanate’s Council of Regents declared Tuesday.

Reporting from Kota Kinabalu, the Malaysian news blog Free Malaysia Today said Datu Albi Ahmad Julkarnain, who calls himself the “prime minister of the interim government of the Sulu sultanate,” had told a press conference that the new sultan would be invested in Jolo in the next few months, but declined to identify him for security reasons.

“With this new sultan of Sulu, I can guarantee that the Sulu sultanate will not touch Sabah. We are not going to authorize the Philippine government to claim Sabah as they have no rights whatsoever over Sabah,” Albi was quoted as saying. In his remarks, Albi clearly allied the sultanate with Malaysia and dismissed all connections with the Philippines, denouncing all self-proclaimed sultans installed by Manila and the foreign powers in the past.

“All these so-called sultans of Sulu have no legitimacy or mandate from the Tausug people,” Free Malaysia Today quoted him as saying. The Sulu sultanate’s records showed that there were some 24 “sultans of Sulu” in the archipelago, while the US State Department showed there were some 123 claimants around the world, Albi said.

In November, Albi said, the Tausug people declared their independence from the Philippines at Plaza Tulay in Jolo. Some 10,000 supporters showed up for the rally, he said. “We are not part of the Philippines,” Albi said, adding that historical and legal documents would prove that the sultanate was not part of the country.

“We are happy that the Philippine government is not reacting violently towards our peaceful assertion of independence,” he said. The Sulu archipelago comprises the provinces of Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, Zamboanga, and Palawan and includes the Spratlys and part of Sabah. Free Malaysia Today reported that the press conference at the Tang Dynasty Park Hotel was delayed when Albi was “interviewed” by members of the Malaysian secret service, who were present.

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