By now, the name Lahad Datu will be as well-known to most, if not all, Malaysians, as Kuala Lumpur, Johor Bahru and Penang. It is also highly likely that they can also easily point exactly where Lahad Datu is on the map of the Malaysian, never mind the state of Sabah.
This sudden surge in recognition is basically due to an “unannounced visit” of the “Royal Sulu Army”, “landing” near the small village of Kampung Tanduo (or Kg Tanduo) and making it its base. So unannounced was it that upon making land in Kg Tanduo and making it their base, it did not merit more than just a few lines in the local media despite the visiting party being dressed in battle fatigues and carrying automatic arms.
This “unannounced visit” by a group of about 100-200 men (depends on your source of information), dressed in battle fatigues complimented with automatic arms was naturally given a traditional welcome by the Royal Malaysian Police (PDRM, by the Bahasa Malaysia acronym and yes, I do mean Royal, with its own internationally recognised Royal Standards) with orders to contain the presence of the unannounced visitors to that little village of Kg Tanduo (this too did not, initially, merit more than a few lines, if any).
However, this group of “merry men” merited more than just a line in the local media when the group’s leader, one Raja Muda Azzimuddin Kiram, stated that they were in fact members of “the Royal Sulu Army” and was in Sabah, under the “royal command of Sultan Kiram Shah III” to “re-claim what was once theirs”.
This raised alarm bells as :-
(a) “to re-claim” hinted at what was once at the centre of dispute between The Philippines and Malaysia ie the state of Sabah, claimed to be that belonging to the Sulu Sultanate (now widely accepted as being defunct) despite Sabah being internationally recognised as being part of the Federation of Malaysia,
(b) “Royal Sulu Army” denotes that the group has the right to carry arms, ignoring the fact that they were in Malaysia (a sovereign and independent nation in itself and recognised by all and sundry including the superpowers and the United Nations) were of no import and was summarily dismissed by the group as they regarded themselves as being in the land they owned and therefore, have the right, without question to bear arms, and
(c) the name “Kiram” is a name related to the Sulu Sultanate (which Kiram it is and whether the Kiram in question is the rightful Sultan is another matter.
Pertinent however and of utmost importance is whether the Sulu Sultanate still exists or otherwise as even the Philippine Government, never mind Malaysia’s, only acknowledges the existence of the Sulu Sultanate as historical fact but no more than that, unlike that of the Malay Sultanates of Malaysia.
If ever one needs to brush up on Malaysian history, this was the moment. The “past” and the present met on the shores of Kg Tanduo and was set for a collision course, with the future, integrity, sovereignty and independence of Malaysia at stake.
For make no mistake, as far as the Malaysian authorities are concerned, there can only be one course of action, for there can be only one outcome and that being no right thinking sovereign and independent nation (as is Malaysia) will allow anyone else, be they be another foreign country (said country being defined as such by international law) OR any group of people (armed or otherwise) to claim a part or parts of said sovereign and independent nation. Any attempt to do just that will be resisted. Period. End of discussion.
In the good ole days, should a foreign party land on your shores bearing arms, the Ruler or Sultan will instruct one of his “Panglima” or Generals to prepare a welcoming party to ascertain “Friend or Foe” whilst preparing for the worst at the same time. It’s no different today. Once ascertained, then the next course of action will be set into motion, for better or for worse.
In this case, it was ascertained that (a) these guys did actually claim themselves to be members of the “Royal Sulu Army”, (b) they were led by their “Raja Muda” or Crown Prince Azzimuddie Kiram (aka Agbimuddin Kiram), (c) their aim is to “reclaim” Sabah as their own, and (d) they will not leave the state on their own free will or anybody elses’, for that matter. Well, not alive anyway.
If there were any doubts as to whether this was an elaborate joke or massive publicity stunt, the killing of two members of the PDRM’s VAT69, an elite force formed during the Malayan communist insurgency and trained by the British SAS, by snipers of the invading group put paid to that.
When six more members of PDRM including members of the Special Branch, were shot dead whilst checking on sightings of armed combatants in fatigues a few days later in an ambush in a water village in Semporna, a nearby town, it resonated loud and clear to everyone that this was no elaborate joke nor was it a massive publicity stunt. And with the deaths of members of the Royal Malaysian Police, from this point on, all bets were off.
No more discussions. No more extended deadlines. No more nothing. Nothing can be more sobering than to see the bodies of your dead colleagues, your brothers in arms, NOT ONLY DEAD BUT THEIR BODIES MUTILATED AND DESECRATED.
And after all that, with the aid of a misguided call from the UN’s Sec General for a ceasefire and negotiations (with all due respect HE Ban, what an ass if not totally inept show, for making that kind of statement WITHOUT referring to the facts of the matter), the so-called Sultan of Sulu Jamalul Kiram III had the cheek to sue for a ceasefire, all the way from Manila, which prompted a very loud and clear Malaysian response, SURRENDER OR DIE. Period. Enough said.
As it is now, the Malaysian public will let our boys in blue, green and black deal with the invading “Royal Sulu Army” (as they are more known in the Philippines) in a manner deem fit.
However, from the reported events and developments as well as revelations thus far, it must be said that :-
(a) SOMEBODY SOMEWHERE WITH MONEY has been very naughty, as highlighted by Filipino media sources. To be exact, as reported by the Filipino media, three SOMEBODIES or parties, namely from Malaysia (the Malaysian Opposition as reported by the same Filipino source), the Philippines and the other, for the moment, remains unrevealed.
One thing for sure, Jamalul Kiram III, the self-proclaimed Sultan of Sulu (mind you, there are several other claimants to the title) could not have finance the invasion of Sabah himself as he himself in undergoing medical treatment courtesy of the Filipino government.
(b) For the three SOMEBODIES, money does not seem to be a problem for a fair bit of money must have been splashed. In todays world, it would not be surprising if the amount of money “invested” in this “political and military exercise” would exceed USD100 million at the very least, as state-of-the-art weaponry itself requires quite a fair bit of dinero or in this case, pesos, what more to finance an operation involving more than 200 personnel in three separate locations with a schedule planned over a long period of time.
After all, state-of-the-art weapons need to be bought (the arms dealer must be well-connected as they must, to stay relevant in this business), proper state of the art equipment for communications and to mount the operations, uniforms (the latest design from the trendiest army stores don’t come cheap, you know and who the hell would take the Royal Sulu Army seriously if they were to make their landing in flip-flops), and last but not least, canaries need to be fed and kept in gilded cages less they fly off in the dark of the night, only to surface elsewhere, and loyalities need to be bought and secured. Afterall, there is no honour and can be no honour amongst conspirators. What more amongst traitors?
It does not take a military genius to figure that one out.
(c) the events in Sabah are timed to coincide with and are related to the impending Malaysian general elections and Phillipines’ midterm elections. Power for the sake of power will forever be an incomplete equation if you do not factor in the economic variable as well.
If the Filipino media report is any way reliable, it would be safe to say that incidents at Lahad Datu are preludes to paving the way to secure political power in two separate countries here, two countries with a combined population of more than 100 million and a combined GDP of USD 13,000.
Both countries are, economically speaking, doing quite well, thank you very much. But politically, there’s a power-hungry bunch in Malaysia who will stop at nothing to gain power and by all accounts, President Aquino has his fair bit of political enemies too.
It is understood that Jamalul Kiram III stood for election whilst allied to President Aquino’s rival camp during the last election and lost. All eyes must now surely be trained on those with whom he had contact prior to events in Lahad Datu. After all, that is basic investigative work for any competent investigative authority, wouldn’t you say?
(d) the events are also related to the recent signing of the peace accord between MILF and the Phillipine Government (maybe somebody somewhere eg MNLF felt left out or is trying to make a comeback. Nur Misuari maybe? He appears out of nowhere offering his assistance to mediate (huh? why now? and why him?) after appearing to have met an important member of the Malaysian Opposition in Jakarta and Manila. Anywhere else? Singapore? Bangkok?),
By now, it would be safe to say that the antennae of the respective intelligence services in the region and those that have an interest in the region will be up a notch or two or three even, for an incident has occurred pitting two ASEAN countries together, with clandestine meetings held in major cities within ASEAN itself.
No doubt that it is a high stakes game that somebody somewhere is playing. And it is no less dangerous.
Once it has been proven beyond any doubt as to the identities of those behind the Lahad Datu incident, then it must be demanded that they must be dealt with the full force of the law and their identities and actions be made known to all and sundry. For they must be made to understand, the lives of Malaysians, the integrity, sovereignty and independence of Malaysia are not issues to be trifle with. You do so at your own peril. Period. Enough said.