|Photo taken by Filipina Maharlika, who was in attendance at the Symposium and is one of the founders of the Philippine Sabah Claim Forum.|
|Photo of Sultan Ismail Kiram I who officially transfered sovereignty rights over Sabah in 1962 to the Republic of the Philippines. Sultan Ismail (or Esmail) Kiram I, is the grandfather of Sultan Muedzul, 35th reigning sultan of the Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo (Sabah) Original post on Philippine Sabah Claim Forum|
|Senator Nene Pimentel launched the first salvo of the 21st century on the reclamation of Sabah|
IT IS IMPORTANT TO KNOW THE BASIC FACTS ABOUT THE NORTH BORNEO (SABAH) QUESTION. WE HOPE THE FOLLOWING BRIEFER WILL HELP YOU UNDERSTAND SOME OF THE MOST IMPORTANT FACTS ABOUT THE NORTH BORNEO (SABAH) QUESTION ~~ Admins, Philippine Sabah Claim Forum
THE BRIEFER ON THE NORTH BORNEO (SABAH) QUESTION IS FROM THE PIMENTEL INSTITUTE.
SENATOR NENE PIMENTEL, a very good friend of the founders of the Philippine Sabah Claim Forum, launched the first salvo of the 21st Century on the reclamation of Sabah during a symposium held in the University of Makati on 15 October 2011.
The picture of the banner herein was taken by Filipina Maharlika, who was in attendance at the Symposium and is one of the founders of the Forum.
A BRIEFER ON THE NORTH BORNEO QUESTION BY THE PIMENTEL CENTER FOR LOCAL GOVERNANCE
I. MANILA ACCORD 1963
Joint-Statement signed on August 5 by Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines under paragraph 12 of the 1963 Manila Accord reads:
“The Three Heads of States of the afore-named countries take cognizance of the position of the Philippine Claim to Sabah after the establishment of the Federation of Malaysia in 1963, that is, the inclusion of Sabah in the Federation of Malaysia does not prejudice either the Claim or any rights thereunder until finally resolved by the United Nations, not precluding the International Court of Justice”.
II. SABAH DESCRIPTION Sabah or North Borneo is 30,000 square miles and rich in oil and other natural resources. It is the gateway to All Southeast Asian Nations, North-east Asian Countries and to Australia and New Zealand; and separated South China Sea from the Sulu Sea.
III. HOW SABAH WAS RENTED OUT
An enterprising Austrian businessman negotiated on behalf of the British North Borneo Company with Sultan Jamalul Ahlam, a sovereign ruler, to lease North Borneo [Sabah] for an annual rental payment of 5,300 Mexican gold, a currency used in that time, to establish the company in North Borneo and enable it to exploit/develop its natural resources.
IV. LANGUAGE USED
The Lease Agreement was written in Arabic characters, and, used “Padjak”, a word common to both the Tau-sug and Malay Language to capture the intent of the contracting parties.
V. LATER DEVELOPMENTS
Much later, Great Britain and Malaysia maintained that North Borneo [Sabah] was leased in perpetuity. The two countries’ claims were based on the unilateral action taken by Alfred Dent, Overbeck’s business associates, after Overbeck sold his leasehold rights in 1879 to Dent.
VI. 1881 ROYAL CHARTER RESTRICTION
The 1881 Royal Charter of Incorporation precluded the Company of Dent from acquiring sovereignty over Sabah for the simple reason that the authority granted to Overbeck was merely a delegation of administering authority made by the Sultan of Sulu, in whom sovereignty still remained vested.
VII. PROTESTS FROM OTHER COUNTRIES
The issuance of the Royal Charter triggered official protests from the Governments of Spain and Holland.
In reply, the British Parliament reiterated the provision stated categorically in the Royal Charter that the authority given to Overbeck was merely to administer North Borneo but the Sultan of Sulu retained sovereignty.
The British Parliament assured further the two countries that Great Britain did not assume dominion over the leased-territory.
VIII. PROTECTORATE AGREEMENT
In 1888, the British Parliament urged the British Crown to sign a “Protectorate Agreement” with the British North Borneo Company. The Agreement unilaterally transferred the Company’s interest and the territory of North Borneo [Sabah] to the Crown without prior notice to the Sultan of Sulu.
IX. RENTAL PAYMENT CONTINUED
However, the Company did not stop the “annual rental payment” to the Sultan of Sulu.
X. 1898 TREATY OF PARIS SILENCE ON NORTH BORNEO
When Spain and the United States signed the December 10, 1898 Treaty of Paris, the two countries did not include the status of the leased-territory of North Borneo [Sabah].
Apparently, they did not want to offend the British Crown as they needed the British Government’s recognition on the Treaty of Paris.
XI. SULU SULTANATE PLACED UNDER U.S. RULE 1900
Notwithstanding the silence of the Treaty of Paris on the ownership of the Sultanate of Sulu of North Borneo, the Sultanate of Sulu, itself, came under American rule in 1900 as an offshoot to the 1898 Kiram-Bates Agreement.
XII. WHAT WAS THE KIRAM-BATES AGREEMENT ALL ABOUT?
IT WAS AN AGREEMENT THAT the United States Government through General John C. Bates negotiated with the Sultan of Sulu Jamalul Kiram II in 1898.
The 1898 Kiram-Bates Agreement underscored in particular the US recognition that North Borneo [Sabah] was merely under lease with the British North Borneo Chartered Company.
XIII. 1914 BRITISH MANUEVER
IT IS BELIEVED THAT IN THE YEAR 1914, the British Government maneuvered to induce, if not, compel Sultan Jamalul Kiram II to renounce and transfer his Temporal Sovereignty over the Archipelago of Sulu to the US Government in the Philippines.
XIV. BRITISH MANEUVER AS MANIFESTED IN INDUCEMENT ACT LED TO 1915 KIRAM-CARPENTER AGREEMENT
The British Crown’s Inducement Act precipitated the calling of a Conference that led to the signing of the 1915 Carpenter Agreement between Sultan Jamalul Kiram II and Governor Frank W. Carpenter of the Department of Mindanao and Sulu, representing the US Government.
XV. IMPORTANT PROVISIONS OF KIRAM-CARPENTER AGREEMENT
Under the 1915 Carpenter, the US Government agreed to perform the following obligations:
First, the US Government reiterated the recognition articulated by the 1899 Kiram-Bates Agreement regarding the status of North Borneo(Sabah) BEING LEASED ONLY TO OVERBECK, THEN, LATER TO BECK;
Second, the US Government assured full protection to the Sultan of Sulu should the question of Sabah in the future arise between him and any foreign authority; and,
Third, the US Government agreed to place the Sultanate of Sulu under an American Protectorate.
XVI. THE CARPENTER AGREEMENT NEVER ABROGATED
Despite the 1935 Cession of Mindanao, Sulu and Palawan by the US Government to the Philippine Commonwealth Government, the Kiram-Carpenter Agreement subsists.
XVII. BRITISH MOVE TO STOP RENTAL PAYMENTS
British Consul-General L. H. Fould in Manila recommended to the British Government and Officials of the British North Borneo Company to stop the annual rental payment to the heirs of Sultan Jamalul Kiram II.
XVIII. HEIRS FILE 1937 SUIT WITH SESSIONS COURT
Heirs filed an interpleader suit in 1937 before the Sessions Court of North Borneo. In 1939 the British courts resolved the case in favour of the heirs, naming then Datu Punjungan Kiram as Administrator of the leased-territory of North Borneo [Sabah]. That was the first Court Case won by the Sultanate of Sulu.
XIX. IN 1946 BRITISH CLAIMS SOVEREIGN RIGHTS OVER NORTH BORNEO
On July 10, 1946, prodded by the British North Bormeo company, King George of England issued a North Borneo Cession Order in Council, which read that:
“With effect from the 15th day of July, 1946, to the intent that the Crown should, as from that day have full sovereign rights over, and title to, the territory of the State of North Borneo and that the said territory should thereupon become part of His Majesty’s dominion”
XX. 1950 UN REBUFFS BRITISH CLAIMS
But, in 1950, the UN passed another Resolution mandating all colonizing countries that the three modes of acquiring territories by means of discovery, conquest and occupation were no longer recognized as valid.
XXI. 1950 BRITISH BACKTRACKS
That year, the British Government restored and returned the title of sovereign and proprietary ownership of the Sultan of Sulu over the Turtle Island and all small Islands comprised therein to Sultan Esmail Kiram 1 and the other Nine Principal and Rightful Heirs under the leadership of the Court-appointed Administrator then Crown Prince Punjungan Kiram. Some of the High Government Officials of the Philippines were invited by the British Government to act as witnesses during the turn-over ceremony.
XXII. POLITICAL GESTURE
Sultan Esmail Kiram 1 and Crown Prince Punjungan Kiram believed that the British Government’s move was an undisguised political gesture to inveigle the Sultan of Sulu as head of North Borneo (Sabah) to formally and officially join the Political Association designed in 1955 by the United Kingdom that eventually became the Federation of Malaysia.
XXIII. TERMINATING 1978 LEASE AGREEMENT
SENSING the undesirable effects of the political ploy mentioned above, the Sultanate terminated officially in 1955 the 1878 Lease Agreement with the British North Borneo Company as well as the Company’s administering authority over North Borneo [Sabah].
XXIV. FEDERATION OF MALAYSIA TAKES SHAPE
On November 1, 1961, Tunku Abdul Rahman, head of the Federation of Malaya, and the British Government agreed formally to establish the political association headed by an appointed British-Malayan Commission known as the “Cobbold Commission” that gobbled up the territories of North Borneo [Sabah], Sarawak, Singapore and Brunei.
The Commission headed by Lord Cobbold, a British subject, was tasked to ascertain the views of the Bornean people.
XXV. 1963 ACTS RELATING TO MALAYSIA
Anchored on the Cobbold Commission’s report, on July 9, 1963, Great Britain and the Federation of Malaya signed the Acts Relating to Malaysia in London.
The Acts recognized the establishment of Federation of Malaysia that included the leased-territory of North Borneo as the New State of Sabah.
XXVI. TOLENTINO DISPUTES MALAYSIA’S CLAIM OVER NORTH BORNEO (SABAH)
Senator Arturo M. Tolentino in his lifetime disputed Malaysia’s title of sovereignty over Sabah [North Borneo].
He said that the Sultanate’s sovereign rights over North Borneo (Sabah) as established by a chain of closely related historic and legal facts were superior to those of the British North Borneo Company or its successors in interest.
(a) First fact – that the British North Borneo company merely based its rights upon the rights of Mssrs. Overbeck and Dent --- rights which were not those of a sovereign but those of a LESSEE;
(b) Second fact – that the United Kingdom in turn based its alleged rights of sovereignty over the territory on the rights of the British North Borneo Company --- rights which were not those of a sovereign but those of a LESSEE; and,
(c) Third fact – that Malaysia’s claim to sovereignty over North Borneo [Sabah] is based on the rights of the United Kingdom --- rights which were not those of a sovereign but those of a LESSEE.
XXVII. PHILIPPINE CONGRESS OFFICIALLY ACTS TO PRESS SULTANATE RIGHTS OVER SABAH
Prior to the assumption of sovereignty rights over Sabah by the Malaysian Federation in 1963, the Philippine Houses of Representatives and Senate studied seriously the Sultanate of Sulu’s title of sovereignty and proprietary over North Borneo [Sabah] since 1950.
After thorough study, the Two Houses of Congress were convinced that those rights were supported by facts some of which were kept in the Archives of Spain, Great Britain, Holland, Germany and the United States.
In 1962, the Philippine Government filed the Sabah claim with the United Nations.
XXVIII. SPECIAL POWER OF ATTORNEY FROM SULTAN
The Philippine Government first secured a Special Power of Authority from the Sultan of Sulu.
Among the basic premises of the Special Power of Attorney that was given to the Philippine Government by the Sultan of Sulu were the following:
Under the 1935 Philippine Constitution, North Borneo was not a part of the national territory of the Philippines;
By historic and legal rights only the Sultan of Sulu can lay claim title of sovereignty over North Borneo, a territory lying outside the territorial boundaries of the Philippines; and
Without the 1962 Special Power of Authority, the Philippine Government pleading before the UN could be faulted over a technicality (not the proper party in interest) by other parties like Malaysia and Great Britain.
XXIX. RESIDUAL POWER WITH SULTANATE
The 1962 Special Power of Authority or the Transfer of Sovereignty issued to the Republic of the Philippines making her a proper party to prosecute the Sabah claim in the UN on behalf of the Sultanate of Sulu adopted a mutually agreed constitutional safeguard contained on page 5 of the same document that reads:
“Should the Republic of the Philippines fail to exhaust all peaceful means within the modes of pacific settlement of disputes, the transfer document shall become ipso facto null and void, ab initio, and the Sultan of Sulu shall be free to assert sovereignty over North Borneo by other means available to all sovereign claimants”.
XXX. DISASTROUS EFFECTS OF FAILURE TO PROSECUTE SULTANATE’S RIGHTS
The Government’s continued-failure to press the Sulu Sultanate’s legal rights over North Borneo is a major factor that has led to considerable loss of lives and immense economic devastation in the Mindanao-Sulu Region in the three decade-old Mindanao Conflict.
This failure led to the under-development, lack of employment opportunities and livelihood activities in the Sulu Archipelago and the Sulu Sea which, ironically, are rich in mineral resources and oil reserves.
If the lives of our people are secured, and their properties and the rights of our citizens are protected in the Sulu Archipelago, it is not far-fetched to dream that we will attain peace, security and economic development and progress in Mindanao-Sulu Region in particular and our country in general.
XXXI. BRING ISSUE TO THE FRONT BURNER
Aside from the 1962 UN claim, the Sabah issue was brought and elevated by our government only in the Ministerial Meetings in London and Bangkok in 1963 and 1968, respectively.
Since 1989 after a Malaysian Prime Minister attended the Manila Summit in 1987, our government has placed the Sabah issue at the back burner.
XXXII. SULTAN’S APPEAL
Allow me to appeal and request your support in furtherance of the Sabah claim for the future of our nation and for the good of Filipino generations yet to come.
Link to the PIMENTEL INSTITUTE
Philippine Sabah Claim Forum
Sabah Claim Society
Defenders of the Philippine Sabah and Spratly Claims
18 February 2013