The untold story of the Lahad Datu incident -

On 16th July 2012, Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim flew to Jakarta to meet Nur Misuari — who is very close to Anwar since the days when Anwar was in the government — and the military commanders of the MNLF. The meeting was held in the Crowne Plaza Jakarta hotel and was arranged by an Indonesian Member of Parliament — another close friend of Anwar — at the behest of Anwar. A second meeting was held in Manila on 4th August 2012 to finalise and seal the agreement.

autonomy sabah ANWARRaja Petra Kamarudin

I wrote about this matter eight years ago back in 2005. However, many of you were probably not yet readers of Malaysia Today in 2005 so you most likely did not read what I wrote then.

For those of you who can remember what I wrote, it was a very long story indeed but basically it was about the links between the Muslim leaders in the Malaysian government and the Muslim leaders in the Philippines and the role that Malaysia played in the ‘internal affairs’ of the Philippines.

Most Malaysians do not understand the difference with Sulus, MNLF, MILF and Abu Sayyaf — as they do not know the difference between the PLO and Hamas. Nevertheless, let me simplify it by saying that they are all merely splinter or rival groups of the Muslims in the Philippines who are seeking self-determination, just like the Palestinians in the Middle East are. And Malaysia, being a Muslim country, sympathises with the Muslims of the Philippines — as it does with the Muslims of Southern Thailand — and is helping in any way it can to resolve both the Philippines and Southern Thailand issues.

Along the way, however, something went wrong. As I had written in 2005, certain promises were made that were not delivered. And this has a bearing on the Sabah ‘IC issue’ (you do not need a RCI for me to tell you that). And that resulted in the Sipidan hostage crisis and the involvement of Libya in helping to eventually resolve the crisis after many months of deadlock.

A reported RM50 million changed hands to secure the release of the hostages, the cost which Libya underwrote. Of course, no one is going to admit to this although they will not be able to explain how and why the hostages were eventually released.

But all that happened decades ago. We are talking about the start of the crisis in 1970, when many of you were not even born yet, and the hostage crisis 30 years later in 2000. Since then everything has been very quiet — that is until last year when this whole thing was resurrected in preparation for the coming general election.

And this was what happened recently.

Anwar’s and Nur Miusari’s links go way back to the time Anwar was in government 

On 16th July 2012, Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim flew to Jakarta to meet Nur Misuari — who is very close to Anwar since the days when Anwar was in the government — and the military commanders of the MNLF. The meeting was held in the Crowne Plaza Jakarta hotel and was arranged by an Indonesian Member of Parliament — another close friend of Anwar — at the behest of Anwar.

A second meeting was held in Manila on 4th August 2012 to finalise and seal the agreement. Anwar flew to Manila on flight MH 704 and if you were to check these flight details you can confirm that Anwar did make this trip, as he did the trip to Jakarta just two weeks or so earlier.

In that meeting, Anwar told Misuari that he needs the latter’s help to win the coming general election. Pakatan Rakyat was confident of winning at least 82-85 of the 165 seats in West Malaysia. It was the 57 seats in Sabah, Sarawak and Labuan that he was not confident of winning.

Pakatan Rakyat needs to win at least 30 of those 57 East Malaysian seats to be able to form the federal government with an extremely slim but comfortable enough majority. (Anwar can always increase this majority later with crossovers from Barisan Nasional once they form the government). And for that to happen Anwar needs the support of the Muslims in East Malaysia, in particular in Sabah, many of them Filipino Muslims with Malaysian citizenship and voting rights.

Anwar promised Misuari that in the event Pakatan Rakyat takes over the federal government, Sabah and Sarawak would be given autonomy, as what they had been fighting for over 42 years since 1970. These two East Malaysian states would also be given 20% oil royalty, an increase of 15% from the current 5%. This would ensure that these two states would become very wealthy — an estimated RM4 billion a year for each state.

Furthermore, all the non-Malaysian Filipinos in East Malaysia would be given Malaysian citizenship — or at the very minimum permanent resident status — so that they could seek employment in Sabah. Jobs for them will also be assured.

Nur Misuari agreed to these terms and subsequently appointed Haji Ibrahim Omar as the MNLF coordinator or ‘unofficial ambassador’ to Sabah to help Anwar garner the support of the Filipino Muslims in that state.

And that was why the Malaysian government hesitated to take drastic action when trouble first emerged in Lahad Datu. The government knew that there was more than meets the eye in this whole episode although it was not too clear yet at that time how this incident fit in to the bigger scheme of things.

To leave things alone is certainly out of the question. But taking military action would only play into the hands of the conspirators and convince the Filipino Muslims in Sabah that they must unite behind Anwar to gain autonomy from the federal government.

Yes, the Lahad Datu incident was certainly a ‘wayang’, as the opposition claims. Very few Malaysians would deny that this is so. Many Malaysians are also convinced that there are certain ‘dalang’ behind this incident. What they do not know is: who is the dalang? Well, Malaysia Today has just revealed the untold story and I challenge the Malaysian government to deny the authenticity of what I have just revealed.

Another point to consider is whether the ‘war of words’ between the MNLF and MILF is another wayang. By perpetuating this conflict, which will result in the torpedoing of the peace process, this gives them an excuse for continuing the armed conflict. However, the relationship between the MNLF and the other splinter groups does not appear as ruptured as what it shows behind the scenes, if the above photograph is anything to go by.

My conclusion to this whole thing is that there are many plots and sub-plots and at the end of the day we really do not know who is playing whom.


1. Accused: I was asked and paid:

2. Columnist claims Misuari helped Sulu siege to derail Bangsamoro peace deal:

3. Anwar claims of BN plot to implicate him in Sulu clampdown:

4. Sulu military commander captured:

5. Lahad Datu: Kg Tanduo chief’s son is coordinator for Sulu group, say police:

6. Sultanate: 8 terror accused are Malaysians, not Pinoys:

7. There’s much at stake in Sabah:


Hostage crisis in the Philippines

(CNN, 23rd April 2000) – Abu Sayyaf gunmen attack a Malaysian dive resort on the island of Sipadan, seizing 21 hostages.

The hostages — 10 tourists and 11 resort workers — were taken to an Abu Sayyaf camp on the southern Philippine island of Jolo.

Over the following months all but one of the hostages, a Filipino, were released, allegedly after ransoms of up to US$1 million per hostage were paid to the kidnappers.

READ MORE HERE: Libya and the Jolo Hostages (20th August 2000)


AFP mum over sultanate’s Sabah intrusion

The intrusion occurred just as former Malaysian leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, also Pakatan Rakyat de facto leader, proposed that Sabah be granted autonomy.

(AFP, 16th February 2013) – ZAMBOANGA CITY: Philippine military officials kept silent over the daring intrusion of dozens of Filipinos into the eastern Malaysian state of Sabah, where authorities surrounded them and were negotiating for their peaceful surrender as of press time.

Reports said that the men are members of the sultanate of Sulu province and North Borneo and the Moro National Liberation Front (MILF), and that some of them were armed.

The Filipinos were believed to be active in the campaign to reclaim the Malaysian oil-rich island, which is part of the sultanate.

“The Department of Foreign Affairs has the sole authority to give a statement about that,” Col. Rodrigo Gregorio, spokesman for the Western Mindanao Command, told The Manila Times.

The Philippine Embassy in Kuala Lumpur and the Department of Foreign Affairs in Manila have not issued any official statement about the situation in Sabah’s Lahad Datu town, where some 100 Filipinos, many of them wearing military uniforms, were holding out.

Foreign Affairs spokesman Raul Hernandez said that they are still trying to ascertain and complete the facts of the Sabah incident.

The Sultanate of Sulu obtained Sabah from Brunei as a gift for helping put down a rebellion on Borneo Island. The sultanate of Sulu was a Muslim state that ruled over much of the islands off the Sulu Sea. It stretches from a part of the island of Mindanao in the east, to North Borneo, now known as Sabah, in the west and south and to Palawan province, in the north.

The Sultanate of Sulu was founded in 1457 and is believed to exist as a sovereign nation for at least 442 years. Malaysia, which is now brokering peace talks of Manila and the MILF, still pays a token to the heirs of the sultanate of Sulu around 6,300 ringgits each year.

Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said that they will do their best to prevent any bloodshed. Gen. Tan Sri Ismail Omar, police inspector, and Sabah Police Commissioner Datuk Hamza Taib, said that the Filipinos arrived in speedboats and that police and military forces have encircled the men.

“In terms of strength, we have the upper hand in combat power to arrest them, but the government opts for negotiation to break the stalemate so that they leave peacefully to southern Philippines,” the prime minister was quoted as saying by the Malaysian news agency Bernama.

“We have more and less identified the group. But let the police negotiate with them and hopefully, it will bear fruit and succeed. This is because they cannot go anywhere, they have been surrounded . . . They have no choice and have to find a solution,” he added.

The intrusion occurred just as former Malaysian leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, also Pakatan Rakyat de facto leader, proposed that Sabah be granted autonomy.

Sultan Muhammad Fuad Kiram I, the sultan of Sulu and the sultan of Sabah, said that Malaysia illegally occupied Sabah. “Sabah is still the property and sovereign patrimony of the sultan of Sulu and the royal sultanate of Sulu to this day,” he said in the website of the royal hashemite sultanate of Sulu, which is accessible at

He said that the sultanate supports “a free and independent Sabah [which] will be under our reign and our heirs and successors according to law of succession as the reigning sultan of Sabah.”


Authorities urged to reveal if Sulu militants are ‘Project IC’ Malaysians

(The Malaysian Insider, 21st March 2013) – PKR has urged the government to reveal if the Sulu militants who invaded Sabah last month were given blue identity cards (ICs) under Project IC.

The Sulu sultanate said yesterday that Agbimuddin Kiram — the brother of self-proclaimed Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III — was never issued a blue IC, but admitted that he had worked as an assistant district officer in Kudat on Sabah’s north.

“The confirmation (by the Sulu sultanate) raises worries among many quarters whether the armed group in Lahad Datu involves Malaysians originating from the Philippines who hold blue identity cards,” PKR strategy director Rafizi Ramli (picture) said in a statement today.

“This matter raises the possibility of threats to national security, as a result from certain parties allegedly linked to (former Prime Minister) Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad who allegedly gave citizenship without due process,” he added.

Dr Mahathir, Malaysia’s longest-serving prime minister who was in power from 1981 to 2003, has been accused of spearheading the so-called “Project IC”, in which citizenship was allegedly given to immigrants for their votes.

PKR said yesterday that Agbimuddin was appointed in the civil service in 1974, based on a 1975 Sabah government payroll dug up from the state’s archives.

The Sulu sultanate’s spokesman, Abraham Idjirani, reportedly said yesterday that Agbimuddin was still alive after fresh clashes against Malaysian security forces that killed two Sulu militants yesterday.

The Sulu sultanate’s “raja muda” or crown prince had led a 200-strong band of gunmen into Lahad Datu last February 9 and turned the Sabah east coast into a violent battleground in their bid to retake the state.

Rafizi also urged the Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) on illegal immigrants in Sabah to continue its proceedings to expose the illegal issuance of ICs in the Borneo state.

The RCI is due to resume on April 15, according to RCI secretary Datuk Saripuddin Kasim.

The RCI, which was formed on August 11 last year, has an additional six months to complete its probe after receiving the Yang di-Pertuan Agong’s consent.

Former Sabah National Registration Department (NRD) officers have testified at the RCI that blue ICs were sold to Filipino, Indonesian and Pakistani immigrants in Sabah.


Misuari cautioned not to take advantage of Lahat Datu episode

(Daily Express, 21st March 2013) – Kuching: Deputy Foreign Minister Datuk Richard Riot on Wednesday cautioned former Moro National Liberation Front leader Nur Misuari not to try and take advantage of the Lahad Datu episode to advance his personal selfish agenda.

In rebuking Misuari’s claim that Sabah rightfully belonged to the so-called Sultan of Sulu, he said, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak had made it categorically clear that the State was part of Malaysia and no one should question its sovereignty and territorial integrity as a legitimate part of Malaysian territory.

“My advice to Misuari is, if he is a peace-loving man as he desperately claimed to be and if he really loves and cares for his Bangsamoro, he should support and join the efforts towards the peace agreement within the framework that was signed recently between the Philippines government and Bangsamoro for long-lasting peace in Mindanao,” he told a media conference here.

Cautioning Misuari to heed the Malay proverb, “jangan menagguk di air yang keruh” literally translated as “not to fish in murky water,” he urged him to devote his remaining energy and time to the peace accord for the good of his fellow countrymen and government of the Philippines, to which he owed his loyalty.

He said the promotion of peace was one of the pillars of Malaysia’s foreign policy and, for which, the country would vehemently protect and defend every inch of Sabah against foreign aggression and any hostile action.

“We have witnessed that turmoil and instability in Southern Philippines have certainly brought no advantage to anyone but only to burden Malaysia and other neighbouring countries having to host those fleeing their homes for safety and better lives,” Riot said.

There was nothing that Malaysia desired for its neighbours more than for them to enjoy peace, stability and prosperity, he said.

For that reason, he said, Malaysia had been actively involved in peace keeping missions all over the world and willing to broker peace efforts in neighbouring countries, particularly in the Philippines.

He said the warm bilateral relationship between both countries was reflected when the regional governor of the autonomous region in Muslim Mindanao, Mujir S Hataman, paid him a courtesy at his office in Putrajaya in October last year.


Lahad Datu: Misuari’s claim a lie, says MILF

(The Star, 21st March 2013) – The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) has denied the claim that the Malaysian Government had used it to strengthen its claim on Sabah.

MILF secretariat head Mohammad Ameen also dismissed claims by former Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) chairman Nur Misuari that Malaysia was responsible for promoting disunity among the Moro people.

“This is a total lie and completely fabricated. Misuari has committed a sin for making such an irresponsible and callous statement against both the MILF and the Malaysian Government.

“He should rectify and atone for this,” Mohammad was quoted as saying in a news report by the Luwaran News Centre yesterday.

He was responding to Misuari, who accused Malaysia of being a “stumbling block” in efforts to unite rival Moro groups in southern Philippines.

Misuari also said that the MILF was “the instrument of Malaysian colonialism” and that it was Malaysia which was “pulling the strings” behind the MILF.

Mohammad pointed out that it was Malaysia who called for the formation of the Bangsamoro Solidarity Conference (BSC) in 2002 to unite the MNLF and MILF factions, as well as to promote a common position among them, especially in their dealings with the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).

“How could Malaysia use the MILF to strengthen its claim to Sabah when Sabah has never been made part of the agenda of the peace talks since 2001?” said Mohammad.

He said Malaysia did not volunteer to facilitate the peace talks between the MILF and the Philippine Government, but it was the then president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, in 2001, who requested Malaysia to act as a negotiator.

Mohammad questioned why Misuari was so eager to raise the Sabah claim now when throughout his 21 years of peace talks with the Philippine government, he had never raised the issue.

“It is a pity that Misuari is blaming everyone else for the failure of his leadership and growing irrelevance to the Bangsamoro struggle to self-determination,” he said.

“As a leader, Misuari has nothing more to prove. It is better for him to rest, write his memoirs, and allow the new breed of leaders to lead the Bangsamoro people towards the fulfilment of their true aspirations.”

UTAMABERITAThe untold story of the Lahad Datu incident

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