A leading Philippine daily reported that Filipino intelligence sources had linked a Sabah politician allied to a Malaysian opposition leader as among “external factors” responsible in instigating heirs of the Sulu sultanate to reclaim Sabah.
A report carried by Philippines Daily Inquirer journalist Nikko Dizon said Manila was monitoring three groups described as “external factors” behind the incident.
“These external factors’ are one small faction that is in it for the money, an anti-Aquino administration group, and the Malaysian political opposition,” the daily’s online website stated on Friday.
The report said sources had “consistently mentioned” the three groups as having taken advantage of the decision of the sultanate’s clan, the Kirams, to pursue their Sabah claim.
Though the Kirams’ claims were to have been made last year, sources said the Philippine government’s policy on Sabah was to keep it on the back burner.
“But apparently some people want to push it forward now. And why now, at this time, is one of the questions government intelligence is looking into,” the report added.
Another source said the groups had used the Kirams’ pursuit for their own agenda.
“There are a lot who can gain from this, not just in the Philippines but in Malaysia as well,” the source was quoted as saying.
The source, who is an intelligence officer, said the Kirams initially planned to pursue their claim as early as last year but went to Lahad Datu on the instigation of these groups.
The motive for the Malaysian opposition involvement in the incident was linked to the impending general election here, the intelligence officer was quoted as saying.
The report stated that a member of the Malaysian opposition who is running for a post in Sabah had made prior contact with the Kirams.
“Apparently, this politician was one of those who spoke with the Kirams. He supposedly gave the opposition’s support to the Kirams’ claim to Sabah,” the source said.
It was reported that the Kirams had decided in November to “reclaim Sabah or at least ask for higher compensation for Sabah and due recognition by Malaysia” but ended up heading for Lahad Datu in February.
In a report recently, Reuters had also implicated the involvement of the opposition in the Lahad Datu standoff.