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Malaysia, return Sabah to Sulu now!

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The latest historical material I luckily stumbled upon in my unending quest for official diplomatic documents that would confirm that North Borneo now Sabah, was in fact leased to and not purchased by Baron Von Overbeck from the Sultan of Sulu in the Deed of January 22, 1878, is the letter penned on January 7, l883 by the British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Lord Granville which reads:

“The British Charter [representing the British North Borneo Company] therefore differs essentially from the previous Charters granted by the Crown…in the fact that the Crown in the present case assumes no dominion or sovereignty over the territories occupied by the Company, nor does it purport to grant to the Company powers of government therefore; it merely conveys upon the persons associated the status and incidents of a body corporate, and recognizes the grants of territory and the powers of government made and delegated by the Sultan in whom the sovereignty remains vested. It differs also from previous Charters in that it prohibits instead of grants a general monopoly of trade.”

The essential and specific portion of the British Foreign Affairs communiqué which to my personal opinion, asserts quite convincingly that North Borneo was leased to and not purchased by Baron Von Overbeck from the Sultan of Sulu, is quoted as follows:

“As regards the general features of the undertaking, it is to be observed that the territories granted to the Company, have been for generations under the government of the Sultanates of Sulu and Brunei, with whom Great Britain has had treaties of peace and commerce.”

Perhaps, this British Foreign Affairs communiqué written about five years after the Deed of January 22, l878 entered into by the Sultan of Sulu and Baron Von Overbeck, could be used as additional diplomatic evidence for the Sultan of Sulu heirs to pursue their proprietary right and even sovereignty over North Borneo which is now known as the state of Sabah in Malaysia. This document should also soften the hard line position of Malaysia in continuously asserting questionable sovereignty and fraudulent territorial ownership over Sabah on account of the provision in the Deed of l878 which expressly prohibits the delegation of sovereignty and transfer of ownership over such territory to any other party or state without the knowledge and consent of both contracting parties.

Personally, I believe it would be far, far more humanitarian and a hundred times more benevolent for Malaysia to return immediately Sabah to its historical and lawful owner which she herself knows from head to foot, than to act as an over-anxious and excessively benevolent host for any peace talks which has been popularly perceived as loaded with ulterior motives and vested interest. To be blunt about it, Malaysia has always been suspected to be the “nigger in the wood pile” in the peace process. I hope this is nothing but a pigment of my imagination.

By Clem M. Bascar




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