Several armed men from the Philippines entered the eastern Malaysian state of Sabah, in Borneo on February 9, 2013. They were part of the ‘royal army’ of the self proclaimed Sultan of Sulu, Jamalul Kiram III, who claims to be the heir to the throne of the Sultanate of Sulu.
Since then, the situation has become a political and diplomatic issue for both Malaysia and the Philippines, with several shootouts leading to deaths on both the Malaysian security forces and the rebels. In a press release, the Malaysian Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that ‘Malaysia considers this group as terrorists following their atrocities and brutalities committed in the killing of Malaysia’s security personnel, two in Lahad Datu and six in Semporna, Sabah.’ The rebels have called for a ceasefire, but that proposal was rejected by Prime Minister Najib Razak, who demanded for an unconditional surrender instead.Malaysians have been quite outspoken on the issue, taking a united stand in wanting the invaders out of their country, like Jan:
This is our land our sovereignty and our dignity. The intruders killed our serviceman first while our government been so kindly for you. Two deadline been given and yet you stayed stubborn. I supported my Prime Minister decision to crush them with our might. I’m not Najib fan and neither voted for his party, but he is my PM and supported his decision on this matter. And I believed most Malaysian if not all supported his decision regardless any political party.
Opposition politician Lim Kit Siang called for all Malaysians to stand behind the Prime Minister’s handling of the issue:
The Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s stand of unconditional surrender for the Sulu militants deserves the support of all Malaysians.
All Malaysians, regardless of race, religion, region or political affiliation, are united as one in giving full endorsement to all necessary measures by the government and the security forces to end the month-long battle against Sulu militants.
Monyet King thought that enough restraint has been shown, and praised the Malaysian armed forces:
We are a civilised nation and our forces acted in a very professional manner. The restrain shown during the first two weeks is commendable. They did the right thing. Instead of rushing to shoot “intruders”, they gave the intruders ample time to leave or give up. If you understand the history and socio-political situation in the Sulu and Celebes sea region, you will know that the situation is a lot more complicated with long-term implications. Shooting people isn’t exactly the best solution. Although many Malaysians ridiculed our forces for being “too soft”, they did the right thing by engaging in diplomacy first. Only when diplomacy failed, did they bring out the battering ram.
The issue is particularly controversial as the Malaysian government pays an amount of money to the Sulu Sultan's heirs annually, a payment it considers as a cession payment on its claim over Sabah, while the heirs consider it rent. The Philippines also has a territorial claim over Sabah.
The Nutbox asserts that the thoughts of the people of Sabah should be taken into account:
Sabah is not merely a piece of private property but a territory whose people have been granted the right to self-determination. While the United Nations-sponsored commission that found that the Sabahans desired to federate with Malaysia in 1963 may have been questionable to the Philippine and Indonesian governments then, the fact remains that Sabah has chosen to be part of the Malaya-Singapore-Sarawak federation and that the people of Sabah see themselves today either as Sabahans or Malaysians and not as Filipinos or Sulu subjects.
On Twitter, many Malaysians have reacted similarly:
@nazerim Despite the perceived failures of the politicians, I have 100% confidence in our armed forces to resolve the Sabah intrusion
@LisaSurihani Sabah's terrible unfortunate happenings is so upsetting. The uncivil resort in using armory n the bloodshed. My prayers r with u Sabah :'(
@ernamh Sabah has over 12 trillion cu ft of gas reserves. And you question why Kiram family & Philippines find the state so attractive?
@kawansetia Jamalul Kiram III needs to understand that we don't want a ceasefire. We want those Sulu terrorists to get well away from Sabah. #LahadDatu
@fadzmie You intrude into our country and now you want to dictate terms? In Sabah they say Palui Kau Ini.
@syahredzan There is absolutely no indication that the people of Sabah wants to be governed by Kiram III or by the Philippines. So to me, that's that.
@AnasZubedy 1Malaysia means that if 1 small corner is attacked by baddies, d entire country will come to defend it. Dari Perlis hingga ke Sabah :)