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13th GE may reflect ‘fallout’ from Lahad Datu Standoff

By Joe Fernandez
It cannot be denied that for various reasons the on-going Lahad Datu Standoff may have an effect on the forthcoming 13th General Election results in Sabah.

The jury is still out on the question of who stands to “gain” most and who stands to “lose” i.e. if the General Election in eastern Sabah is held at the same time as in the rest of the Territory and country.

Judging from former Sabah Chief Minister Harris Salleh’s reported appeal letter this week to Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein Onn, the police are seizing the Malaysian personal documents of Suluks in Semporna and Lahad Datu and tearing them up before their very eyes. Apparently, these documents include IMM13 immigration documents issued to refugees and MyPRs or the red-coloured Permanent Residence Identity Cards.
If so, someone or some party may want the Suluks in particular out of the 13th GE.

Are the loyalties of these people to the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) suddenly suspect?

Philippine news reports speak only of the Suluk fleeing as “refugees” to the nearby Philippine islands and of the 800,000 Filipinos in Sabah being sent back in the wake of the revelations at the on-going Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) on the extraordinary rise in the state’s population in recent decades. Among the reported demands of one Sultan Jamalul Kiram III, the main figure in the Lahad Datu Standoff, is that the Sulu people in Sabah not be deported to the Philippines “since they were in their own country (Sabah)”.

Why did Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) vice president Tian Chua claim, not once, but on several occasions that the Lahad Datu Standoff is a conspiracy hatched by Umno

Four seditious statements attributed to Tian Chua
The sedition charges brought against Tian Chua on Thurs 14 Mar, 2013 attributed four statements to him as follows:

  1. The shooting in Lahad Datu is believed to be a planned conspiracy of the Umno government to divert attention and intimidate the people.
  2. The incident has raised many questions and doubts as to the drama staged by the Umno government
  3. Described the intrusion in Lahad Datu as only a drama of the government to intimidate the people to make it seem that Sabah is not peaceful. The intrusion in Lahad Datu was only a drama of the government to intimidate the people to make it seem that Sabah is not peaceful.
  4. There is a conspiracy by the Umno government to divert the attention of the Sabah people, particularly from the issue of giving identity cards to foreigners.
Tian Chua was charged under Section 4(1)(b) of the Sedition Act 1948 and can be penalized under Section 4(1) of the same act which provides for a maximum fine of RM5, 000 or up to three years in jail, or both, upon conviction for the first offence, and up to five years jail for subsequent offences.

Don’s statement should be read together with purported Tian Chua statements
Tian Chua’s purported statements should be read together with that by, for example, Dr. Gerhard Hoffstaedter of the University of Queensland, Australia, who shared his take on Tues 12 Mar, 2013 with the Voice of Russia “on the armed conflict in the Malaysian state of Sabah, where a ragtag band of fighters from the so-called Royal Army of the Sultan of Sulu clashed with Malaysian troops”.

“Now, PM Najib’s approval ratings have been going down quite rapidly over the last couple of weeks, so he is unlikely to call it (GE) now,” according to Hoffstaedter . “A standoff in Sabah could delay elections certainly in Sabah perhaps, maybe even in the entire country, it could show a force on his part, could reassert him, could give him a bounce back in the polls. I mean these are some of the questions being asked - why now?”

Hoffstaedter adds that “these claims from the sultanate of Sulu have been there for a very long time and the timing does seem either suspicious or odd at least and raise questions especially because his (Najib’s) poll showings are quite bad”

The Opposition, noted Hoffstaedter, has worked very hard since already shaking up the establishment in 2008 in the last election when they denied the ruling coalition a 2/3 majority, which it had enjoyed since independence, “and a lot of observers expect the opposition if not to outright win, to cause another major shakeup in Malaysian politics at the next elections”.

Tian Chua being charged comes amidst speculation that Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim may be arrested for his long-standing links with Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) Leader Nur Misuari and, by extension, his purported links to the Lahad Datu Standoff.

Nur Misuari’s about-turn on Lahad Datu interesting
Nur Misuari, probably alarmed that Anwar may indeed be arrested, has been singing a different tune in recent days.

In a statement on Wed 13 Mar, 2013, MNLF Chairman Muslimin Sema declared that his organization “respects and recognizes the decision taken by the people of Sabah to form Malaysia in 1963”. If only it was true! No referendum was held in Sabah, Sarawak, Brunei and Malays on Malaysia.

Earlier, after Lahad Datu erupted into an armed uprising, Nur Misuari warned Najib not be big-headed, warned him against targeting the forces of the so-called Royal Sulu Army (RSA) in Sabah and further warned that the MNLF would not hesitate to send forces to Lahad Datu to fight alongside the so-called Sulu Sultan’s forces.

In another bizarre statement, Nur Misuari claimed that Sarawak belonged to him from the time of his great-great grandfather or something to that effect.

Now, Nur Misuari is claiming that the MNLF forces in Lahad Datu, apparently disguised as the RSA, went there without his knowledge.

Suluk, Bajau complain of marginalization, disenfranchisement
The bottomline is that the pro-tem United Sabah National Organization (Usno) under Badaruddin Mustapha, the son of a former Governor and Chief Minister, has evidently been making some headway in Suluk areas in particular in alliance with the State Reform Party (Star) led by Jeffrey Kitingan. Usno candidates are expected to stand under a common independent symbol and/or under Star. There’s also talking of Star “loaning” candidates to Usno, whatever it means.

Suluk and Bajau community leaders were the only ones who agreed in 1963 to the formation of Malaysia. Since then, they have been complaining of marginalization and disenfranchisement following the continuing influx of Bugis illegal immigrants – Najib’s community -- in particular from Sulawesi in Indonesia.

To add insult to injury, the Pala’u or Bajau Laut (sea gypsies) along the eastern seaboard of Sabah continues to remain stateless. The Usno is trying to take up their cause but to no avail, according to Usno vice president Abdullah Sani.

It has been estimated that at least 12 state seats were created in the aftermath of 1994, the fall of the PBS Government, based on MyKads issued to those who were not eligible to hold them and not entitled to obtain them.
The 12 state seats saw the number of Muslim-majority seats in Sabah increasing to 32 from 20, while the number of Orang Asal seats remained at 20 and Chinese at 8. There are 60 seats in the Sabah Assembly while this Nation in Borneo has 26 seats including Labuan in the Malaysian Parliament.

Besides, the 20 original Muslims seats were held by Usno before the party was deregistered and Umno took its place.

Jeffrey admitted meeting a Sulu claimant last year
Usno is determined to wrest back these 20 seats and has indicated it has no interest in the other 12 Muslim-majority seats.PKR, it’s known, has been working these 12 state seats besides other Muslim and non-Muslim seats in Sabah.

It’s not known whether Star will be vying for the said 12 seats since the party, under its Plan Z, had previously said to would, together with Usno, go for all 60 state seats in Sabah and the 26 Parliamentary seats including Labuan.

Jeffrey has also admitted in a recent press statement that he did meet in mid last year in Kota Kinabalu with a claimant to the Sulu Sultanship – not Jamalul Kiram III -- who wanted him to attend his coronation in the Philippines. He declined the invitation.

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