Self-styled Sulu sultanate's Prime Minister has declared that a Malaysian citizen residing in Sabah will be installed as the new sultan soon.
Datu Albi Ahmad Julkarnain, the self-styled “prime minister of the interim government of the Sulu sultanate” made the announcement at a specially arranged press conference yesterday.
Adopting a “royal” manner at the press conference, he intoned: “I am delighted to solemnly announce here that after the investiture of the new sultan, which date shall be announced at a not-too-distant future, serious consideration to dropping the claim to Sabah would be deliberated in the best interest of Islam brotherhood, and long-term mutual bilateral relations between the Sulu sultanate and Malaysia.”
He said this was a friendly gesture by the sultanate “to reciprocate the Malaysian government’s kind treatment of its people who fled the war-torn Sulu province to Sabah back in the 1970s, to escape persecution by the Philippine government”.
According to him, the sultanate’s records showed that there are more than 20,000 citizens of the Sulu sultanate commonly known as the Tausug people scattered all over Malaysia and in Sabah in particular.
Albi, 73, also shocked many of those present at the occasion, including the Special Branch officers, when he disclosed that the soon-to-be-installed sultan of Sulu is a Malaysian citizen currently living in Sabah.
He, however, declined to name the person, citing safety reasons.
He claimed that the new sultan is a direct descendant of Paduka Mahasari Maulana Al-Marhum Sultan Shariful-Hashim and that upon his enthronement he will be known as Paduka Mahasari Maulana Sultan Shariful-Hashim II.
The investiture ceremony is expected to take place in Jolo, the capital of Sulu Province in the Philippines in the next couple of months.
“With this new sultan of Sulu, I can guarantee that the Sulu sultanate will not touch Sabah. We are not going to authorise the Philippine government to claim Sabah as they have no rights whatsoever over Sabah,” he assured.
Proof of lineage
Albi said the sultanate of Sulu vehemently denounced all those self-proclaimed sultans of Sulu including those installed by the Philippine government and foreign powers in the past.
Among them he said was a Chinese citizen named Allen Neoh Weng Wah who proclaimed himself “King of Borneo, Sulu and Mindanao” in an “investiture” ceremony conducted in Hong Kong, last year. The video footage of the ceremony was even uploaded onto YouTube.
“Unlike the soon-to-be-enthroned sultan Shariful-Hashim II, all these so-called sultans of Sulu have no legitimacy or mandate from the Tausug people,” he stressed.
He especially rubbished those who claimed to have been installed as the Sulu sultan by the Philippine government.
“How can the head of a sovereign state be installed by another country? Some of them are not even citizens of Sulu. Can I, as a Tausug proclaim myself as sultan of America?” he asked.
He further noted that the soon-to-be-enthroned sultan has all the relevant historical and legal documents to prove that he is indeed the direct descendant of Paduka Mahasari Maulana Al-Marhum Sultan Shariful-Hashim, the founder and the first Sultan of Sulu Sultanate.
“On behalf of the Sulu sultanate, I am also delighted to announce that the barely known 1799 platinum box containing ancient royal documents and paraphernalia of the past sultans which were transferred out of the palace in 1862 during the time of Al-Marhum Sultan Muhammad Fadzlun
Pulalun that had been properly and secretly hidden, will be uncovered in due course.
“The key of the said box under code 1799 is in the possession of the incoming sultan. We appeal to all nations which are trustee custodians of these historical assets to be ready to deal with the government of the sultanate,” he said.
He said that the immense wealth and assets of the Sulu sultanate was the rationale behind the phenomenon of people all over the world clamouring to proclaim themselves as the sultan of Sulu sultanate.
The Sulu sultanate’s records show that there are some 24 “sultans of Sulu” in the Sulu Archipelago, while the US State Department’s record indicated that there are some 123 “sultans of Sulu” scattered around the world, he said.
Not part of Philippines
To show their support to the declaration, about 10,000 adherents coming from the different municipalities of Sulu provinces, Tawi-Tawi, Zamboanga Peninsula, Palawan and Sabah joined the parade around Jolo town.
They assembled at Plaza Tulay and held a rally for four days, before the declaration was duly signed and publicly read before a large crowd by Attorney Meltino Sibulan, the Sultanate’s legal counsel.
Albi said that this was to show “we are not part of the Philippines.
He said history and legal documents will prove that Sulu Sultanate is not part of Philippines.
“We are happy that the Philippine government is not reacting violently towards our peaceful assertion of independence.
“It’s just a matter of time that we bring our plight to the International Court of Justice to restore our sovereign rights and to demand for the peaceful and voluntary withdrawal of the Philippine forces in Sulu Province,” he added.
Historically, the Sulu Archipelago is said to comprise Basilan Province, Sulu Province, Tawi-Tawi Province, Zamboanga Peninsula, Palawan, Spratlys Islands and part of Borneo including part of Sabah.
It currently has a population of five million.
Albi is convinced that many of its citizens in Malaysia, who are currently working in the plantation and construction sectors, would voluntarily return to their homes when the rebuilding of Sulu Province begins.
He noted that the sultanate had since four years ago started issuing its own birth certificates and identity cards to its citizens.
“We can only start issuing our own international passport, currency and postage after we have successfully restored our independence,” he said.
‘Abu Sayaf are criminals’
Asked about the Sulu Sultanate’s stand on the notorious Abu Sayyaf militants, he categorically denounced their activities besides labelling them as criminals.
“They are outlaws and they are Filipinos, they are not Tausug,” he said and urged the sultan’s subjects currently living and working in Sabah to abide by Malaysian laws.
The press conference which was supposed to start at 11am was delayed due to an impromptu “interview” of Albi by the Special Branch officers, who were present throughout the event.
Apart from the local media, an RTM crew was also at the venue at a four-star Tang Dynasty Park hotel.
Also present was his entourage of senior officials including the sultanate’s deputy prime minister Datu Wadduhaid A Kalbi; its assistant deputy prime minister for Tawi-Tawi Province, Sharip Salman B Sharif Usman; Binnajar B Sihan, its Defence Minister; Hadja Safina Radjaie, its Social Welfare Minister, its legal counsel Meltino Sibulan, and its various representatives (Datu Paduka Wazir) in Sabah, such as Sandakan, Tawau and Lahad Datu.
They are currently in Sabah for private visits to their relative-cum-special adviser, Mohd Akjan Ali Muhammad, who is also chairman of Pertubuhan Kebajikan dan Dakwah Islamiah Malaysia or Pekida Malaysia, Sabah Division.