KUALA LUMPUR: Sabah is not a political football to be kicked around to shore up domestic support, Minister of Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government Abdul Rahman Dahlan tells Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte today.
Taking to Twitter, Rahman reminded the incoming president that Sabah was part of Malaysia and should not be used to gain a political high-five.
“Amazing that president-elect Duterte’s first few foreign affairs statements are to offend Malaysians by claiming Sabah belongs to the Philippines!
“President Duterte must quickly realise that Sabah is not to be his political football to be kicked around to shore up his domestic support.
“Sabah shall remain a sovereign territory of Malaysia. No amount of political grandstanding coming from the Philippines, will ever change that,” said Rahman in a series of tweets responding to Duterte’s recent announcement to pursue his country’s claim on the state.
He also dubbed Duterte’s plan as nothing more than just “amateurish politics” that had no place within the Asean spirit.
“Asean leaders should focus on integrating our economies and prosper together.
“Reviving historical and long settled territorial claims won’t help,” said Rahman who is also Sabah BN secretary and MP for Kota Belud.
Duterte was reported to have vowed to regain Sabah and said he would recognise the claim of the Sulu Sultanate over the state which was transferred by the British government to the Federation of Malaysia in 1963.
The Philippines claimed Sabah was leased but not ceded to the British North Borneo Co.
However the Malaysian government has maintained that Sabah is part of Malaysia. The conflict however reached a climax in 2013 when followers of Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram forced their way into Lahad Datu, resulting in dozens of Malaysian security personnel dying in the clash.