KOTA KINABALU: Parti Warisan Sabah (Warisan) has accused Defence Minister Hishammuddin Hussein of trying to sweep aside the issue of the Philippines’ claim over Sabah by diverting attention to the threat of the Islamic State (IS) terrorist group, also known as Daesh.
Its secretary-general Loretto Padua Jr said Hishammuddin’s parliamentary reply to Warisan president and Semporna MP Shafie Apdal yesterday, showed that the Barisan Nasional (BN) federal government was hiding behind the IS threat, instead of seeking a permanent solution to the territorial claim.
“I don’t see the connection between the Philippine claim and Daesh threat because the latter is a global security issue, and the Philippines and Malaysian governments have to cooperate with each other to overcome the crisis,” he said.
Hishammuddin, who is Sembrong MP, was reported to have said in the Dewan Rakyat that the claim over Sabah was not an issue of priority compared to the security threat in the region posed by the IS.
“The federal government should be seeking the solutions to both problems,” Loretto said in a statement today.
“Therefore we demand that Hishammuddin and Sabah chief minister Musa Aman explain to Sabahans how the government’s effort to make the Philippines drop its claim can undermine efforts to beat Daesh,” Loretto said.
He said he believed the main reason for the claim on Sabah was the incessant arrival of illegal immigrants from southern Philippines to the state.
“The Philippine government is saying Sabah belongs to them. Therefore southern Filipinos dare keep coming illegally to the state.
“This is why Sabahans are fed up with the BN’s inertia and lack of initiatives in tackling this issue,” he said.
“And the Sabah government should’ve formed its own committee by now to handle this claim and detailed efforts to fight it at the International Court of Justice,” he added.
Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte said last month that he would pursue his claim over oil-rich Sabah through peaceful means.