PETALING JAYA: Foreign Minister Anifah Aman has cautioned Parti Warisan Sabah not to broach the sensitive issue of the Philippines’ reported claims over Sabah in order to serve its own “gutter politics”.
The Umno MP for Kimanis in Sabah said the allegation by Warisan secretary-general Loretto Padua Jr that the government did not want to conclusively resolve the claim made by the Philippines was baseless, provocative and misleading.
“The Foreign Ministry has repeated the government’s position that the Philippine claim is without basis,” he said.
“Sabah has been recognised by the United Nations and the international community as part of Malaysia since its formation on 16 September 1963.
“As such, Malaysia does not recognise and will not entertain any claims by any party on Sabah,” he added in a statement today
On July 28, Loretto accused Defence Minister Hishammuddin Hussein of trying to divert attention from a parliamentary question on the claim, posed by Warisan president and Semporna MP Shafie Apdal the day before, by bringing up the threat of the Islamic State (IS) in the region.
He said it showed that the Barisan Nasional (BN) federal government was hiding behind the IS threat, instead of seeking a permanent solution to the claim made by the Philippines.
Loretto 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,” Loretto said.
“This is why Sabahans are fed up with the BN’s inertia and lack of initiatives in tackling this issue,” he claimed.
Anifah said Shafie, who left Umno after he was dropped as a cabinet minister in 2015, was well aware of the Malaysian government’s position on the matter.
“By the same token he is also well aware that this matter falls within the jurisdiction of the minister of foreign affairs and not the minister of defence, and his party’s subsequence response is mostly an attempt to show confusion and mislead the people,” Anifah said.
“This is disappointing since a matter of this importance and sensitivity must not be the subject of gutter politics,” he added.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said last month he would pursue his claim over oil-rich Sabah through peaceful means.