KOTA KINABALU - A former Chief Minister wants Putrajaya to clarify reports that Malaysia is willing to entertain the idea of the possible inclusion of Sabah (and Sarawak) into the proposed Bangsamoro republic.
Datuk Yong Teck Lee, quoting a Philippines Star newspaper report, said a Malaysian emissary met with the secretary general of the Sulu Sultanate, and reported their stand that the Sulu Sultanate has proprietary rights over the disputed territories (of Sabah and Sarawak).
He claimed that the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) had received a formal invitation from an emissary of the Malaysian government "for exploratory talks on the inclusion of Sabah and Sarawak into the Bangsamoro republic."
“While I do not think for a moment that the Malaysian government is so mad as to give up Sabah, there is reason to worry that our officials might have sent a dangerously ambiguous message to the MNLF and other Moro groups that Malaysia is softening its stand on the Philippines/Sulu claim on Sabah.
"It is likely that MNLF and so-called Sulu sultanate officials will now spread the word that they (MNLF and Sulu Sultan) are going to succeed in their claim over Sabah in their propaganda war. Already, Sabah appears in some Filipino maps,” he said.
He believed such a wrong signal was possibly sent out by Malaysian bumbling bureaucrats.
Yong said Malaysia total rejection of the Philippines/Sulu claim on Sabah must be resolute, unambiguous and firm and backed by solid actions on the security, economic and diplomatic fronts.
“But, instead of being clear and firm, the Malaysian government seems to have sent a disastrously wrong signal to the Philippines that Malaysia is willing to entertain the idea of the possible inclusion of Sabah (and Sarawak) into the proposed Bangsamoro republic," he said Tuesday.
Yong warned that the consequences of mishandling the Philippines/Sulu claim on Sabah is much more severe and long lasting.
Yong who is also president of Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) also warned that this perceived softening of Malaysia's stand on the Philippine claim will re-energise the millions of Filipinos in the Southern Philippines, especially the Moros, that they have a chance of gaining Sabah.
“Any slight hint of success in their Sabah claim will embolden Filipinos, raise their false hopes and re-ignite cross border crimes. If this happens, it will be Sabahans who will have to pay a heavy price in time to come,” he added.