Spain agreed to relinquish its territory in Borneo to the British under the Madrid Protocol 1885.
Succeeding Brunei Sultans, said senior Sabah lawyer Amde Sidik, denied that any part of North Borneo was ever given to Sulu. “Only the weight of Sulu tradition supports the claim. The weight of Brunei tradition challenges it.”
Spain agreed to relinquish its territory in Borneo to the British under the Madrid Protocol 1885, he added. “The Protocol found the Sulu Sultanate became defunct when the last Sultan died without leaving a male heir.”
It’s ridiculous to entertain the Sabah claim, said Amde who also heads a think tank, Progressive Institute of Public Policy Analysis Sabah (PIPPA). “The latest was in 1962 when Sulu ceded sovereignty rights to the Philippines Government.”
“That too is history. The Philippines Government obviously has far more knowledge about the status of the claim than Sulu.”
Amde was commenting on Jacel Kiram’s campaign manifesto on her bid to enter the Philippines Senate. “She claims that she would revive her ancestor’s claim over Sabah if she wins.”
“It does not concern us whether she becomes Senator or otherwise.”
However, he added, harping on “history” which has no relevance was a different matter. “Sulu can’t claim Sabah.”
“Ninety nine per cent of Sabahans are not interested to be ruled by a defunct Sultanate. This must be made known.”
PIPPA, he pledged, was determined to lay the matter to rest once and for all. “We have undertaken extensive studies on this subject.”
“The findings will be made public soon.”
There were so many treaties, as well as overlapping treaties being signed, but only to be revoked soon after they were signed, continued Amde.
Among other writers, said Amde, L R Right in her “The Origin of British Borneo”, said there was considerable doubt on the legitimacy of the Sulu claims. “The claims were in many cases nothing more than legends written down to enhance the status of the ruling house.”
Three weeks before G B Overbeck signed a treaty with Sulu Sultan Jamalulazam on January 22, 1878, he signed an agreement with Sultan Abd Momin of Brunei, said Amde. “Mubin appointed Overbeck as Maharaja Sabah and Raja Gaya and Sandakan on December 29, 1877, an area from Bangi to Sungai Sibuku.”
“Jamalulazam appointed Overbeck as Datuk Bendahara and Raja Sandakan, an area from Kimanis to Sungai Sibuku.”