The Sulu sultan’s army did not participate during the battle between the two sultans of Brunei, Sultan Muhyddin and Sultan Abdul Mubin, in 1660.
It was only after Muhyddin had won, the Sulu army landed and took the opportunity to seize a number of war boaties.
The Sulu army were terrified by the resistance of Sultan Abdul Mubin in Pulau Chermin, according to Pehin Mohd Jamil Al Sufri, a renowned Brunei historian in his “Tarsilah Brunei II Period of Splendor and Fame” (2007).
He did not deny the fact that the Sulus were invited and promised the northern territory of Brunei, then part of Sabah, but only if they helped him to win. The civil war lasted 11 years.
During the battle for Pulau Chermin, Sulu forces were supposed to attack the island from Pulau Keingaran and from the sea, but they did not do so. According to Pehin Mohd Jamil, Sultan Muhyddin refused to cede the territory claimed by Sulu.
The area was only “claimed”, not ceded.
This issue must be clarified to Malaysians and to the world at large, to counter the claim of Jacel Kiram’s manifesto campaign in her bid to become a senator in the Philippine parliament.
It does not concern us if she becomes senator or not, but harping on history, which has no more relevance, claiming our Sabah state is theirs of which 99% Sabahans are not interested to be ruled by the defunct sultanate, this must be made known.
Among other writers, LR Right in her “The Origin of British Borneo 1970”, said the legitimacy of Sulu claims is in considerable doubt partly because of the unreliability of tarsilas such as “Selesilah” which in many cases are nothing more than legend to enhance the status of the royal house.
Succeeding sultans of Brunei have denied that North Borneo was ever given to Sulu, only the weight of Sulu tradition supports the claim.
Such a claim is resting on the treaty signed by Sultan Sulu, Jamalulazam, with GB Overbeck on January 22, 1878, where Overbeck was appointed as Datuk Bendahara and Raja Sandakan an area from Kimanis to Sungai Sibuku, but three weeks earlier, the same Overbeck signed an agreement with Sultan Abd Mubin of Brunei.
Mubin appointed Overbeck as Maharaja Sabah and Raja Gaya and Sandakan on December 29, 1877, an area from Bangi to Sungai Sibuku.
There were so many treaties as well as overlapping treaties being signed but only to be revoked soon after there were signed, so to speak. Among them were Treaty Bases of Peace & Capitulation in 1878, which Sultan Sulu signed with the Spanish, agreeing that Sulu ceded its sovereignty to Spain including the “claimed” eastern Borneo. Also, the Madrid Protocol in 1885, when Spain agreed to relinquish its Borneo territory to Britain.
On April 22, 1903, Sultan Jamlulul Kiram signed an agreement “Confirmation of Cession of Island” granting sovereignty to British Borneo Company.
It sounds ridiculous to entrain such claims and the latest was in 1962, when the Sulu ceded it sovereignty to the Philippine government. Obviously, the Philippines looks far better knowledgeable on the status of claims than the Sulu. – February 14, 2016.