WebClick Tracer

SHE TALKS PEACE: 5300 Malaysian Ringgits Yesterday, $14.92 Billion Today (The Sabah Claim)

mindaview she talks peace thumbnail

QUEZON CITY (MindaNews / 21 August) — In our podcast today, we discussed the situation of female ex-combatants in Aceh with Dr. Arifah Rahmawati.  I started the conversation on “She Talks Peace” with my cohost, Dr. Ayesah Abubakar, dreaming of what we would do, if we had hundreds of millions of pesos from the Sabah Claim.  


Dear readers, I thought that you might wish to know a little more about the Claim, as the French Arbitration Court has ruled in favor of the claimants.   I have always been personally interested in the claim and have written about it in the past since my father, the late Ambassador Abraham Rasul Sr. was the wazir or prime minister of Sultan Esmail Kiram (who authorized the Philippine Government to pursue the claim) and his son Sultan Mahakuttah.  As well, my mother, Senator Santanina T. Rasul, was requested by both Presidents Corazon C. Aquino and Fidel V. Ramos to bring the Sabah heirs together to discuss the claim.

In 1878, Sultan Jamalul Alam, the Sultan of Sulu, signed an agreement to lease Sabah to Baron Von Overbeck of the British East India Trading Company.  The company paid an annual rent of 5,300 Mexican Pesos.  This company was later absorbed by the British North Borneo Company which, in 1946, transferred sovereign rights over Sabah to Britain.  When the Federation of Malaya won its independence from Britain, Sabah was one of the territories turned over to it.  The rental money was later converted to 5,300 Malaysian Ringgits.  Malaysia dutifully paid the heirs of Sultan Jamalul annually until the Philippine Government filed its case in the International Court of Justice.  

5,300 ringgits per year for Sabah? That’s P66,000.  Rent for a dilapidated house in a slum area would cost more than that.  Well, the French Arbitration Court agreed.  Last Feb 28, it ruled on the case, “Heirs to the Sultanate of Sulu v. Malaysia.”  The court decided in favor of the Sultan Jamalul’s heirs, based on the Macaskie Decision, and ordered Malaysia  to pay to Claimants the amount of USD 14.92 billion plus interest and reimbursement of their legal fees. In 1939, Chief Justice C. F. C. Macaskie of the High Court of North Borneo ruled and recognized Sultan Jamalul’s heirs to Sabah and their shares:   Dayang-dayang Hadja Piandao Kiram (3/8), Princess Tarhata Kiram (3/16), Princess Sakinurin Kiram (3/16), Mora Napsa (1/24), Esmail Kiram (1/24), Punjungan Kiram (1/24), Mariam Kiram (1/24), Rada Kiram (1/24) and Jahara Kiram (1/24).   Thus, my father, the late Ambassador Abraham Rasul, and his siblings are heirs.  This was recognized by the late Princess Denchurain (daughter of Princess Tarhata). 

Dayang-Dayang Hadji Piandao Kiram, wife of the Sultan, was childless. Therefore her cousins, nieces and nephews will divide her 3/8 share.  Among her cousins was my grandmother, Hadja Salma, wife of Senator (Note: Hadji Butu, Wazir or Prime Minster to  Sultans Badaruddin, Jamalul Kiram and Harun. Hadji Butu was a descendant of Mantiri Asip, prime minister of Raja Baginda, a Sumatran prince who conquered Jolo in 1390. Traditionally, the wazirs come from the line of Mantiri Asip.   When Hadji Butu died in 1938, Dayang-Dayang Jadji Piandao was by his bedside with Hadji Salma, according to the New York Times.)

The Malaysian Government has rejected the decision of the French court.  What will our government do?  Will our government support the claim of its citizens? At the very least, the monetary award – at least P850 billion – would be a welcome resource for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region, and thus the Philippines.   The claimants are Tausug from Sulu.  We can assume that they would invest some of that in their home province.   That is if we can persuade  Malaysia to finally settle the proprietary claim of the heirs.

President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr.  vowed not to “abandon even one square inch” of  Philippine territory in his State of the Nation Address.  However,  the sovereign claim over Sabah is very complicated.  But the proprietary claim of the heirs is not as complex.  Considering the size of the award, shouldn’t our government move to protect the rights of its citizens? Especially since an international court has already ruled in our favor.  And there are at least P850 billion reasons why.


Meanwhile, do listen to our conversation with Dr. Arifah Rahmawati on “She Talks Peace” and find out why the female ex-combatants of Aceh joined the armed struggle and what has happened to them since.  It is a tragic story.

“She Talks Peace” is available on Spotify, Google, Apple podcasts and other platforms.
(MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. Amina Rasul is President of the Philippine Center for Islam and Democracy and host of the “She Talks Peace” podcast)

Your perspective matters! Leave a comment below and let us know what you think. We welcome diverse viewpoints and encourage respectful discussions. Don't hesitate to share your ideas or engage with others.

Search MindaNews

Share this MindaNews story
Send us Feedback