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Jakarta Post

ASEAN is challenged by the Sabah issue, yet again

  • Gurjit Singh

    New Delhi

New Delhi   /   Sat, October 24 2020   /  01:00 am
Firefight: Malaysian soldiers fire mortars toward where gunmen are locked down in a standoff in villages in Tanduo in Sabah on March 8, 2013. Followers of the self-proclaimed Philippine sultan had launched a deadly incursion into the Malaysian territory(Malaysia Ministry of Defense/AFP)

The issue of Sabah or North Borneo, as it was known until 1963, was brushed under a legal carpet of convenience ever since the Malaysian Federation was formed. Sabah lies on the island of Borneo, the world’s third largest island astride the maritime routes of ASEAN. About 73 percent of the island is the territory of five Indonesian provinces. It proposes to have its new capital in the resource-rich island which it calls Kalimantan. The small country of Brunei is located on Borneo and the remainder is the territory of Sabah and Sarawak in Malaysia. The issue was reignited when the Philippines Foreign Secretary, Teodoro Locsin, Jr. challenged an innocuous United States Embassy tweet in July 2020 on humanitarian assistance to Filipinos who came from Sabah. The Filipino minister said Sabah was not in Malaysia. A diplomatic spat ensued with Malaysia, who also approached the United...