Tag: Sultan

Where is ASEAN?

Front page of a Malaysian newspaper March 11

The Manila Times, March 13, 2013

With the death toll of Filipino Muslims killed in Sabah by Malaysian authorities rising to 62 and with reports of human rights abuses against our countrymen, where the heck is ASEAN?

Forgotten it seems is the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, one of whose main purposes is to “promote regional peace and stability through abiding respect for justice and the rule of law in the relationship among countries of the region”.

Ban Ki Moon, the secretary-general of the United Nationswhich consists of 193 member states last week issued a statement calling for “dialogue among all parties to end the (Sabah) conflict peacefully. He also urged “all parties to facilitate delivery of humanitarian assistance and act in full respect of international human rights norms and standards.”

Why hasn’t there been a similar statement – even just an innocuous one like “ASEAN is concerned over the fighting” —  from ASEAN consisting of  just ten member countries, whose two founders, the Philippines and Malaysia,  are involved in this flashpoint in Southeast Asia?

Did our department of foreign affairs even ask ASEAN to persuade Malaysia not to throw its full, brutal force against the Sultan of Sulu’s men who had dug in in Lahad Datu and to give the government more time to talk to them?  Or did it just forget to ask ASEAN?Continue reading

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An impotent yet arrogant President

 

The front page of The Borneo Post: Note the description, "Sulu terrorists."

 

The Manila Times, March 11 2013

THE horrific reports have started to trickle in: Muslim Filipinos being rounded up in Sabah, locked up with some without food, “treated like animals” according to eyewitness accounts, sadistically ordered to run and then shot like wild game.

Photos in Kuala Lumpur newspapers depict Muslim Filipinos—clearly unarmed— pinned down brutally by uniformed armed men. Malaysia has brought its entire military force to bear down on the Sulu sultan’s men.

The Philippine ambassador to Malaysia and Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Jose Brilliantes— three weeks late in action though— were ignored in Sabah, their pleas to visit Filipinos detained there and for Malaysian authorities to allow our humanitarian ship dock at the port were not even given the courtesy of a reply.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto del Rosario stages a dramatic trip to Malaysia to ask its government to exercise “maximum tolerance” toward the Filipino Muslims who had holed out in Lahad Datu. Even while he waited for his plane, the Malaysians were deploying instead maximum force against the Filipinos there.

His trip turned out only justify the Malaysian onslaught against the Sulu sultan’s men, as his counterpart reported that he agreed that the Filipino Muslims were terrorists. Del Rosario didn’t say the Malaysian foreign minister lied, only that he was quoted: “Outof-context”—the worn-out excuse for officials trying to wiggle away from something they regretted saying.

We have a President impotent in handling the Sabah crisis. Worse, he and his spokesmen have even been issuing statements denigrating Muslim Filipinos who had dug in in Sabah in what they believe is their homeland.

Continue reading

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Almendras: Sabah crisis doesn’t need Cabinet meeting

The Manila Times, March 6, 2013

Here, in the US and elsewhere, the President (or the Prime Minister’s) Cabinet is not just collection of department heads or underlings,  but the “official family”, the collective, as it were, whose combined wisdom and experience the nation’s leader taps for him to arrive at the most appropriate decision on problems and crises confronting the nation.

Convening regular Cabinet meetings is a recognition by the Chief Executive that he does not have the monopoly of leadership wisdom that he needs to consult with those he appointed not only for their expertise in a particular field but because of their appreciation of national issues.  Since Cabinet members have,  or should have , their constituencies, captive audiences, or at least social networks, Cabinet meetings are also make up a mechanism for developing national consensus on  an important issue.

Except for Corazon Aquino and his son Benigno, it has been a practice for Philippine presidents – including the strongman Ferdinand Marcos – to regularly convene their Cabinets, especially to formulate a strategy to deal with a national crisis.

While the Sabah crisis has become a national crisis, one that has taken and will take the lives of many Muslim Filipinos who believe they are fighting for what is theirs and that of the country, Cabinet Secretary Rene Almendras said February 20:

“I don’t think you need to call a full Cabinet meeting. I can assure you that the President is on top of the situation. It is just that there are some things that are best handled in smaller groups so it’s not a full Cabinet issue.”Continue reading

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Malaysian spokesman Dato Aquino?

The Manila Times, March 4, 2013

 “Is (Interior Secretary) Mar Roxas now the spokesperson for Malaysia (by claiming) that Malaysia will not talk to us? ”  angrily asked Sultan Sultan Jamalul Kiram 3rd,  whose men led by the crown prince Raja Muda defied Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak and President Benigno S. Aquino 3rd’s ultimatum for them to leave Sabah, or else.

Kiram though should be also asking that question rather to Roxas’ boss: Mr. Aquino, and I’m afraid the answer would be in the affirmative, so much so that Malaysia should confer on him one of its honorific titles that can be given to foreigners, like Dato.

“There will be no compromise; either they surrender or face the consequences,” the Malaysian prime minister was quoted in The Borneo Post the other day.  “Surrender now, without conditions,  Aquino for his part announced.

Check out everything Aquino said since the crisis broke out in February 13 — and you can easily do this in this day and age through the Internet– and you will realize that  he never made even the vaguest reference that the Philippines claims Sabah as its territory, and that is the root of the crisis.Continue reading

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