Ending the Lahad Datu stand-off

COMMENT It was not unintentional that the Sulu invaders ended up in Kampong Tandou near Lahad Datu in Sabah. They are here not because their boats ran adrift.

They came armed and prepared to stake their long-standing claim to land they believe was owned by their ancestors. They are adamant they won’t return to their place of origin empty handed.

From the statements reported to be issued by Malacanang Palace in Manila, we can assume that the intruders have the moral support of Filipinos.

If it can be established that the last ‘rent for the use of Sabah’ was really paid in 1963, then all the more we will not be able to arbitrarily dismiss their claim as illegitimate.

Singapore’s strength in claiming sovereignty over Pulau Batu Puteh depended very much on just a short letter by the acting Johor state secretary of 1953.

History and legitimacy of the claims aside, the home minister cannot just pray and hope for the stand-off to extinguish itself. Armed intrusion into the country is a separate matter entirely and must be confronted without hesitation, regardless of the nationality of the people involved.

The intruders must be told in no uncertain terms that they are now in our territory and must observe and conform to the laws of our country. Whatever is discussed must be on our terms, not theirs. We talk, they listen and not the other way round.

They must be made to put down their arms and surrender, and face the full weight of our laws. If they refused to obey, the security forces must apply their rules of engagement. It is not that we want to see bloodshed, but this is how our sovereignty should be preserved and defended.

This is not a task for the faint-hearted or indecisive commanders.

None of the invaders, regardless of their race, religion or age, should be allowed to return home scot free. They have to a great extent deprived the local population of free movement and attention to daily routine.

If the invaders think they have a legitimate claim over Sabah – for that matter, even if the land is no bigger than a football field – then we have the International Court of Justice to adjudicate on the matter. Our citizens will never get kind treatment in other countries if they are caught committing crimes.

Ending the Lahad Datu stand-off
Mat Zain Ibrahim
Feb 20, 2013 – Malaysiakini

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