Abraham Idjirani, Sultanate Secretary General

MANILA — The Sultanate of Sulu has reactivated a shadow government in Sabah (North Borneo) that had been in place long before the disputed territory was annexed to the Federation Malaysia in 1963, a Daily Tribune source said on Friday.

“The Sultanate traditional government is now discreetly functioning to assist the religious, legal and other needs of the more than one million Filipinos — mostly Tausug residents — in Sabah,” the source said.

Abraham Idjirani, Sultanate Secretary General, confirmed the existence of an alternative government that openly cooperated with the British in the past. He declined to elaborate to protect the identity of state leaders, however.

He also said the veterans of the 2013 Lahad Datu siege have regrouped in Sulu to assert their historic and legal rights over the disputed territory.

The Daily Tribune source also said the Lahad Datu siege has become the rallying point for the quest to recover Sabah.

Idjirani added that of the more than 200 Tausug warriors who landed in Lahad Datu, only 60 were killed in action. The rest, including their leader, Crown Prince Rajah Muda Agbimmudin, were able to return safely to Sulu. Some who are already Sabah residents, remained on the island.

He also said the traditional government openly cooperated with the British civil authorities in running the affairs of the state but went underground after Malaysia took over the islands.

The sultanate at this point, he said, seeks the help of countries that signed arms and trade pacts with them in the past.

Among the countries that recognized the sultanate and honored exiting treaties include the United States, China, Great Britain and the Netherlands.

The Carpenter–Kiram agreement was forged on 24 March 1915 between the US and the late Jumalul Kiram II, Sultan of Sulu and North Borneo.

The pact between Frank Carpenter, the US-appointed governor of Mindanao and Kiram, focused on the American commitment to place the Sultanate under its protection and flag and the articulation under the 1899 Kiram-Bates Treaty that Sabah is wholly under lease to the British North Borneo Company.

The Carpenter-Kiram agreement is still in effect because the US Congress did not revoke it, although the Bates agreement was rescinded by US President William McKinley in 1905.

He said the Sultanate appeals to the US to fulfill the provisions of the 1915 agreement when the US assured full protection should a question on North Borneo arise between the Sultanate and any foreign country.

“The Sultanate of Sulu is now asking the US to help in pursuing its proprietary claim over the disputed territory” he said.