Malaysia’s masterstroke that buried our Sabah claim
The “Jabidah” question
Second of Three Parts
Malaysia’s leadership have been probably laughing their heads off reading about President Aquino delivering a speech in the event commemorating the alleged 1968 “Jabidah massacre” of Muslim youths initially recruited to form a commando unit codenamed to infiltrate Sabah.
It was the “Jabidah” allegations that hugged headlines for several days in 1968 that buried our claim to that territory in Borneo.
This was due to three of its consequences:
- The publicity over the alleged massacre enraged thousands of Muslim youth to swell the ranks of the fledgling Moro National Liberation Front. Malaysia after “Jabidah” not only gave it substantial finances, but also even militarily trained its first officers and provided sanctuary to its leaders. President Marcos’ Operation Merdeka (“Freedom”) was intended to create a Tausug rebellion in Sabah. Instead, because of allegations of a massacre of Muslims by Marcos’ army, it was a Muslim rebellion that broke out in Mindanao, aided by Malaysia.
- The Malaysian involvement proved to be crucial to the MNLF’s strength that by 1976 Marcos declared that the only way to end the insurgency is to give up the Sabah claim so that Malaysia would stop its crucial support of the secessionists.
- In the public consciousness, the allegation of such an atrocity as a “Jabidah massacre” was tightly linked to the Philippine claim to Sabah. Indeed writers who have been passionate in claiming a massacre occurred expectedly denigrated the claim as merely due to “Marcos expansionist tendencies.” It therefore became an unpopular agenda to champion. Since 1968, no politician would touch with a ten-foot pole our Sabah claim. That attitude ended only as a result of the bold but bloody expedition to Sabah recently by the Sulu of Sultan’s fighters. (more…)