Sulu sultanate confirms Agbimuddin worked in Kudat, denies Malaysian citizenship claim
By Debra Chong
Assistant News Editor
March 20, 2013
KUALA LUMPUR, March 20 – Agbimuddin Kiram was a civil servant in a Sabah district office, a spokesman for the Sulu sultanate confirmed today, but denied the militant leader had been granted Malaysian citizenship as alleged just hours earlier by the opposition PKR.
Abraham Idjirani, the sultanate’s secretary-general, told Philippines media in Manila that Agbimuddin had served as an assistant district officer in Kudat on Sabah’s north, backing PKR’s statement earlier this morning, which was based on a 1975 Sabah government payroll dug up from the state’s archives.
Idjirani however, maintained that Agbimuddin – who is the younger brother to self-styled Sulu sultan Jamalul Kiram III – is Filipino and was never issued a Malaysian identity card as asserted by PKR.
“That time they said ‘bigyan nyo kami ng IC, sabi ng Sabah authorities kahit hindi kayo bigyan, kayo ang may-ari ng Sabah’ [‘give us IC cards, but Sabah authorities told them, ‘even if we don’t give you, you own Sabah anyway],” Idjirani was quoted as saying by Philippine news portal InterAksyon this afternoon.
He also said the Kirams, who are seeking to reclaim their 17th century ownership over the oil-rich north Borneo state now under Malaysian control, had lived in Sabah after the 1968 Jabidah massacre.
The Jabidah incident reportedly marked the killing of 27 Moro Muslim youths recruited for a top-secret mission to invade Sabah, at the hands of the Philippines armed forces during the Marcos administration, according to a report in The Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper yesterday.
Idjirani also said he had spoken with Agbimuddin this morning where the latter had narrowly escaped death in Sabah after fresh clashes against Malaysian security forces today.
The Sulu sultanate’s “raja muda” or crown prince had led a 200-strong band of gunmen into Lahad Datu last February 9 and turned the Sabah east coast into a violent battleground in their bid to retake the state.
Idjirani said Agbimuddin had only his prayer beads and was unarmed in the 10.30am skirmish but survive the face-to-face encounter with Malaysian security forces which felled two Sulu militants.
Jacel Kiram, who is Jamalul’s daughter, and was present at the same news conference as Idjirani, was reported saying two of Agbimuddin’s men had shielded him from the gunfight.
“Noong nagkaroon ng encounter, close daw, masyadong malapit, nakita ng tao n’ya (When an encounter occured it was really close and his men saw) that a gun was about to fire at Raja Muda so he covered the Raja Muda and his people died in the incident,” Jacel was quoted as saying.
Idjirani said only 166 of the 235 Filipinos who sailed to Sabah with Agbimuddin remained and repeated the sultanate’s plea to Philippine President Benigno Aquino III to take a stand on the Sabah conflict and to “postpone his campaign sorties”.