Sabah still studying plan to set up repository of historical documents

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah has not abandoned its plans to set up a research centre to give a proper perspective of the state’s historical events, including its ties with the Sulu Sultanate.

State Local Government and Housing Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun said he had suggested the creation of the “Research Centre for North Borneo History” as a depository of all documents and research papers on Sabah’s history.

He said the centre could be placed under the Sabah Institute of Development Studies (IDS).

“I have only made a suggestion to get the repository started. Perhaps the repository would eventually evolve into a ‘stand-alone’ institute or body,” he said.

Masidi was asked if the State was still pursuing calls for a historical repository be set up especially to counter Sulu claims.

In April this year, Sabah Attorney General Datuk Nor Asiah Mohd Yusof said that there were no plans to create a repository on the Sulu claims issue under the state Attorney General’s office.

However, Nor Asiah said the state government was open to feedback and suggestions that would help put an end to the issue of illegitimate Sabah claims by any individuals or groups.

She explained that issues involving claims by the self-proclaimed heirs of the defunct Sulu sultanate were handled by the Federal government through the Attorney General’s Chambers (AGC) and Foreign Ministry.

Sabah Law Society (SLS) has been pressing the state government to set up a repository that will put in place a proper and documented perspective of Sabah’s history with regard to the Sulu sultanate for the Federal government’s reference.

SLS president Roger Chin said such a legal repository was best placed under the Sabah AG office, which would then have in hand the full historical background and legal arguments of the case.

The proposal for the repository came after a April 5 webinar organised by SLS on the Philippines/Sulu claims, with speakers included former attorney general Tan Sri Tommy Thomas, Singapore-based Queen’s Counsel Dr Colin Ong and former Sabah chief minister Datuk Seri Yong Teck Lee.

The webinar highlighted that the collection of information, including crucial historical information, was haphazard and spread out over disparate individuals.

Thomas had also said that when he was attorney general, he was not aware of certain historical documents when handling the Federal government’s case against the so-called Sulu heirs.

Sabah does not recognise the Sulu claim.

Issues to strengthen Malaysia and Sabah’s arguments against the Sulu claims came about after a Paris arbitration court’s decision to award RM64bil to Sulu heirs earlier this year. Malaysia has filed an appeal against the decision.