On 16th July 2012, Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim flew to Jakarta to meet Nur Misuari — who is very close to Anwar since the days when Anwar was in the government — and the military commanders of the MNLF.
The meeting was held in the Crowne Plaza Jakarta hotel and was arranged by an Indonesian Member of Parliament — another close friend of Anwar — at the behest of Anwar.
A second meeting was held in Manila on 4th August 2012 to finalise and seal the agreement. Anwar flew to Manila on flight MH 704 and if you were to check these flight details you can confirm that Anwar did make this trip, as he did the trip to Jakarta just two weeks or so earlier.
In that meeting, Anwar told Misuari that he needs the latter’s help to win the coming general election. Pakatan Rakyat was confident of winning at least 82-85 of the 165 seats in West Malaysia. It was the 57 seats in Sabah, Sarawak and Labuan that he was not confident of winning.
Pakatan Rakyat needs to win at least 30 of those 57 East Malaysian seats to be able to form the federal government with an extremely slim but comfortable enough majority. (Anwar can always increase this majority later with crossovers from Barisan Nasional once they form the government).
And for that to happen Anwar needs the support of the Muslims in East Malaysia, in particular in Sabah, many of them Filipino Muslims with Malaysian citizenship and voting rights.
Anwar promised Misuari that in the event Pakatan Rakyat takes over the federal government, Sabah and Sarawak would be given autonomy, as what they had been fighting for over 42 years since 1970.
These two East Malaysian states would also be given 20% oil royalty, an increase of 15% from the current 5%. This would ensure that these two states would become very wealthy — an estimated RM4 billion a year for each state.
Furthermore, all the non-Malaysian Filipinos in East Malaysia would be given Malaysian citizenship — or at the very minimum permanent resident status — so that they could seek employment in Sabah. Jobs for them will also be assured.
Nur Misuari agreed to these terms and subsequently appointed Haji Ibrahim Omar as the MNLF coordinator or ‘unofficial ambassador’ to Sabah to help Anwar garner the support of the Filipino Muslims in that state.
And that was why the Malaysian government hesitated to take drastic action when trouble first emerged in Lahad Datu. The government knew that there was more than meets the eye in this whole episode although it was not too clear yet at that time how this incident fit in to the bigger scheme of things.
To leave things alone is certainly out of the question. But taking military action would only play into the hands of the conspirators and convince the Filipino Muslims in Sabah that they must unite behind Anwar to gain autonomy from the federal government.
Yes, the Lahad Datu incident was certainly a ‘wayang’, as the opposition claims. Very few Malaysians would deny that this is so. Many Malaysians are also convinced that there are certain ‘dalang’ behind this incident.
Read in full in Malaysia Today HERE