Royal heirs unite for Sabah claim

Queen Dayang, the acknowledged granddaughter of Sultan Jamalul, said the permanent lease agreement with Overbeck and Dent on 22 January 1878, or about 145 years ago, remains binding

Heirs of the Sultanate of Sulu attend the 145th-year commemoration of the 1878 signing of the agreement by His Royal Highness Sultan Jamalul Alam with Gustavus Baron de Overbeck and Alfred Dent, Esq. at the Garden Orchid Hotel in Zamboanga City on Sunday, 22 January 2023. | PHOTOGRAPH BY Nonoy Lacson FOR THE DAILY TRIBUNE

Heirs of the Sultanate of Sulu converged in Zamboanga City yesterday in an encouraging sign of solidarity as they embark on a crucial period in realizing sweet justice after the February ruling of the French arbitral court awarding $14.92 billion as compensation from Malaysia in their claim over Sabah.

The royal clan assembled to commemorate the 145th anniversary of the signing of the permanent lease agreement by the Sultan of Sulu Jamalul Alam with Gustavus Baron de Overbeck and Alfred Dent, Esq, representatives of the British crown.

Conflicts on the interpretation of the contract written in Arabic resulted in friction, which is dormant at the moment, between the Philippines and Malaysia and from which the historic Sabah claim of the heirs of the Sultan emanated.

On 28 February 2022, in a decision handed down at the arbitral proceedings that Malaysia refused to be part of, sole arbitrator Gonzalo Stampa ruled that the 1878 agreement between the Sultanate and British crown representative Baron de Overbeck was breached by Malaysia.

The French court consequently directed Malaysia to pay the heirs $14.92 billion representing the “restitution value of the rights over the leased territory” with 10 percent interest thereon, plus all “legal and expert costs.”

One voice

Queen Dayang Siha J. Astaluddin Mohammad Alam called on all descendants of the Sulu and North Borneo Sultanates to unite and have one voice and not to compete among themselves on who is the nearest descendant to the Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo if only to gain publicity.

About 300 of the sultan’s kin from all over Mindanao and Metro Manila congregated at the Garden Orchid Hotel in Zamboanga City to manifest their utmost support, loyalty, and commitment to Queen Dayang on her quest to regain North Borneo.

Pact remains in effect

Queen Dayang, the acknowledged granddaughter of Sultan Jamalul, said the permanent lease agreement with Overbeck and Dent on 22 January 1878, or about 145 years ago, remains binding.

Dressed in colorful royal attire, Queen Dayang led about 200 of their relatives from different communities in the country to commemorate the signing of the agreement.

During a simple commemorative program, Queen Dayang said “on this day, January 1878, or about 145 years ago, our forefather HRH Sultan Jamalul Alam signed a one-page document, written in Arabic characters in the Malay language, granting a permanent lease agreement with Gustavus Baron de Overbeck and Alfred Dent, Esq. to the territories he owns in North Borneo (Sabah).”

The document also indicated that the company of Overbeck and Dent has agreed to lease North Borneo for 5,000 Mexican dollars per annum.

Queen Dayang added that the signing ceremony was witnessed by Alejo Alvarez and Pedro Ortuoste and was attested and signed as a true transcript by a certain Tomas Aguirre on 16 July 1878 in Jolo, Sulu, she told the visitors.

She revealed to the visiting members of the Royal families that HRH Sultan JamalulAlam signed another document on the same day that designated De Overbeck as Datu Bandahara and Raja of Sandakan, with full powers to govern the territories.

At least 500 families who are the direct descendants of Sultan Jamalul stand as beneficiaries of the arbitral tribunal’s award.


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