KOTA KINABALU, Feb 5 — There were individuals among those involved in the Sulu dispute and claims who allegedly played a role in the Lahad Datu incursion, Datu Omar Ali Datu Bachtiyal, who claims to be the rightful heir to the Sultanate of Sulu revealed.

Datu Omar Ali, 64, claimed that before the Tanduo tragedy unfolded, around 2008 and 2009, he was approached by Esmail Kiram II, who claimed to be the Sultan of Sulu, to join in the fight to claim Sabah from Malaysia, but he (Omar) firmly refused.

Without naming who among the group of Sulu dispute claimants were with Esmail, who died in 2015, in planning the incursion, Datu Omar Ali admitted to being shocked after they went ahead with the plan several years later.

“We knew later from news reports (of the incursion). I myself had been asked to be part of the Tanduo (incursion) but I declined,” he told Bernama recently.

In the Feb 11, 2013 tragedy, a group of 100 Sulu terrorists from Southern Philippines landed on the beach of Kampung Tanduo and a bloody battle took place with Malaysian security forces.

A total of 10 members of the security forces were killed, while at least 68 Sulu terrorists were shot dead in the incident.

After the intrusion was quelled, Tanduo was turned into a military campsite on March 15, 2013, under the Eastern Sabah Security Command (ESSCom) as part of the government’s efforts to monitor adverse elements.

The ESSCom area and the creation of the military campsite are part of the government's effort to monitor bad elements, especially to ensure there will be no repeat of the Tanduo incident.

Datu Omar Ali claims to be an heir from the lineage of Dayang Dayang Piandao, a princess and one of the administrators of the Sultanate of Sulu in 1936.

Dayang Dayang Piandao, who married Datu Ombra Amilbangsa, ascended the throne and became Sultanah in 1937. She reigned until her death in 1945.

Meanwhile, Datu Omar Ali’s son, Datuk Datu Mohd Fadli Fathullah, 36, claimed to have contacted Esmail to ask him not to go ahead with the planned incursion, but that request was ignored.

“He told me: You do not interfere, if you want to join us then do it, otherwise, do not interfere. He then ended the call and that was the last I was in touch with him. I did not want this (Tanduo tragedy) to happen, but it did,” Datu Mohd Fadli, who claimed that conversation took place in 2009, said.

The Sulu group was reported to have taken legal action in the Spanish courts to seek compensation for land in Sabah that was allegedly leased by their ancestors to a British trading company in 1878.

On Feb 28, 2022, purported arbitrator Dr Gonzalo Stampa was reported to have obtained a purported final award amounting to USD14.92 billion to the claimants (Sulu group) from a Paris Arbitration Court.

However, a court in France granted Malaysia a stay order on the award issued by Stampa pending the judicial decision of Malaysia's action to set it aside on the basis that the enforcement may threaten Malaysia's sovereignty over the Sabah region. — Bernama