COTABATO CITY (MindaNews/21 September) – Malaysian Ambassador to the Philippines Dato’ Seri Dr. Ibrahim Saad said Malaysia wants the conflict between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) “settled as soon as possible” as he expressed optimism about the soon-to-resume peace talks.
Malaysia has been the third party facilitator in the talks between the Philippine government and the MILF since 2001.
Saad, who took over in July, also cited “political will” as a major factor and stressed he thinks there is “political will.”
“Peace treaties are not just achieved by one, two, three points. You need political will to solve this,” he said.
The Malaysian envoy acknowledged arrangements are being made for the meeting in New York this month between President Aquino and Malaysian Prime Minister Najib, who, he said, had given them instructions to “settle this as soon as possible.”
Like President Aquino, the Malaysian Prime Minister also hopes a peace pact could be forged while they are still the leaders.
“We do not want to go against the will of our Prime Minister,” he told a press conference after the opening rites of the two-day ARMM Peace Summit that started Monday.
Malaysian Foreign Minister Dato’ Sri Anifah Hj Aman met with President Aquino on September 14 “to convey Prime Minister Najib’s positive intentions for Malaysia to continue to assist the GRP-MILF peace process.”
Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Quintos-Deles said “further exchanges will take place including a possible meeting of the two leaders to personally discuss the matter.”
President Aquino has left for New York to attend the United Nations General Assembly and the US-Association of Southeast Asian Nations meeting.
Deles told reporters in Davao City last September 15 that “as of this time, the GRP panel has completed its preparations for the resumption of talks. We are hopeful that the first meeting can be held before November.”
Saad. who was asked if the talks would resume in October, given that his Prime Minister and President Aquino will still meet in New York this month to discuss the peace process, told reporters the Malaysian government will still present the list of “would be facilitators” to President Aquino.
He declined to say if the former facilitator Datuk Othman bin Abdul Razzak, from the Office of Malaysian Prime Minister, would be among the names that would be submitted. “What do you think?” he replied.
He said Malaysia is not expecting anything in return for facilitating the talks and that Sabah is not an issue in the peace process.
Historical accounts show that Sabah, then known as North Borneo, was leased by the Sultanate of Sulu in 1878 to a British company with the provisions that it could not be transferred to any person, company or nation without the consent of the Sultan of Sulu.
The British took over Malaya and Sabah and continued to pay the rent for Sabah to the Sultan of Sulu. The British left Malaya and Sabah in 1963 when the Federation of Malaysia was formed, but instead of returning the Sabah property to the Sultan of Sulu, it was transferred to Malaysia without the consent of the Sultan of Sulu. (Carolyn O. Arguillas/MindaNews)