Sulu sultan who claimed Sabah dies-A A +A
Sunday, October 20, 2013
MANILA (Updated) -- Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III, whose armed followers invaded a vast Malaysian region that left dozens of people dead earlier this year, died of multiple organ failure on Sunday at the age of 75.
Jacel Kiram-Hasan, the sultan's daughter, said in a radio interview that her father had been battling kidney problems.
She said Kiram was confined at the Philippine Heart Center on Thursday and died at 4 a.m. of Sunday due to "organ failure."
Kiram's wife, Fatima Celia, said before her husband died, he ordered his family and followers to continue laying claim to Sabah state in Malaysia.
The sultan, who is set to be buried in his hometown, Maimbung, in Sulu, had eight children with two wives and will likely be replaced by his younger brother, Esmail Kiram II, in a succession often marred in the past by clan infighting and claims by fake descendants of the once-powerful Muslim royalty.
Kiram’s Muslim sultanate, although largely forgotten and dismissed as a vestige from a bygone era, stirred up a security crisis in Malaysia in February this year when his younger brother and about 200 followers, some armed, barged in Lahud Datu, Sabah.
Malaysia sent ground troops and launched airstrikes that resulted in a standoff that killed dozens of people. [Read: Sabah standoff over; 3 die in assault
The Kirams claim Sabah has belonged to their sultanate for centuries and was only leased to Malaysia, which they say pays them a paltry annual rent.
However, Malaysian officials contend that the payments are part of an arrangement under which the sultanate has ceded the 74,000 square kilometers (28,000 square miles) of Sabah territory to their country.
The Kiram sultanate, which emerged in the 1400s, built a legend for its wide influence at the time and its feared Tausug warriors. Chinese and European leaders once sent vassals to pay homage to their powerful forebears, sultanate spokesman Abraham Idjirani said. The Sulu sultanate preceded both the Philippine republic and Malaysia by centuries.
But overrun by history, the Kirams now carry royal titles and nothing much else. They, however, still have hundreds of followers in Sulu and nearby southern provinces.
"I'm the poorest sultan in the world," an ailing Kiram said in an interview in March at his rundown residence in a Muslim village in Manila. (AP/PNA/Sunnex)