Misuari volunteers as Sabah mediator

DAVAO CITY, Philippines - Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) founding chairman Nur Misuari has told Malaysia he is willing to help in talks to resolve the Sabah standoff peacefully.

“It is my message to Malaysian Prime Minister Najjib Razak that I am ready to send my grand-nephew who is his cousin to open up talks,” Misuari told reporters at the celebration of his 71st birthday here on Sunday, March 3.

Misuari said he is also willing to personally go to Malaysia to help end the crisis.

Malaysia has not responded to his offer, Misuari added. But he said he was concerned about the children and women in Lahad Datu who "are now facing starvation and danger."

TROOPS. MNLF members prepare for the arrival of Nur Misuari in Davao City. Photo by Karlos Manlupig

TROOPS. MNLF members prepare for the arrival of Nur Misuari in Davao City.

Photo by Karlos Manlupig

Misuari also denied allegations he is funding the armed men involved in the Sabah standoff.

Followers of the Sultan of Sulu sailed to Sabah last month to revive the Sabah claim. The Philippine government appealed to them to return home but they refused.

The situation turned violent last Friday, March 1, when Malaysian security forces launched an assault on Lahad Datu, killing 12 Filipinos. The assault also killed two Malaysian police.

Dr. Samsula Adju, member of the Bangsamoro National People’s Parliament, said the move made by Sultan Jamalul Kiram only shows that the Sabah claim is very much alive.

He added that the MNLF would also not call for the surrender of those who opted to “return to their home” but would instead urge the Philippine government to act on the issue. “This is an active claim. I want the Philippine government to act with determination. These men would not go there and sacrifice their lives if only the government handled this issue,” Adju said.

Misuari had enjoyed good ties with Malaysia in the past as it allowed the MNLF to seek sanctuary in Sabah under the Marcos regime.

But Malaysian security forces also arrested him in Sabah in 2001, after he fled Sulu following a botched revolt in the province. The arrest led to his detention in the Philippines. - Rappler.com