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“If I meet Duterte, I would defend Sabah’s sovereignty,” says Malaysian PM Najib Razak, Malaysian state’s sovereignty cannot be questioned



Duterte was previously reported in several Philippine news outlets saying his administration recognises Sabah as Sulu sultanate territory, which is being claimed by the Kiram clan that was behind the 2013 Lahad Datu invasion. ― Reuters pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 28 ― The federal government treats Sabah’s security and wellbeing as a priority, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said today.

Malaysians and tourists in the northeasternmost state neighbouring the Philippines have been targeted as hostages by militant Islamist groups seeking to finance its separatist activities in recent months while Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has also declared an intention to pursue a decades-old claim on Sabah shortly after taking office.

“If I meet Duterte, I would defend Sabah’s sovereignty,” Najib was quoted by The Star Online as saying at the joint opening of four Sabah Umno divisions in Kudat.

According to the news portal, the prime minister made no direct mention of Duterte’s claim on Sabah, but said the Malaysian state’s sovereignty cannot be questioned and would be defended.

Najib was also reported to saying Malaysia could face similar terror bombing incidents like those that happened recently in France and Turkey, the latest attack in its southeastern province of Sirnak two days ago killing 11 people and wounding 78 others.

But he gave an assurance that Malaysia’s security forces are on high alert and capable of responding to potential strikes.

Earlier today, French newswire AFP reported Philippine officials confirmed a group of 50 heavily armed members of Muslim extremist group Maute raided a local jail in the republic’s southern province of Iligan yesterday, freeing eight of their comrades and 22 other criminal suspects.

The Maute group, suspected to have links with global terror network Islamic State, is believed to have attacked a Philippine army outpost in the Mindanao town of Butig in February that ended in numerous deaths and forced tens of thousands to flee.

In June, the Philippine Inquirer reported Duterte saying he will revive his country’s claim on resource-rich Sabah, though he added that it would be done through peaceful means.

Duterte was previously reported in several Philippine news outlets saying his administration recognises Sabah as Sulu sultanate territory, which is being claimed by the Kiram clan that was behind the 2013 Lahad Datu invasion.

Najib had dismissed Duterte’s claims then, asserting that Sabah belongs to Malaysia.

- See more at: http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/najib-says-will-defend-sabahs-sovereignty-if-he-meets-philippines-duterte#sthash.j0DXyur1.dpuf

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