Kota Kinabalu (The Star/ANN) - Controversial Suluk leader Datu Mohd Akjan Ali Muhammad has called on members of the community not to give any assistance to the Sulu gunmen currently involved in a standoff with Malaysian security forces.
Akjan, who also claims to be the rightful heir to the Sulu sultanate, said the Suluk community in Sabah should pledge their loyalty to Malaysia and no other country.
Calling on the remaining Sulu gunmen to lay down their arms and surrender unconditionally, he said their persistence would only prolong the trouble.
"I wish to remind all Suluks here that they are Malaysian citizens. Therefore, they should always pledge their allegiance to Malaysia and be among the first to step forward to defend their country.
"The Sulu gunmen must leave unconditionally," he said. "Their refusal to do so will only bring more trouble to themselves.
"If you (Tausug from the Philippines) want to claim Sabah, then we, the Suluks in Sabah, can also make that claim. But what is there to claim when we are now Malaysians whereas you all are nothing but people from the Republic of Philippines just like Jamalul Kiram II," said Akjan, who had been detained over "Project IC".
"Over my dead body will I allow Filipinos to claim Sabah as part of their country," he said.
Akjan, who is also the chairman of the Malaysian Islamic Welfare and Sermon Organisation (Pekida) in Sabah, said it supported Prime Minister Najib Razak's move to do whatever was necessary to flush out the gunmen.
He hoped the other communities in Malaysia would not stereotype Suluks in the country due to the Lahad Datu incident.
"We, the Suluks of Sabah and Malaysia, have been around for so long.
"It is not possible for us to become part of the Philippines," he added.
Akjan also demanded an apology from PKR vice-president Tian Chua over his statement linking Umno to the foreign intrusion.
In Lahad Datu, Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Ahmad Maslan said Suluks born and raised in Sabah had no affiliation with the intruders.
"Do not link the local Suluk community to the intruders from the Philippines," he said at a meeting with representatives of the Suluk community on Saturday. "We changed the name of Ops Sulu to Ops Daulat so it would not look like we are against the Suluk community."