Lutong Makaw

By Solita Collas-Monsod

I HAVE had three very long conversations on the Sabah issue with historian Samuel K. Tan (PhD from Syracuse), who taught at UP for 30 years and was at one point the chairman of the History Department. Tan is a very prolific writer with at least six books under his belt, including A History of the Philippines, The Muslim South and Beyond, Suratsog (annotated Bibliography of Jawi materials of the Muslim South), Selected Essays on the Filipino Muslims. His interest in the Sabah issue may be because he himself was born and raised in Sulu, but he is a treasure trove of information on the topic. And I’d like to share some of what I learned from him, as well as from his brother, lawyer Ancheta Tan.

First, the question of whether the transaction between the Sultan of Sulu (Jamalul Kiram I) and Gustave Baron Overbeck in 1878 was a cession (grant) or a lease. The contract was written in Tausog — the sultan spoke no English — and the controversy centers on the translation of the Tausog word “padjak.” You have American, Dutch and Spanish linguists on one side (lease) and the British on the other (cede/grant).

Well, Tan is Tausog, and his Suratsog is an annotated translation of Tausog documents spanning the reign of Sultan Jamalul Kiram II. And he says “padjak” is unambiguous: it means lease. Aside from the fact that the $5,000 annual payment in perpetuity is consistent with a lease contract and not with a cession, there is one argument, this time forwarded by Chet Tan, that should convince anyone but the British government, and now the Malaysian government. In Tausog, there is a specific term for “sale” (“dagang”), and “buy” (“bi”). So if North Borneo was sold or bought, the term used would not have been “padjak.” That British translation was clearly in bad faith, with malice aforethought.

I have elsewhere discussed another action in bad faith of the British government — when it annexed North Borneo as a colony a mere six days after the Philippines became independent, and faced with humongous problems related to the aftermath of WW II. But Samuel K. Tan points out another: this time related to the so-called Cobbold Commission.

But first, a little background. The Federation of Malaya, composed of 11 states in the Malay Peninsula, won its independence from Great Britain in 1957. It seems that there was growing international pressure at that time on the latter, including pressure from the United States, to grant independence to its colonies (their unpreparedness being no excuse, per the UN resolution). Two of its largest colonies were Sarawak and Sabah (formerly North Borneo) in the island of Borneo. Whether it was Tungku Abdul Rahman of Malaya or the British government who first got the idea to enfold Sabah and Sarawak into the Federation of Malaya (and call it Malaysia) is immaterial — but both countries certainly were enthusiastic about it. For the Federation, it would mean increasing their land area by two and a half times. For Great Britain, it would at least ensure that the former colonies would be “safe” from Indonesia and the Philippines.

And so the Cobbold Commission (CC) was created (Jan. 1962) formally known as “Commission of Enquiry,” with the stated purpose of ascertaining the views of the peoples of North Borneo and Sarawak on the proposed merger.

The CC was composed of three British: Cobbold, former governor of the Bank of England, plus a former governor of Sarawak, and a former official of the Federation of Malaya; on the Malayan side, a former chief minister and the top official of the Foreign Affairs Ministry. Samuel Tan points out a glaring flaw: the citizens of Sabah and Sarawak had no representation in the CC.

Tan also points out another glaring shortcoming: that no referendum was actually held, in the sense of the people of Sabah and Sarawak casting a vote to be part of the proposed Malaysia. What instead happened was either that their “leaders” were consulted and/or “hearings” were conducted.

Understand, Reader, that Sabah and Sarawak together have a land area about two-thirds the size of the Philippines. And yet by June of 1962,or scarcely five months after the CC was formed, its report was submitted (in confidence) to their principals — the prime ministers of Great Britain and the Malayan Federation respectively.

And guess what it said? That one-third of the people of Sabah and Sarawak were fully supportive; one-third were conditionally supportive (safeguards had to be included); and one third-wanted either that Sarawak and North Borneo gain independence first before thinking about a merger, or were totally against the merger.

That was June, right? And yet in August of the same year, the CC final report stated that more than 70% of the people of North Borneo and Sarawak were in favor. What kind of arithmetic did they use between June and August? Reportedly, the North Borneans were very surprised at the result.

What is not a surprise that the CC declared itself to be in firm support for a federated Malaysia.

In contemporary lingo, the whole process, although Samuel K. Tan was too polite to say it, was “lutong makaw.”

There is more: Tan says that when it was proposed that the UN step in, in light of several objections raised internally and internationally, Great Britain gave notice that it would not be bound by the findings and recommendations of U Thant (UN Secretary General at the time) Can you imagine the effect that announcement would have on the UN’s report?

And as if to add insult to injury, Tan also recalls that observers sent by the Philippines and Indonesia were hampered by bureaucratic obstacles.


  1. Napunta ba talaga sa Sulu ang Sabah?

    The first treaty was signed by Brunei’s 24th Sultan, Sultan Abdul Momin, appointing Baron de Overbeck as the Maharaja Sabah, Rajah Gaya and Sandakan signed on 29th December 1877. The second treaty was signed by Sultan Jamalalulazam of Sulu appointing Baron de Overbeck as Dato Bendahara and Raja Sandakan on 22nd January 1878, about three weeks after the first treaty was signed.

  2. Following U.N. intervention, Indonesia and the newly created Malaysian government agreed to hold a local referendum in Borneo to formally resolve any conflicts over control of the territory. However, before the votes were counted, Malaysia declared its control over the region and did not report the results, claiming that the referendum was now an internal matter.*

  3. manuel buencamino

    In the age of democracy, the sovereign will of the people trumps historic title anytime.

    Whatever happened 50 years ago cannot be reversed without the consent of the people of Sabah. Any sort of retaking of Sabah done without the consent of Sabahans is colonization plain and simple.

    Evolution of political thought has overtaken our legal claim. It’s time to move on.

    • Self-determination trumps historical claims now.

      However, it’s kinda ironical that…

      Historically, self-determination was not genuinely consummated. May an actual referendum settle the issue?

      But look at reality here:

      The Sabah claim complicates the referendum process.

      Not many know that the claim excludes the interior of the state. The claimed area covers eastern Sabah, which was part of the Sulu sultanate, now part of the Philippines. It also covers the northern
      third of the state, which a victorious sultan in Brunei handed over to Sulu in return for the latter’s help in settling a palace dispute in the former’s favour. Sulu claims that eastern and northern Sabah were leased to the British North Borneo Company and sovereignty has since been transferred to the Philippine republic.

      Sabahans will not accept a two-part referendum, that is, the interior to decide whether it wants to be independent or part of Malaysia, and the Sabah claim areas to decide between Malaysia, the Philippines and independence.

      Keeping Sabah united would mean allowing the people of the state to decide whether they want independence or to be in either Malaysia or the Philippines.

    • @mb,

      The likes of Solita Monsod will not move on especially when they read part of documents such as this:

      It is a historical fact that North Borneo had been ‘leased in perpetuity’ by the Sultanate of Sulu to the British East India Company which then turned over the territory when the Federation of Malaya was formed in 1963. Such action has been described by the heirs of Sultan Jamalul Kiram as a blatant violation of the terms of the lease.

      While Malaysia has effectively retained full control over Sabah, it is also on record that as recent as 2003 it has been paying “cession” fees to the Sultanate of Sulu & Sabah, based on notices transmitted by the Malaysian embassy in Manila. It is also asserted that under international law the term ‘perpetuity’ is reckoned legally as lasting a period of 99 years. If this is so, then simple arithmetic would indicate that the lease has, in fact, expired. (At least one account on the Internet indicates the lease is 130 years past due.)

      The website of the Sultanate of Sulu and Sabah asserts that at the very least, with Malaysia supposedly earning up to 100 billion dollars per year from the exploitation of the area’s rich natural resources (this figure is unverified), the sultanate would, by its own estimates, be entitled to a share of some 10 billion dollars, a huge amount the the sultanate says could go to uplifting the lives of the people of Sulu.

      Perhaps a referendum here is in order to either “drop” or “claim” Sabah. Settling the issue will make everyone move on…hopefully?

  4. manuel buencamino

    Granting that the claim of the Kirams stands on firm legal footing and the Cobbold Commission plus the UN Team’s findings were questionable, I still have to ask where is the indication that Sabahans want to change their political status to an independent state or a province of the Philippines?

    I agree with the non-binding opinion expressed by an ICJ judge in the Philippines’ application for intervention in the case involving the dispute between Indonesia and Malaysia over Sipadan.

    “Under traditional international law, the right to territory was vested exclusively in rulers of States. Lands were the property of a sovereign to be defended or conveyed in accordance with the laws relevant to the recognition, exercise and transfer of sovereign domain. In order to judicially determine a claim to territorial title erga omnes, it was necessary to engage with the forms of international conveyancing, tracing historic title through to a critical date or dates to determine which State exercised territorial sovereignty at that point in time. Under modern international law, however, the enquiry must necessarily be broader, particularly in the context of decolonization. In particular, the infusion of the concept of the rights of a ‘people’ into this traditional legal scheme, notably the right of peoples to self-determination, fundamentally alters the significance of historic title to the determination of sovereign title.”

    “…historic claims and feudal pre-colonial titles are mere relics of another international legal era, one that ended with the setting of the sun on the age of colonial imperium.”

    Even if we were to win a favorable judgment from the ICJ, it would still be wrong for us to take over Sabah without the consent of Sabahans. We would be resurrecting the age of colonization. We would be turning our backs on democracy or the exercise of self-determination.

    So let’s move on. Let’s focus on making democracy triumph for everyone, everywhere. Let’s keep monarchs where they belong, in a deck of playing cards.



      inhabitant? kung yun lang, eh di ok lang. they can live there if they want.

      but habitation is NOT their issue. actually, i’m not sure what their issue is exactly.

      ano ba ang gusto nilang mangyari?

    • manuel buencamino


      You will be a colonizer once you take over Sabah against the will of the Sabahans.

      Tsaka “a group of minority Filipinos” is not the same as “the Kiram family”. You are misusing terms to buttress your argument. We are not talking of “a group of minority Filipinos” we are talking of one family that is claiming all of Sabah as their personal property. They belong to the Tausog tribe but Tausog are not claimants of Sabah.

      Now what is the basis of the Kiram claim? A grant from the Sultan of Brunei. Where did sultan of brunei get the right to own every living thing in Sabah to give it away at his caprice? Did the sultan of brunei become the owner of Sabah by right of conquest or by some divine gift from Allah? Nagpaalam ba siya sa mga inhabitants of Sabah? If you read history you will see that the sultan of sulu helped the sultan of brunei put down an uprising. Sino kaya yun mga nag umalsa, hindi kaya mga natives na din ng North Borneo? Sa Sarawak, the English adventurer James Brooke was mad Whute Rajah after he helped the sultan of brunei put down a native rebellion. Di kaya ganun din ang nangyari sa kaso ng sultan of sulu>

      So the foreign power na sinasabi mo ay the sultan of brunei and the sultan of sulu. Hindi ba foreign power din yun sultan of sulu nung una siyang tumapak sa Sabah to claim the land that was awarded to him by another foreign power the sultan of brunei?

      Walang kamalay-malay yun mga natives ng Sabah eh pinagpasapasahan na pala sila ng sultan of brunei to the sultan of sulu and the sultan of sulu to some businessmen and the businessmen to England and the English to the Malays.

      Meron legitimate claim yun sultan of sulu if Sabah’s history began with him. But it did not. There were many tribes that settled Sabah ahead of him. The sultan of sulu was nothing more than a foreign power that colonized those people. Kaya nga sa Mindanao nagaaway ang mga lumad at yun Bangsa Moro. Sabi ng Bangsa Moro kanila daw yun indigenous lands, sabi ng lumad kanila. Ang basehan ng moro ay sultanates. Ang sagot ng lumad ay hindi kami nag convert to Islam kaya wala kaming pakialam sa inangkin ng mga sultan ninyo at ngayon ay tinutukoy ninyo pagaari din ninyo. Ganun din yan claim ng sultan of sulu. It is the claim of a colonial power! You cannot cherry-pick historical events. That is self-serving.

      • @mb :=(( If the Kiram family and tribe is not the legitimate sultanate to sign a treaty and lease agreement why did the British empire recognized the signed documents and are forever paying rent?????

        • manuel buencamino


          Hindi mo pala naintindihan ang sinulat ko.

          Simple lang. Historic title, after the age of monarchs and colonial rulers ended, does not count for shit anymore. Self-determination, democracy ika nga, yan na ang batayan ng sovereignty ngayon.

          As to ownership claim naman. Huwag na tayong pumunta pa sa Sabah o sa Mindanao kung saan umaangal ang mga lumad. Kahit diyan lang tayo sa Bulacan pumunta. Yun mga katutubo diyan ay tumututol dun sa mga lupang tinitutluhan ng Kastila, Amerikano, at ng Republika. Sabi nila basta na lang namigay kayo ng Torrens title ni hindi ninyo inalam kung may nagmamay-ari na sa mga lupang yun. (Di mo naalala yun kaso ng mga katutubo dun sa lupa ni Manny Villar sa Bulacan?)

          Kaya on both counts – 1) on sovereignty wala na ang historic title. 2) On ownership talo din yan kung indigenous title ang katapat.

          So move on. Try to catch up with political evolution. Pang Disneyland na lang ang mga hari at reyna at mga kaharian.

  6. A glimpse of Malaysian point of view…

    The hard line stand of Malaysia refusing to make the Sabah claim issue an International Court of Justice (ICJ) domain is embodied in this 2001 document they submitted to the ICJ:

    This is how Malaysians view the Philippines’ claim to Sabah in a legal document…

    A. The Philippines’ claim to Sabah

    4. In order to deal with the Philippines’ Application, it is not necessary for the Court to pronounce upon its claim to Sabah. However, for the Court to appreciate the issues at stake an outline of the claim may be helpful — the more so since even a brief examination is sufficient to show that the claim is manifestly untenable (2).

    [Footnote No. 2: In its application, the Philippines has not bothered to explain to the Court the “legal basis” of its claim to Sabah. That claim was first introduced by Philippines’ representatives in the General Assembly in 1962. See General Assembly Official Records, 1177th mtg., 27 November 1962, pp. 874-877 (attached as Annex 1 to these Observations); ibid., 4th Committee, 1420th mtg., 12 December 1962, pp. 621-622 (attached as Annex 2). The claim was subsequently published as Philippine Claim to North Borneo, Volume I, Manila, Bureau of Printing, 1963, 159 pages. Copies of this publication have been lodged with the Court.]

    5. The Malaysian State of Sabah has a population of 2.6 million and a land area of 73,610 square km. This represents 11% of the population of Malaysia and about 22% of its total area. As a component State of the federation, Sabah has its own legislature, government and public administration. Elections to the State legislature are held every 4-5 years. Altogether 9 elections have been held since 1963. The latest was in March 1999.

    6. What is now the State of Sabah has been under the effective control of Malaysia and its predecessors in title since the late-nineteenth century. During this period, it has never been under the control of the Philippines or its predecessors in title. Sabah includes 202 islands, only two of which (Sipadan and Ligitan) are the subject of the present dispute with Indonesia, as specified in the Special Agreement for Submission to the International Court of Justice of the Dispute between Indonesia and Malaysia concerning Sovereignty over Pulau Ligitan and Pulau Sipadan dated 31 May 1997.

    7. Unlike Indonesia’s claim in the present case, the Philippines’ claim extends to the whole of the territory of Sabah. It is presented by the Philippines irrespective of the wishes of the people of Sabah. It is not a claim to two small islands.

    8. The Philippines’ claim to Sabah was first raised in 1962. It was never presented in any form to the British North Borneo Company. Nor had it been previously presented to Britain. From 1946, Great Britain reported on North Borneo to the Committee established under article 73 (e) of the Charter of the United Nations. During this period the Philippines, as a leader of the decolonization movement and a regular member of the Committee, never once raised any claim to the territory (3). On the contrary it expressly recognized…

    [Footnote No. 3: This is despite the fact that a number of claims were made, and annually recorded, by various States to various territories: see e.g. United Nations Yearbook, 1948-49, p. 730 and in each successive year until 1961.]

    …British authority over North Borneo in a number of treaties (4). It was only after the people of North Borneo agreed in 1961 to consider joining Malaysia that the Philippines’ claim was announced. The claim was and is based on an alleged “cession” of sovereignty over North Borneo in 1962. The “cession” was signed as a private law document by a group of persons claiming to be private law heirs of the last Sultan of Sulu, Sultan Jamal Al Alam, who died in 1936. As an international legal act it was and is worthless.

    9. In fact and in law, the Philippines’ claim to Sabah is totally lacking in foundation, inter alia for the following reasons.

    (a) As an international entity, the Sultanate of Sulu disappeared in September 1878, when Spain at last succeeded in conquering the sultanate (5).

    (b) Great Britain recognised Spanish sovereignty over the Sulu Archipelago in 1885. At the same time, Spain expressly renounced…

    “as far as regards the British Government, all claims of sovereignty over the territories of the continent of Borneo, which belong, or which have belonged in the past to the Sultan of Sulu (Jolo), and which comprise the neighbouring islands of Balambangan, Banguey, and Malawali, as well as all those comprised within a zone of three maritime leagues from the coast, and which form part of the territories administered by the company styled the ‘British North Borneo Company’.” (6)

    [Footnote No. 4: See e.g. Philippines-United Kingdom, Agreement for Air Services between and beyond their Respective Territories, Manila, 7 January 1948: United Nations Treaty Series, vol. 28 p. 63; Philippines-United Kingdom, Agreement for Air Services between and beyond their Respective Territories, Manila, 31 January 1955: United Nations Treaty Series, vol. 216 p. 51; Philippines-United Kingdom (on behalf of North Borneo), Agreement conceming migration of Filipino labor for employment in British North Bomeo, Manila, 29 August 1955: United Nations Treaty Series, vol. 221 p. 241.]

    [Footnote No. 5: Malaysian Memorial, vol. 2 Annex 12. The Sultan subsequently confirmed his subjection to the United States in an agreement of 20 August 1899: Malaysian Memorial, vol. 2 Annex 20.]

    [Footnote No. 6: Malaysian Memorial, vol. 2 Annex 15.]

    Under the law in force at the time, this was a perfectly lawful and valid renunciation. It extinguished any purported claim of sovereignty over British North Borneo by Spain or by Sulu. Any attempt to revive that claim now is wholly precluded.

    (c ) The validity of this transaction was expressly recognised by the United States, in its capacity as sovereign over the Philippines and as successor to Spain. Indeed it did so twice, in the Exchange of Notes of 1907 (7) and then in the 1930 Boundary Convention (8).

    (d) After 1878, neither the Sultan of Sulu nor his heirs had any capacity to hold or cede sovereignty or sovereign rights. The British Government expressly recognised this in the negotiations leading to the 1907 Exchange of Notes (9). In fact the Sultanate as an entity within the Philippines was abolished on the death of the last Sultan in 1936 (10).

  7. The Philippines’ claim to Sabah in the eyes of Malaysia continued…

    10. The Philippines’ claim is to the whole territory of the State of Sabah. Evidently, this claim cannot be reconciled with the treaties of 1885, 1907 and 1930. It is also completely inconsistent with the principle of self-determination. British North Borneo was a non-self-governing territory under Chapter XI of the United Nations Charter. In 1963, the people of North Borneo exercised their right of self-determination, as was affirmed by the Secretary-General of the United Nations. Pursuant to an agreement between the Federation of Malaya, Indonesia and the Philippines (11), and with the consent of the United Kingdom, the Secretary-General conducted a consultation in North Borneo and Sarawak in August-September 1963. Based on the Report of his Mission, the Secretary-General concluded as follows:

    “The Secretary-General referred to the fundamental agreement of the three participating Governments and the statement by the Republic of Indonesia and the Republic of the Philippines that they would welcome the formation of the Federation of Malaysia provided that the support of the people of the territories was ascertained by him, and that, in his opinion, complete compliance with the principle of self-determination within the requirements of General Assembly resolution 1541(XV), Principle IX of the Annex, had been ensured. He had reached the conclusion, based on the findings of the Mission that on both of these counts there was no doubt about the wishes of a sizeable majority of the people of those territories to join in the Federation of Malaysia.” (12)

    The text of the Secretary-General’s Report is attached as Annex 3.

    [Footnote No. 7: Malaysian Memorial, vol. 2 Annexes 23-24.]

    [Footnote No. 8: Malaysian Memorial, vol. 2 Annex 29.]

    [Footnote No. 9: See Malaysian Memorial, vol. 1, para. 5.35; Malaysian Reply, para. 2.4, third dot point.]

    [Footnote No. 10: See Malaysian Memorial, , vol. 1, para. 5.23.]

    [Footnote No. 11: Manila Accord, 31 .luly 1963, United Nations Treaty Series, vol. 550 p. 343; Joint Statement, Manila, 5 August 1963, ibid., p. 356. The Secretary-General’s mandate was specified in para. 4 of the Joint Statement.]

    [Footnote No. 12: Report of the Secretary-General, 14 September 1963, as set out in United Nations Yearbook, 1963, p. 43. See also Annual Report of the Secretary-General on the Work of the Organization, 16 June 1963–15 June 1964, General Assembly Official Records, l9th session, Supp. No. 1 (A/5801), pp. 26-28.]

    11. Even after the choice of the people of the territory was confirmed by the Secretary-General in 1963, the Philippines continued sporadically to raise its claim to Sabah. It has however produced no arguable basis of claim. Discussions with Malaysia have focused exclusively on ways in which the Philippines might withdraw its claim without offending its own domestic public opinion. It was in this sense that the Malaysian Prime Minister described the claim as a “domestic problem” for the Philippines. There have been no negotiations between Malaysia and the Philippines even on that limited subject since 1987. The Philippines refers to “diplomatic negotiations, official international correspondence, and peaceful discussions that have not been concluded” (Philippines’ Application, para. 4 (b)). There are no such negotiations pending, no unanswered correspondence and no continuing discussions of any kind on the claim.

    12. It should be stressed that the Philippines has never made a claim to parts of Sabah: its claim is to the territory of the State as a whole. Its claim to

    Sabah derives from the Sulu grant of 1878. In its view, that grant was only a temporary lease (13), and a right of reversion has survived (a) the extinction of the Sultanate as an international person; (b) the express recognition of British rights over North Borneo by Spain in 1885; (c ) the express recognition of British sovereignty by the United States in 1930; (d) the complete suppression of the Sultanate by the United States in 1936; (e) the subsequent recognition of British rights to North Borneo by the Philippines after it became independent.

    13. Even if (quod non) these obstacles could be overcome, the two islands which are the subject of the present dispute were not covered by the grant of 1878. Someone claiming a right of reversion to territory covered by that grant would not be entitled to the two islands (14). Even in its own terms, the Philippines’ claim to Sabah gives it no right to the islands.

    [Footnote No. 13: In fact the grant (Malaysian Memorial, vol. 2 Annex 9) is expressed to be “for ever” and there is no right of reversion. See also Malaysian Memorial, vol. 2 Annex 10.]

    [Footnote No. 14: Malaysia and Indonesia agree that the two islands were not covered by the 1878 grant. See Malaysian Memorial, vol. 1, p. 39; Indonesian Memorial, vol. 1, p. 14.]

    As previously mentioned, Pilipinas must overcome the Malaysian point of view.

    • In the same document immediately above, there was reference to these statements of facts:

      Following the formation of Malaysia on September 16, 1963, with the original Malaysian government having previously acceded to the UNCLOS I treaties of 1958 on December 21, 1960 Malaysia adopted its Continental Shelf Act on July 28, 1966 and later proclaimed its twelve nm territorial sea on August 2, 1969.*

      [*Sabah is located in the northern part of the Borneo Island. Sabah joined the Federation of Malaysia in 1963. Following the inclusion of Sabah, the Malaysian government had redrawn Sabah’s territorial waters and continental shelf in order to endorse the 1954 British declaration of Sabah’s east coast waters as historic waters so as to comply with UNLCOS I treaties of 1958.]

    • What is being claimed is just a part of Sabah. If a genuine “fresh” Sabah referendum is to take place then Sabahans will be asked a two-tiered election:

      First part: if they want Sabah to be divided (claimed areas and unclaimed areas) or not (United Sabah); then…

      Second part: if Sabahans (either united or not, depending on the result of the first election) want to be independent, if they want to be with Malaysia, or if they want to be with the Philippines.

      Pretty sure a Sabah referendum will never take place at this point…

    • ENTRY POINTS | Sultan’s claim does not cover entire Sabah, plus other areas of talk to end conflict
      By: Veronica C. Uy,
      March 20, 2013 1:07 AM

      MANILA, Philippines – The claim of the Sultanate of Sulu is not over the entire Sabah, a foreign affairs analyst has noted, providing an entry point for a possible resolution of the conflict arising from it.

      The analyst, who asked not to be named, cited the January 22, 1878 lease agreement between the Sultan of Sulu and the Austrian businessman Gustavus Baron de Overbeck and the British lawyer Alfred Dent.

      “All territories and lands tributary to us on the mainland of the Island of Borneo, commencing from the Pandassan River on the east, and thence along the whole east coast as far ar the Sibuko River on the south, and including all territories, on the Pandassan River and in the Coastal area known as Paitan, Sugut, Banggai, Labuk, Sandakan, China-batangan, Mumiang, and all other territories and coastal lands to the south, bordering on Darvel Bay, and as far as the Sibuku River, together with all the islands which lie within nine miles from the coast,” according to the lease agreement signed by Sultan Mohammed Jamalul Alam and witnessed by acting consul general of Borneo at the time, W.H. Treacher.–sultans-claim-does-not-cover-entire-sabah-plus-other-areas-of-talk-to-end-conflict