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Malaysia, Philippines in war of words over Sabah claim | Malaysia News



Malaysian Foreign Minister Hishammuddin Hussein says he is summoning Manila’s ambassador over a social media post from Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr claiming that the Borneo state of Sabah is not a part of Malaysia.

Sabah joined the neighbouring state of Sarawak, and the states of the Malay peninsula to form the Federation of Malaysia in 1963. But the territory was once part of the centuries-old sultanate of Sulu, and Filipino politicians have sometimes used that history to suggest Sabah should be part of the modern-day Philippines.

Hishammuddin announced the summons late on Wednesday, after Locsin replied to a tweet from the US embassy by claiming that Sabah was not a part of Malaysia.

Hishammuddin said Locsin’s statement was “irresponsible”, but the top Philippine diplomat responded in a combative fashion, announcing on social media on Thursday that he would summon Malaysia’s representative to Manila.

In a barrage of social media posts, Locsin stepped up his attack against Malaysia, writing that “no country can tell another what it can and cannot say about what the latter regards as rightfully its own … That holds for Sabah.”

“I am summoning the Malaysian ambassador” to the Department of Foreign Affairs, he added in another post, in response to former Philippine Senator JV Ejercito’s Twitter post that Sabah “historically belongs rightfully to the Philippines”.

Locsin also reposted Ejercito’s statement saying, “They also are allegedly secretly supporting the terrorists in the South. I suspect that a lot of funding and arms of these bandits coursed through Malaysia.” 

The dispute began on Monday night when the US embassy in Manila posted a statement on social media stating that it had distributed hygiene kits to Filipinos who had returned “from Sabah, Malaysia”.

In response to the post, sharp-tongued Locsin wrote: “Sabah is not in Malaysia if you want to have anything to do with the Philippines.”

Malaysia’s Hishammuddin reposted on Wednesday night Locsin’s remark, with his own comment saying, “This is an irresponsible statement that affects bilateral ties.”

He then announced that his office would summon the Philippine ambassador for an explanation.

“Sabah is, and will always be, part of Malaysia,” Hishammuddin wrote. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs declined to comment further on Thursday morning.

More accusations

In his Twitter tirade, Locsin also claimed that Malaysia “tried to derail” the Philippines’s case against China in The Hague over the South China Sea. In 2016, the court dismissed China’s claims. 

“None may share our [The] Hague victory who worked against it,” he added, blaming the US embassy in Manila for starting the controversy.

Without directly mentioning Malaysia, he also wrote that the Philippine military “does not forget who bankrolled the Muslim secession with arms and cash and bled us dry”.

The Philippines previously blamed groups from Malaysia of supporting secessionist movements among minority Muslim groups in the southern island of Mindanao.

But the Malaysian government had acted as a mediator between the Philippines and Muslim rebels, and was instrumental in the peace agreement between Manila and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

Rebel groups from the Philippines have sometimes kidnapped people from Sabah for ransom, while a group of armed fighters staged an incursion into eastern Sabah in 2013, leading to a weeks-long standoff with the Malaysian police near the town of Lahad Datu and death of 71 people. After the incident, Malaysia stepped up maritime patrols in the area, and instituted a new security zone.

Locsin, who served as the Philippine ambassador to the United Nations before becoming the country’s top diplomat, is no stranger to the controversy, as he routinely tussles with commenters on social media, calling them “idiots” and “stupid”.

In early 2019, he defended his comments on Nazi Germany and Adolf Hitler’s massacre of Jews as “historical fact”, increasing diplomatic tension between Manila and Berlin.

Locsin also wrote that President Rodrigo Duterte’s comparison of the deadly war on drugs in the Philippines to the Nazi leader’s killing of millions of Jews during the Holocaust was “a metaphor”.

“The killing of 6MJews, 20MRussians & innocents like Anne Frank in WW2 is historical fact,” Locsin added in the Twitter post.

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Minister Rukutana charged with attempted murder, remanded




The state minister for Labour, Gender and Economic Development Mwesigwa Rukutana has been remanded to Kyamugorani prison in Mbarara district.

Rukutana appeared before Ntungamo Grade One magistrate Nazifah Namayanja this afternoon from where he was charged with seven offences related to attempted murder, assault, malicious damage, and threatening violence.

Rukutana was captured in a video that went viral on social media showing him grabbing a gun from one of his bodyguards and started shooting at a vehicle belonging to supporters of his political rival Naome Kabasharira. At the time of the incident, Rukutana had just lost the Rushenyi country NRM flag to Kabasharira.

The prosecution alleges that on September 5, 2020, at Kagugu village in Ntungamo district, Rukutana and others still at large assaulted Julius Niwamanya and threatened to kill or injure him together with three others. The others are Stuart Kamukama, Dan Rwibirungi, and Moses Kamukama. 

It is also alleged that Rukutana also willfully and unlawfully damaged a motor vehicle registration number UAR 840X Toyota Rav 4 type which belongs to Moses Muhumuza.

According to the Judiciary public relations officer, Jameson Karemani, Rukutana has not taken a plea of these charges against him since they can only be tried by the chief magistrate who was not in court today.

As a result, the magistrate decided to send him to Kyamugorani, awaiting his return to court on Tuesday.      

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Lira district headquarters closed over COVID-19




Lira district headquarters have been closed after one staff tested positive for COVID-19 last week. 

On Monday morning, district staff were blocked at the gate with only the deputy chief administrative officer, his secretary and the receptionist allowed access to their offices. 

Paul Samuel Mbiiwa, the deputy chief administrative officer says that only heads of department will be allowed at the headquarters while the rest will work from home. He adds that the restriction will help to curb the spread of the virus.

“You see corona is not a joke. We have taken a step at fighting it and that is why you are seeing the staff outside. Even in my office here I do not want people to come if there is anything we can discuss on the phone.”

Francis Okello Olwa, a senior community development officer who doubles as the district spokesperson says that the entire district offices will be fumigated and closed for two days.

Health authorities in the district are planning to take samples from all the staff because they could have interacted with the one who tested positive. Currently, there are 19 COVID-19 patients under treatment at Lira regional referral hospital.     

On Sunday four health workers at the hospital tested positive for COVID-19. Dr Patrick Odongo, a senior medical officer at the hospital also succumbed to the virus.  

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Museveni issues ultimatum to police boss




Museveni flagged off distribution of motorcycles for NRM chairpersons

President Yoweri Museveni has given Inspector General of Police (IGP) Martins Okoth Ochola a chilling ultimatum: You either do your work or I will do it myself!

Museveni disclosed the ultimatum he gave to the IGP today Monday at the NRM secretariat at Plot 10 Kyadondo Road in Kampala where he was flagging off the distribution of motorcycles to parish chairpersons of the ruling National Resistance Movement party across the country. 

“I told the IGP that if the police doesn’t do their work, I will do it myself by arresting the police officers themselves,” Museveni stunned his audience as he commented on the electoral violence that marred the NRM primaries held on Friday last week. At least 4 people were killed across the country during the primaries. 

“There was violence in Bukono county [Namutumba district] where people were beaten. I got information that police has not done much work. Some (policemen) have been arrested and given police bond; there is no police bond for somebody who has attacked Ugandans!,” Museveni added. 

Museveni vowed to deal with all persons who messed up the party primaries.  In some parts of the country, there were massive regularities where candidates who had been defeated ended up being announced winners. In some places like Namutumba, Isingiro, Ntungamo, Jinja, Katakwi, among others, there was violence that led to the killing and wounding of civilians. Museveni said that they are going to make sure that all those who participated in these irregularities and violence are held to account. 

Museveni said although the violence was orchestrated by the politicians, the police personnel are to be held accountable for failing to contain it.

Last week, police spokesman Fred Enanga warned police personnel especially those guarding VIPs against being drawn into the politicians’ political wrangles, reminding them that they would face the music if they did. With the president now threatening to go and conduct the arrests of errant policemen himself, IGP Ochola is likely to move fast to avert the spectacle. 

Museveni wondered why police would shoot at unarmed people who were fighting amongst themselves: “That policeman must be arrested; even the ones who are threatening people you will go to jail for that if we get evidence,” a seemingly incensed Museveni said.

He also said that the state minister of Labour, Gender and Economic Development Mwesigwa Rukutana who was captured on camera attempting to shoot people over the weekend in Ntugamo after he lost the  Rushenyi primaries, will be charged with threatening violence and attempted murder. 

 “This game is finished,” Museveni said.

Rukatana has since been charged and remanded to Kyamugorani prison in Mbarara district in western Uganda. Museveni called upon all those dissatisfied with the election results to write petitions to the regional panels of elders which he said are going to be constituted to hear all election complaints.

“We are going to get three respected people who are not part of the struggles, then we shall go and audit village per village and we shall discover. If you have committed forgery, the registrar or the politician who ordered,  you all shall go to jail. The game is finished; the voting is by lining and if you miss-add, you are ‘miss-add’ yourself,” Museveni said.

Museveni’s speech came shortly before that of Justine Kasule Lumumba, the secretary general of the NRM who called upon the president to reign over some senior people who with impunity were freely changing the results of the elections.

“Some of our staff were lured into changing declaration forms on the way forgetting that people who had participated at the village don’t need to write; they registered the record in their faces…Some have done things with impunity… in Butemba county Kyakwanzi district, one of the candidates who got 3,000 votes brought in soldiers, cordoned off that place and was declared a winner and off they went away,” Lumumba said. 

The ball is now in Ochola’s court to get the police to execute their duties professionally and with impartiality. In March 2017, President Museveni warned Ochola’s predecessor Kale Kayihura to clean the police force of wrong elements. As months passed with no visible sign of police officers shaping up, Museveni resorted to other security agencies who started arresting rogue senior police officers and charging them in the military court for various crimes.

Kayihura was then removed from office, arrested and jointly charged with the errant officers in the army court. To avoid similar fate, Ochola is likely to use a firmer hand on the police officers so that by the time of the February 2021 elections, there is no laxity in the force’s execution of its mandate to maintain law and order.

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