MANILA - There is no claim.
Malaysia’s Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad had this to say on Thursday when asked about the Philippines’ dormant claim to Sabah, a territory south of the country declared part of the Malaysian federation in 1963.
"Well, as far as we’re concerned, there is no claim,” said Mahathir in an exclusive interview with ANC's Cathy Yang.
Mahathir, who is in the country on an official visit, appeared hesitant to speak about the matter. He said there would be no discussion between him and President Rodrigo Duterte on Sabah when they meet later Thursday.
“We will not discuss that,” he said, shaking his head to followup questions.
The Philippines had laid claimed over Sabah, a territory part of Malaysia’s northern Borneo, citing a land lease agreement in 1878 between the Sultanate of Sulu and the British North Borneo Chartered Co.
There had only been intermittent discussions between the Philippines and Malaysia over the claim, and the latter has continued to govern the territory. In November 2016, Duterte and then Prime Minister Najib Razak agreed to set aside the dispute.
In 2013, hundreds of militants from Tawi-Tawi went to Lahad Datu in Sabah to assert their claim, calling themselves "Royal Security Forces of the Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo.”
Malaysia has sentenced 9 Filipinos to death over the incident.