Reports from Manila that leading members of the ruling Nacionalista Party of Philippines, Senator Salvador Laurel and Congressmen Constancio Maglana, have called for a through re-examination of his country’s Sabah claim, and for the “rule of reason over emotion” on the Sabah issue, are encouraging signs of the re-assertion of sane and rational men in Philippines public life.
The rejection of the Philippines claim to Sabah by Malaysia last week nearly brought emotion and hysteria to a boil in Manila, with the Philippines on the verge of rupturing diplomatic relations between the two countries.
The Malaysian Government must be commended for not reciprocating in kind when President Marcos ordered the withdrawal of all but one Philippines diplomatic personnel from Malaysia. Emotion and hysteria, if met the further emotion and hysteria, will only escalate unreason and unthinking frenzy.
Some Filipino politicians have regarded the Filipino claim to Sabah as a matter of national honour – largely because this was a good election campaign issue in the forthcoming Filipino general elections. It will be highly regrettable if President Marcos had also decided that this was the only way he could win re-election, a record still to be established as no Philippines President has ever won re-election.
Filipino honour is not at stake over the Sabah claim. Their honour, however, is at stake if they show the world that for electioneering purposes, they are prepared to escalate their frivolous territorial claim to the extent of setting South East Asia afire – as President Sukarno did five years ago.
Marcos might win re-election by escalating Filipino hysteria over the claim, but he would have followed closely on the heels of Sukarno, Macapagal in striking a grievous blow to the South East Asian spirit and identity.
The majority of thinking Filipinos are opposed to the war-mongering and sabre-rattling of Filipinos who want to go to extremes.
We in Malaysia must do all we can to allow the clouds of frenzy and hysteria in Manila to subside, and permit sane and rational men like Senator Salvador Laurel and Congressman Constancio Maglana to rally “reason over emotion.”
Tomorrow’s emergency session of the Cabinet therefore should work out a strategy which combines these elements:
(1) Remain firm in our rejection of the Sabah claim.
(2) Refusal to be provoked or rattled by Filipino warmongers;
(3) Continue to speak the language of reason, friendship and dedication to South – East Asian regional effort, to allow more like-minded Filipinos to re-assert themselves in the Philippines to de-escalate the crash of emotionalism, so that ASEAN can get on with the serious work of South-East Asian re-development and reconstruction.
Audited on 2021-04-05