Saturday, 23 March 2013

The Tausug People

The recent conflict of the Sulu soldiers in Lahad Datu has caught the world by surprise. However, we should not be shattered by such conflict as this is common when the Malay Sultanates want to reclaim what they think was theirs before European colonialism in this region.

I will not dwell on the conflict itself but it is good to learn about who the people involved are and their origins. We are talking about the Tausug or Suluk people. The sultanate involved is the Sultanate of Sulu. The present Sultan of Sulu is Jamalil Kiram III. In history, a British queen had visited the Sultan of Sulu; Sulu may still be British? I don't have the complete story.

The Arabs were in Sulu and the other Filipino islands in the region before European colonialism. The Sulu language is thus an Arab mix. There are 3 major races in the group, including the Bajau people. I wrote a bit about the Bajau people and their language in my book, Research on the Early Malay Doctors 1900-1957 Malaya and Singapore.

Though the Sulu people are thought to be Muslims and followers of some Sufi sect, but it seems that their actions (killing) is not what Islam advocates - peaceful living with close and neighbours afar. Findings of talisman among the Sulu soldiers also point to superstitions and belief in supernaturals (i.e. other than Allah SWT) - this is a problem of akidah. This is a big area to counsel.

We have to study the problems at hand and understand the needs of the Sulu people before we can expect some peace talks. It is bad enough that this conflict has arisen with Malaysia's close neighbours. But we have to learn to keep conflict and terrorism at bay. Malaysia had one clash with the Philippines in 1967 when I lived in Sabah and another with Indonesia (Konfrontasi) - all with regard to land claims. The same with Thailand and Singapore. It is the people whom need to learn about and assist if we want to continue to keep peace in this region.