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UN’s call should be heeded to end violence in Sabah, says Hajiri


The call of United Nation (UN) for peace on Sultan Jamalul Kiram III and Malaysian government should be heeded and accepted to end the violence in Sabah, said a well-known businessman in Tawi-Tawi Province.

UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon on Thursday called for an end to the violence in Sabah. He expressed concern about the impact this conflict situation may have on the civilian population.

Businessman Hadar Hajiri, Al-Haj, chairman/CEO of Medzar Shipping Lines, said that the UN’s call and every peaceful measure should be taken to address the scourge of violence to bring peace not only to Sabah but in Tawi-Tawi as well.

“I ask all the parties involved to listen to the UN’s call,” he said. “We, the people of Tawi-Tawi, encourage dialogue among all the parties involved for a peaceful resolution,” Hajiri said.

According to Hajiri, violence and killings in Sabah have greatly affected the economy of Tawi-Tawi, where almost every family in the province has a member working in Sabah, the primary source of income of the people of Tawi-Tawi.

“Not only these, Sabah is the main source of rice and crude oil of Tawi-Tawi. Most of our foods, snacks come from Sabah,” he said. “We businessmen and tradesmen also travel to Sabah for supplies.”

He said the province’s trader community is currently facing economic hardship, as a result of the continuing conflict in Sabah between the group of Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III and the Malaysian government.

“If the situation in Sabah does not improve in the next days or weeks, they will be compelled to shut their businesses - making the situation even worse in Tawi-Tawi and its neighboring provinces.”

It was learned from Chinese-Filipino Chamber of Commerce in Tawi-Tawi, the food prices and basic commodities in the province have been rising to almost 100%.

Trade relations between Sabah and Tawi-Tawi have been in existence for centuries due to its geographical proximity. Tawi-Tawi is only around 20 kilometers away.

From the capital town of Bongao, it takes only more than 4 hours for traders to travel by boat to Sandakan, a town of Sabah.

The border between the two neighboring countries have been closed for several weeks now after the Royal Army of the Sultanate of Sulu occupied Lahad Datu in Malaysia middle of last month, thus preventing traders from doing business.

National media reported that gasoline prices in Tawi-Tawi are now hovering around P60 per liter to as high as P80 per liter in some islands. Previously, gasoline was at P45 per liter.

It also said rice supply, which is also imported from Malaysia, also went up to P900 per sack today from P600 per sack. Sugar is also now at a high of P50 per kilo from P40 previously.

The report continued “The prices of other commodities are also rising, including packed noodles, coffee, and cooking oil - all coming from Malaysia.”
According to the report, due to the constant demand, stock reserves of prime commodities are now fluctuating.

Store operators said they have brought out their final stocks and may have nothing to sell in the coming weeks if the conflict continues.

A Chinese businessman in Bongao town said the province is now feeling the ill-effects of the standoff. He said the violence in Sabah must be solved immediately because everyone is affected.

The foreign exchange business has also been greatly affected. In Tawi-Tawi, foreign exchange shops are also on the brink of closing. The Malaysian ringgit is considered a prime currency in trading there.

The Malaysian ringgit is now being traded at an exchange rate of one to P8. It was hovering at a rate of P13 previously. The business community in Bongao believes this will affect the livelihood of families in Tawi-Tawi, whose family members are working in various plantations in Sabah.

Sultanate of Sulu occupied Lahad Datu in Malaysia middle of last month, thus preventing traders from doing business.

The Malaysian government imposed a trade embargo on Filipino traders as part of their efforts to force fighters of Sultan Jamalul Kiram to leave Sabah.

It also launched a crack down on undocumented overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) or so-called “stateless Filipinos” in Sabah and continue its “house-to-house” zoning operation on suspected sympathizers of Sultan Kiram despite the declaration of a ceasefire.

By Hader Glang

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0 #1 Abduh 2013-03-11 11:09
The intruders were given the option of surrendering but they refused and draw the first blood. They murdered and mutilated the bodies of Malaysian Security Force. Their only option now is to SURRENDER or be eliminated. No other option can be given to them!

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