Alternatives to Violence

Sultan Agbimuddin Kiram and his advisers are a bunch of morons for being violence-prone.

Why send hundreds of his followers to almost certain death when he could have resorted to non-violent means like sending emissaries to the Malaysian prime minister or sending a strongly-worded letter, warning of stern action if his requests or demands are not taken up seriously?

By doing what he did, Kiram showed to the whole world his extreme greed and selfishness, putting at grave risks the lives and livelihood of thousands of Pinoys now residing in Sabah, as well the relations and trade of the Philippines with Malaysia.

Will he take responsibility for thousands of Pinoys in Malaysia who will be evicted from Sabah and perhaps other parts of Malaysia in retaliation for his foolish invasion attempt?

Will he take responsibility for the damaged relations between the Philippines and Malaysia and its adverse repercussions on the Philippine economy and security in the Mindanao provinces?

Or will he simply ask for compassion for his selfish bid to gain control of parts of Sabah under questionable grounds, despite so-called rentals being paid to his sultanate by the Malaysian government?

Using force on another party, whether fellow Tausugs or Muslims, will certainly beget force.

He is old but it is clear that his advanced age does not necessarily reflect enhanced intelligence and wisdom on his part and that of his advisers.

If he is truly enlightened and courageous as a leader, he and his closest advisers should have flown directly to Kuala Lumpur and address his grievances directly to the Malaysian prime minister and other senior officials there.

He and his group could have gone on hunger strike or other peaceful actions in front of the Malaysian prime minister’s official residence or the parliament.

In either one of these ways, he could have attracted world attention to his grievances instead of instigating a crisis between two neighboring countries and causing the deaths of more than 50 of his followers now scampering like rats in the hinterlands and jungles of Sabah.

Will Kiram gain much sympathy and advance his cause effectively by his aborted invasion or takeover of what he claims belongs to his sultanate?

I doubt it very much.

(NOTE: The piece above was posted March 9 of this year in the online edition of the Philippine Daily Inquirer)

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