Malaysia. According to
Countryaah, about 200 Filipinos arrived in February in the
coastal city of Lahad Datu in Sabah, northeastern Borneo,
and made historic claims to ownership of a land area in the
Malaysian state. According to them, the area was part of the
old Sultanate of Sulu, based in the southwestern
Philippines. After a time of post war between Malaysian
soldiers and the Philippine Armed Forces, fighting broke
out, ending with at least 68 Filipinos being killed.
According to Malaysian authorities, around 400 people were
Later in February, a spokesman for Jamalul Kiram, one of
four men who claimed to be the Sultan of Sulu, announced
that 400 new Filipino soldiers belonging to the "Sultanate
of the Royal Sultanate" had camped in the jungle in Sabah.
In April, media reports said that close to 1,000 militiamen
had gathered in the camp, which was said to have been used
by the Philippine Muslim guerrilla MNLF. Malaysian naval
vessels patrolled the offshore waters and there were reports
that 35 Filipinos had been shot dead by the Navy. According
to the Malaysian defense minister, three members of the
opposition party People's Justice Party (PKR), led by Anwar
Ibrahim, would be involved in the uprising.
Sulu's claim to the area dates back to 1658. In 1878, the
Sultan gave or leased the area to the British. In the Madrid
Protocol of 1885, Spain, which then ruled the Philippines,
gave the area to a British trading company. Three years
later, the area became a British protectorate, and in 1946 a
British crown colony. Following a 1963 referendum, the area
became Malaysian. Malaysia is still paying a symbolic lease
to the Philippines for the area. The President of the
Philippines, Benigno Aquino, condemned the uprising and
urged the militias to return home. Aquino, however,
supported Sulu's claim in substance.
In the election to Parliament's second chamber, the House
of Representatives, in May, the ruling party alliance won
the National Front by 133 seats against 89 seats for the
Opposition People's Alliance, led by Anwar Ibrahim. The
national front, which has ruled in Malaysia since
independence in 1957, won by less margin than ever before
and the election was the first in the country's history
where the opposition was judged to have a realistic chance
of winning. In the 2008 elections, the National Front failed
for the first time to achieve an absolute majority of
two-thirds of the mandate, which meant that they lost the
opportunity to change the constitution on their own.
In fact, the People's Alliance received more votes than
the National Front, but the electoral system gave the
governing coalition the most mandate and thus the task of
re-forming government. Analysts explained that the victory
of the National Front was also due to the fact that it was
given more space in most media and significantly larger
party contributions than the opposition had access to.
Although the National Front had downplayed its policy of
granting economic and other privileges to the Malay people,
the local party in the countryside still pursued this
policy. Promising cash grants to the country's poor were
also considered to have attracted many voters. An important
reason for the declining support of the National Front was
that many ethnic Chinese, and to some extent also Indians,
went to the opposition. City dwellers and youths also tended
to vote for the People's Alliance. The national front
received 47.4% of the vote, against 50.9% for the People's
Alliance. The turnout was 84.6%.
Anwar Ibrahim refused to acknowledge the loss of
elections, saying that the electoral commission looked
between the fingers with widespread electoral fraud on the
part of the government coalition. Protest demonstrations
were held against the election results and five opposition
groups were arrested, suspected of being fired.
Prime Minister Najib's new government consisted of
several so-called technocrats and only a minister from the
Chinese minority. Two representatives of the Indians were
included in the government, as were several representatives
of the indigenous peoples' parties in Sabah and Sarawak.
In October, a court ruled that non-Muslims must not call
God Allah. According to the judgment, that term should only
be used among Muslims. In 2009, a lower court had decided
that Allah could be used by anyone, including Christians, as
a name for God. The conflict over the name Allah arose when
Muslims accused Christians of trying to convert Muslims to
Christianity by calling God by the name Muslims were used
That same month, the House of Representatives clubbed
through a bill that would allow criminals to be held in
custody for several years without trial. The bill, which
must also be adopted by the Senate, was criticized by human
rights groups and by the opposition.
In November, Malaysia's relations with Singapore,
Australia and the United States were strained by information
revealed by US whistleblower Edward Snowden that the three
countries had been spying on Malaysia for decades.