Malaysia, Philippines Face a New Sultan at a Bad Time

Children raised in a refugee camp off the coast of Sabah in East Malaysia. ©Luke Hunt/Bomborra Images

FAR EAST CORRESPONDENT — War against Islamic militancy in Southeast Asia has too often been complicated by layers of nationalism, provincial politics and tribal culture. It’s a thorn in Southern Thailand, Indonesia and in particular the Southern Philippines, where peace talks have struggled to accommodate all and end decades of conflict that feeds off of old tribal hatreds.

The importance of the tribes can’t be underestimated, and this was highlighted by a recent appointment among the Sulu clans.

Phugdalun Kiram II has been named as the next Sultan of Sulu, a clan position with pretensions to royal ownership of huge swathes of land including much of Sabah in Malaysia’s far east. He took the helm following the death of Esmail Kiram II last year.

Read more from Luke Hunt in  The Diplomat

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Luke Hunt is a foreign correspondent, author and occasional photographer who has covered much of Asia fr the last 30 years.

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