In the post “The Landlord Wants Us Out“, I reported on the invasion and occupation of a small village in eastern part of the Malaysian state of Sabah by a group of armed men pressing a land claim from the 19th century on behalf of the Sultanate of Sulu.
Sadly, as feared, the three week old confrontation has turned tragic and fatal. As of Monday the 4th of March, 8 policemen and 19 insurgents had died in exchange of fire. Then yesterday, the Malaysian police and security forces launched an attack on the group supported by jet planes on bombing strafes and artillery shells. There were thankfully no more casualties on the Malaysian side but more insurgents have probably been killed. However there is concern that many of the insurgents managed to escape the attack and the security cordon and are hiding in the surrounding area masquerading as local villagers. Security forces are carrying out door- to – door searches and “mopping up” operations to try to contain any remaining threat.
Our national anthem has a line in it that translates as “this is the land that I would dare to shed my blood for…..” and for those 8 policemen, they have made that ultimate sacrifice and their blood has been spilt so that others may continue to live in safety and peace. There are no words that can bring comfort to their loved ones and families but nevertheless the country honors them for their sacrifices. It just seems that all the death and sorrow was so unnecessary. The price of this insanely, mad adventure of those armed intruders have been paid – a heavy price in blood and tears for both sides.