KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia's foreign minister has dismissed a former Philippine senator's claim to the Malaysian state of Sabah, saying it exposes an "ignorance of history and international law".
Datuk Seri Anifah Aman was responding to media reports on Tuesday (Jan 30) that Mr Aquilino Pimentel said the Philippine government should push for the country's claim to Sabah in a way that is acceptable to international laws.
"The government of Malaysia reiterates its position that Malaysia does not recognise and will not entertain any claims by any party on Sabah," said the minister in a statement on Wednesday.
"Statements such as these will only expose the ignorance of history and international law of those who make them, as well as potentially harming the excellent bilateral relations which Malaysia and the Philippines currently enjoy," he said.
Mr Pimentel, a member of the Philippines' Consultative Committee, told ABS-CBN News Channel (ANC) on Tuesday that including Sabah in Philippine territory was part of his proposed constitutional amendments.
"There should be a way that is acceptable under international laws to assert our claim to Sabah," he told ANC. "I think we can defer it a little bit more but to say that we stop doing it is not in the context of my proposal."
According to ANC, Mr Pimentel's proposal for the new federal government includes 12 federal states: Northern Luzon, Central Luzon, Southern Luzon, Bicol, Eastern Visayas, Central Visayas, Western Visayas, Minparom, Northern Mindanao, Southern Mindanao, Bangsamoro.
He said the government can later add Sabah as the 13th federal state.
According to the broadcaster, President Rodrigo Duterte promised during the 2016 elections that his administration will pursue the Sabah claim "but only by peaceful means".
The Philippines' claim to Sabah rests on an 1878 land lease agreement between the Sulu sultanate and the British North Borneo Chartered Co, ANC reported. The Philippines maintains that the agreement only leased the land but did not render Sabah part of Malaysia when it was formed into a federation in 1963.