It was widely reported by the Philippines media and in many other places that the self-styled “Sultan” of Sulu Jamalul Kiram III planned to use a 1915 treaty with the US to strengthen their claim over Sabah. However, we find it puzzling that this fake Sultan would want to rely on this treaty in the first place, since it was the very contents of this treaty which brought about the downfall of the Sulu Sultanate. This treaty, known as the “Carpenter Agreement of March 22, 1915” clearly states that — in return for accepting America’s sovereignty — the sultan is assured that the US won’t strip his nominal title or undermine his religious gravitas. In other words, the text signed is a document of capitulation to the sovereignty of the U.S. over the Sulu Sultanate, and not as recognition of the Sulu. It should also be noted that no mention of Sabah is contained within this Agreement.
On 22nd April 1903, Sultan Jamalul Kiram of the Sulu Sultanate signed a document known as “Confirmation of Cession of Certain Islands”, under which he has “ceded” additional islands in the neighbourhood of the mainland of North Borneo from Banggi Island to Sibuku Bay, to British North Borneo Company. The sum 5,000 dollars a year payable every year increased to 5,300 dollars a year payable every year. Note that this Agreement further clarifies the treaty of 1878, where it further affirms that the original word padjak clearly means cession, and not “lease”.