By Raissa Robles
It was by chance that I met Shayeed Kiram, a son of Raja Muda (Crown Prince) Agbimuddin Kiram who is now in Sabah facing the Malaysian armed forces.
I wanted to take a photo of Dayang Dayang (Princess) Nazhra, daughter of Sultan Jamulul Kiram III, but a man was in the way. I politely asked him to stand aside. He did, quickly and meekly.
That was when Nazhra told me “that was Raja Muda’s son”.
I hastily apologized to the man — and then asked if I could interview him.
He said I could provided I did not show his entire face. I videoed the part below which I thought was most important.
Shayeed narrated how he and his family had resided in Sabah during his childhood.
They went there to accompany their grandfather, Sultan Punjungan – younger brother of Esmail Kiram – because Malaysia’s first prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman had made a promise to make Punjungan the Sultan of Sabah.
In other words, to recognize Punjungan who was then the Raja Muda of Sultan Esmail Kiram, as the head of one of the royal houses in the newly-federated state of Malaysia.
Shayeed recalled it was for this reason that Raja Muda Agbimuddin and his family stayed with Sultan Punjungan in Sabah for a decade, waiting for that promise to be fulfilled. Shayeed said he studied in an elementary school in Sabah.
It was also for this reason that his father’s journey to Lahad Datu, Sabah last month was a coming home.
Shayeed wanted to go with his father to Lahad Datu, but was told to stay in Manila because the family needed someone who knew the Internet.
Later, he told me his father went to Sabah ready to die – he had said goodbye.
I have no way of confirming whether Malaysia’s first PM did make this promise to the Kiram family. But it is worth noting that Sabah is not and has never been represented by a royal family to this day.