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Sabah chief looks to ASEAN to quash Philippine territorial claim

Shafie Apdal urges Malaysian government to resolve dispute 'once and for all'

Sabah Chief Minister Shafie Apdal insists his state will remain in Malaysia during an interview with the Nikkei Asian Review. (Photo courtesy of the Sabah Chief Minister's Office)

KUALA LUMPUR -- The chief minister in Malaysia's eastern state of Sabah flatly rejected any Philippine rights to the territory in an interview, suggesting the government in Kuala Lumpur should take the intensifying dispute to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

Shafie Apdal, briefly endorsed by veteran statesman Mahathir Mohamad as the opposition's choice to replace Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, joined Sabah leaders from across the political spectrum in blasting recent Philippine efforts to assert a claim that dates back about 60 years.

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