Jamalul Kiram III

Jamalul ibni Punjungan Kiram III (16 July 1938 – 20 October 2013)[1][2] was a former self-proclaimed Sultan of the Sulu Sultanate[3] who claimed to be "the poorest sultan in the world".[4] He was known as an unsuccessful candidate for senator in the Philippine general elections in 2007. In 2013, Kiram III sparked a controversy when he revived a dispute between the Philippines and Malaysia by leading an intrusion into the eastern part of Sabah. His daughter is Princess Jacel Kiram, a proponent of the Sabah claim of the Philippines in 2016.[5][6][7][8]

Jamalul Kiram III
Pretender to the Sulu Sultanate
Pretence15 June 1986 – 20 October 2013
PredecessorAguimuddin Abirin and Mohammad Akijal Atti
SuccessorIsmael Kiram II
Born(1938-07-16)16 July 1938
Maimbung, Sulu, Commonwealth of the Philippines
Died20 October 2013(2013-10-20) (aged 75)
Quezon City, Philippines
IssueJacel Kiram
HouseRoyal House of Kiram
FatherDatu Punjungan Kiram
MotherSharifa Usna Dalus Strattan
ReligionSunni Islam

Early life

Jamalul was born in Mainbung, Sulu. He was the eldest son of Datu Punjungan Kiram and Sharifa Usna Dalus Strattan. He is descended from the first Sultan of Sulu, Sharif ul-Hāshim of Sulu from the Banu Hashem tribe, the direct descendants of Muhammad.[9] Kiram III also claimed to have a common ancestor with Brunei's current sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, although this was denied by Brunei.[10]

Kiram III studied in Jolo Central Elementary School from 1946 to 1951. He finished high school at the Sulu High School in 1955 and took up pre-law from 1956 to 1958 at Notre Dame of Jolo. He studied for a Bachelor of Law degree from Manuel L. Quezon University (MLQU) in 1964 but was unable to finish it and pursued a career in dance instead.[2] He was married to Dayang Hadja Fatima Celia H. Kiram, and resided in Taguig, Metro Manila. He had two daughters, including Jacel Kiram.

As pretender

He claimed to be responsible for the release of the American and the German nationals from the captivity of the lost command of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in 1984. He established livelihood programs in Sulu, Tawi-Tawi and Palawan through the Sulu-Marine and Seven Seas Corporations. During the Zamboanga City crisis, he criticised his previous ally, Nur Misuari, for waging a war against the Philippine government. He also served as the president of the Philippine Pencak Silat Association and once served as a board member in the Philippine Olympic Committee. In the 2007 elections, he unsuccessfully ran as Senator under the banner of TEAM Unity.[11] He had previously Legislative and Executive Advisory Council on the Sabah Claim Presidential Adviser on Muslim Royalties' Concern under Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. With his retirement, the succession rights of the sultanate was disputed among his heirs such as Mohammad Akijal Atti. The dispute on the succession rights ended on 11 November 2012 when claimants from the Kiram family (descendants of Punjungan Kiram only) met together in Sulu, ending their decade-long feud. After the family meeting, Kiram III once again became the self-proclaimed Sultan alongside Ismael Kiram II. He also declared Rajah Mudah Agbimuddin Kiram as "crown prince".[5] He was a member of the Ruma Betchara (Council of the Sultan) during the reign of his late uncle, Esmail Kiram. He acted in place of his father during the absence of his father Punjungan Kiram while in Sabah and later proclaimed himself in 1984 as 33rd Sultan of Sulu and was crowned on 15 June 1986 in Jolo, Sulu. Kiram III forged the century-old relationships between Sulu and China during a so-called royal visit to Dezhou, where the descendants of Sulu King Paduka Pahala live, in the Shandong Province of the People's Republic of China in September 1999 with an 87-man entourage. The visit concluded with the signing of the agreement between Hebei Province and the Sulu Sultanate on agricultural technology exchange. He also forged bilateral relationships between the Don Sasagawa Foundation of Japan and the Sultan Jamalul Ahlam Foundation. Jamalul Alam was the recipient of various hospital equipment from Japan which were in turn donated to the Sulu Provincial Hospital in 1992.

Beginning on 9 February 2013, approximately 200 men led by his brother, Agbimuddin Kiram intruded into neighbouring Sabah in Malaysia by entering illegally into Lahad Datu, in an effort to assert the former Sulu Sultanate's claim to the state. Kiram was reported to have directed them to intrude and not leave, claiming that "Malaysia is only renting Sabah" from the heirs of the Sultanate. The men, many of whom were heavily armed, engaged in a standoff with Malaysian police and armed forces which saw the death of 56 of his followers while the rest were either captured or escaped.[2][12][13] The intrusion into neighbouring territory was believed to have been caused when the Philippine government treated him and his wife only as "decorations" during the signing of a framework agreement with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).[2] President Benigno Aquino III blamed Kiram and his followers for dragging the Philippines into the dispute, with a bad impact on overseas Filipinos in Malaysia and hurting relations between the two.[2][14][15] His act drew criticism from most Filipinos in Sabah as many of them have become a victim of discrimination and retaliation from the local Borneo tribes due to the killing of Malaysian police who mainly comprising the indigenous Borneo races,[16] as well from other claimants who decried his actions and want to retake the eastern part of Sabah through peaceful means without any bloodshed.[17][18][19][20]


On 20 October 2013, Kiram III died at the age of 75 due to multiple organ failure.[2] He made a dying request to be buried at the capital of the Sultanate in Maimbung, Sulu. He left eight children by two wives.[21] Numerous political personalities paid their respects to the late Sultan including Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Governor Mujiv Hataman and Sulu Vice-governor Abdusakur Mahail Tan,[22] Former First Lady of the Philippines Imelda Marcos,[23] and the Malacañang Palace.[24]

His spokesman said that their "royal family" would continue to pursue their main intention over the former dispute between Philippines and Malaysia.[25] The Malaysian branch of police in Sabah has stated that they "would continue to be alert for any intrusion".[26]


Kiram III's daughter, Princess Jacel Kiram, is the designated spokeswoman of the late sultan and the most known of all the members of the Sulu royal family. The princess is currently living in a subdivision established by the Philippine government in Taguig in 1974, along with other members of Kiram III's family. Her father's royal bloodline established her royal ties with the Muslim royals of Sulu, Basilan, Tawi-tawi, Maguindanao, and Lanao del Sur. Her grandmother from the maternal side came from Pangasinan in the Ilocos Region, while her grandfather came from Sorsogon in the Bicol Region. Her name is literally an amalgamation of the Muslim name, Jamulul (from her father), and the Christian name, Celia (from her mother). In 2002, she finished her bachelor of arts with a degree in Inter-Disciplinary Studies at De La Salle–College of Saint Benilde. During that time, her thesis, “The Sulu Sultanate’s Genealogy and its Relation to the Philippines’ Claim to Sabah” was declared as Best Thesis. In 2013, she married Moh Yusop Hasan, a Filipino army major. In 2017, she headed the Philippine delegation on the 19th World Festival of Youth and Students in the World Federation of Democratic Youth held in Sochi, Russia. She was also a delegate of the Philippines to China in celebration of the 600th Year of Sulu-China Friendship, coinciding with the book launching of Friendship Without Borders, in Guangxi. Jacel also participated in a United Nations-sponsored conference on Drug Control Program held at the United Nations Office in Vienna, Austria. She was also the chairman of People's Coalition for Peace.[27]


  1. "Jamalul Kiram III". The Telegraph. 25 October 2013. Retrieved 26 October 2015.
  2. Joel Guinto; Clarissa Batino (21 October 2013). "Sultan Jamalul Kiram III, Who Led Revolt in Malaysia, Dies at 75". Bloomberg.com. Bloomberg. Retrieved 22 October 2013.
  3. Joseph Liow; Michael Leifer (20 November 2014). Dictionary of the Modern Politics of Southeast Asia. Routledge. pp. 36–. ISBN 978-1-317-62233-8.
  4. "Kiram: I'm the poorest sultan in the world". The Philippine Star. Associated Press. 8 March 2013. Retrieved 8 March 2013.
  5. "Heirs of Sultan of Sulu pursue Sabah claim on their own". Philippine Daily Inquirer. 16 February 2013. Retrieved 20 February 2013.
  6. "Press Statement: Meeting with the Secretary of Foreign Affairs of the Philippines, H.E. Albert F. del Rosario on 4 March 2013". Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Malaysia. 5 March 2013. Archived from the original on 8 March 2013. Retrieved 7 March 2013.
  7. "Semporna villagers beat to death ex-Moro commander". The Star. 3 March 2013. Retrieved 11 October 2013.
  8. "Sabahans will not forget Lahad Datu incident — Musa". Bernama. The Borneo Post. 30 June 2013. Retrieved 11 October 2013.
  9. Floyd Whaley (20 October 2013). "Jamalul Kiram III, Self-Proclaimed Sultan, Dies at 75". The New York Times. Retrieved 20 October 2013.
  10. Alito Malinao (27 August 1989). "No links with Kiram, says Brunei embassy". Manila Standard. Retrieved 19 June 2015.
  11. "CV of Jamalul D. Kiram III". Philippine Daily Inquirer. 23 February 2007. Archived from the original on 6 October 2012. Retrieved 3 January 2011.
  12. Kronologi pencerobohon Lahad Datu (video) (in Malay). Astro Awani. 15 February 2014. Event occurs at 1:20. Retrieved 27 February 2014.
  13. Najiah Najib (30 December 2013). "Lahad Datu invasion: A painful memory of 2013". Astro Awani. Retrieved 30 December 2013.
  14. Angela Casauay (6 March 2013). "Tawi-Tawi misses the old Sabah". Rappler. Retrieved 23 July 2015.
  15. Michael Lim Ubac (7 March 2013). "Aquino: I won't allow Sulu sultan to drag PH into war with Malaysia". Philippine Daily Inquirer. Archived from the original on 24 July 2014. Retrieved 7 March 2013. President Aquino said in a statement, 'I appeal to you (Jamalul Kiram III) — we should be really clear on this — this incident is wrong. If this is wrong, why should we (the government) lend support to this? We should support what is right… which will lead us to brighter prospects; the wrong option will only bring us ruin. That's it, that's my simple message.' He also added 'Let's not forget: What they (the Jamalul Kiram III faction) are pushing for is their right as so-called heirs of the sultan of Sulu. It's not yet clear if their rights have been transferred to the Philippines. But we (the Philippines citizens and our nation) will all be affected by their conflict (with Malaysia).'
  16. Charlie Saceda (6 March 2013). "Pinoys in Sabah fear retaliation". Rappler. Archived from the original on 24 October 2015. Retrieved 7 March 2013.
  17. "Statement from Ampun Muedzul-Lail Tan Kiram, 35th Sultan of Sulu". PRLog. 15 February 2013. Retrieved 21 February 2013.
  18. Allan Afdal Nawal (26 February 2013). "2 more claim to be real sultan of Sulu". Philippine Daily Inquirer. Retrieved 26 February 2013.
  19. "Businessman: I am the Sultan of North Borneo". The Star. 21 February 2013. Archived from the original on 13 April 2013. Retrieved 26 February 2013.
  20. "Suluk leader: 'Over my dead body I'll allow Filipinos to claim Sabah'". The Star. Asian News Network. 11 March 2013. Archived from the original on 22 March 2013. Retrieved 20 June 2014.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  21. Angela Casauay (20 October 2013). "Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III dies". Agence France-Presse. Rappler. Retrieved 21 October 2013.
  22. Julie S. Alipala (20 October 2013). "ARMM governor, Sulu vice governor extend condolences to Kiram's family". Philippine Daily Inquirer. Retrieved 21 October 2013.
  23. "Lack of clearance hampers burial before sundown for Kiram". GMA News. 20 October 2013. Retrieved 21 October 2013.
  24. "Palace sympathizes with Kirams over sultan's death". GMA News. 20 October 2013. Retrieved 21 October 2013.
  25. Joel Guinto; Clarissa Batino (20 October 2013). "Sulu's Sultan Dies, Sought to Restore Reign over Sabah". Bloomberg.com. Bloomberg. Retrieved 21 October 2013.
  26. "Dying Sulu Sultan: Pursue Sabah claim". The Philippine Star. 21 October 2013. Retrieved 22 October 2013.
  27. "Geopolitics and a Princess: Conversation on Sabah | Roger Pe". 18 April 2018.
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