KOTA KINABALU: Some 20 Filipino men who were members of Knights of The Rights Keepers, an illegal society in Sabah, were sentenced on Monday to 18 months in jail for participating in alleged illegal activities.
Jessica Ombou Kakayun, a Kota Kinabalu magistrate sentenced the 20, aged between 19 and 40, after they pleaded guilty to the offence under Section 43 of Societies Act 1966, an online portal reported.
The 20 are Aimi Salleh, Saudi Salleh, Ali Asahad, Muhammad Suip, Darwin Abbas, Bantasan Jalau, Abd Yakin Suip, Junior Al, Berry Asadir, Touch Hamid. Adil Sadapi, Sahi Apai, Al Mujir Abdul, Arsi Salleh, Hassan Albah, Abdul Latip Musa, Saddam Abdul, Mukim Hiraji, Arabas Abdul and Amri Saril.
Under the section, the Act provides for a maximum jail term of three years, a maximum fine of RM5,000 or both.
The Star reported that all 20 had committed the offence at a housing area for estate workers in Lahad Datu on 9.40pm on June 24
According to the portal, during mitigation, Saudi asked for a lenient sentence for him and his friends as this was their first offence.
He also told the court that their society’s mission was only intended to help those who are in need.
“For example, we will help a friend who is facing financial difficulties,” he was quoted as saying.
However, Magistrate Kakayun pointed out that the banners used by the society were unnecessary as it reminded people were of the 2013 Lahad Datu intrusion.
The group was later taken to the Sessions Court here to face another charge at of illegal entry into Sabah, where they also pleaded guilty to the offence under the Immigration Act.
Sessions Court judge Azreena Aziz sentenced them to jail terms running for four to five months, and held that that their sentences should run concurrently with the sentences for being members of the illegal society.
Based on internet reports, the Knights of the Right Keepers, is an organisation set up by indigenous Filipinos residing in Sabah for the welfare of their people living here.
The origin of this organisation is the Western Mindanao University in Zamboanga City, the Philippines. It was founded in 1970 by university students as a “fraternity” and “sorority” group.
The organisation supposedly remains as a “support” structure for Pinoys living in Sabah. It is literally unknown and operates very secretively within the Pinoy community in Sabah.
Why and how this organisation came into force in Sabah is still unclear. There are suspicions though that the organisation may be involved in the kidnappings of the two Malaysians.
It may also be a front organisation for terrorist groups operating in Sabah, but this remains to be proven.