In February, armed Filipinos seized control of a village in the Malaysian state of Sabah, sparking a conflict with Malaysian security forces. The leader of the group claims to be the monarch of the Sulu sultanate, a former entity that once spanned the present-day border between the Philippines and Malaysia, before it was dissolved a century ago. In the past, the Philippines and Malaysia have disagreed on ownership of the region, but the two countries never seriously clashed on the issue - until this group took matters into their own hands. The crisis in Sabah has stirred nationalist sentiment in both countries. But beyond the immediate situation, it raises broader questions for the region.
How can Asian governments reconcile historical territorial claims with present-day state borders?
Although the member states of ASEAN are unlikely to start wars with each other, will we see more of such cross-border conflicts involving such armed groups?
How can governments deal with non-state actors that refuse to play by the rules?