Other countries to be given heads-up on Sulu Sultanate claims

KUANTAN: The government will be submitting notices to 168 countries on a possible unilateral legal claim for the heirs of the defunct Sulu Sultanate.

Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Abdullah said this was a diplomatic process to inform the signees of the New York Convention of a possible attempt by Spanish arbitrator Dr Gonzalo Stampa or other parties to bring a unilateral claim to their courts.

“What we are doing is a proactive diplomatic process. As friends, we are giving early information to these countries so they will be aware if there’s any attempt.

“So, before he or anyone else does it, these countries will already know it is a unilateral action,” he told reporters at the Indera Mahkota Perikatan Nasional Hari Raya open house here yesterday.

Saifuddin said the government had successfully obtained a court order in Spain to declare the initial “arbitration award” issued by Stampa to the so-called heirs of the Sulu Sultan as null and void.

He added that Stampa, however, had recently pursued similar action in Paris and the government had already filed an application to revoke the exequatur order.

It was reported that Malaysia was instructed by a French arbitration court to pay the descendants of the Sulu Sultanate a sum of US$14.92bil (RM62.6bil).

However, the Foreign Ministry and Attorney General’s Chambers had stated that the Malaysian government does not recognise the claim made by the Sulu Sultan’s heirs as Malaysia did not participate in the proceedings.

On a related note, Saifuddin said he and officials from the Foreign Ministry, Attorney General’s Chambers, National Security Council and the Survey and Mapping Department had met with Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor to discuss the Federal Government’s measures in tackling claims by the Sulu heirs.

“We agreed there should be more frequent meetings so that the information exchange can help smoothen efforts in addressing this issue.

“We also agreed that the Malaysia-Indonesia maritime and land border committees will be joined by representatives from Sabah in negotiations involving the state.”

Saifuddin said he would also meet with the Sarawak Premier and mentris besar of states bordering other countries so there could be a more systematic approach in dealing with relations between the federal and state governments.

On criticisms levelled against the appointment of Pasir Salak MP Datuk Seri Tajuddin Abdul Rahman as ambassador to Indonesia, Saifuddin said there was a lengthy process to clear a candidate.

“Before a name is submitted as a proposed ambassador, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong must agree to it first. That’s all of my comment on the matter,” he said.

He added that a number of names had already been agreed upon and they were just waiting for a date from Istana Negara to receive their credentials.

Saifuddin also said 25 other candidates were currently being processed.

He said it was a large number because Malaysia had not been able to deploy ambassadors for the past two years due to Covid-19.

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