Malaysia fights latest Sulu bid

KOTA KINABALU: Malaysia is taking legal action to stop the latest attempt by self-proclaimed Sulu heirs to seize what they deemed are Malaysian government-linked assets in the Netherlands.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said the so-called Sulu heirs were making their claims which were based on a controversial and disputed Paris Arbitration Court decision in February to award US$14.62bil (RM67.7bil) to them.

“Malaysia has instituted legal proceedings in Luxembourg and will take similar steps in the Netherlands to resist and set aside any attempt by the purported Sulu heirs to enforce or obtain a benefit from the impugned award,” he said in a statement.

Wan Junaidi was responding to various news reports that the Sulu claimants were attempting in Dutch courts to cite the Paris arbitration award, which is being disputed by Malaysia in French courts.

“Various Malaysian companies, including PETRONAS-linked assets, were mentioned in the media reports.

“I must stress here that PETRONAS’ assets are not assets belonging to the government of Malaysia and it would be an abuse of the process of any court to seek enforcement against such assets,” he said.

Wan Junaidi said the latest attempt to seize Malaysia’s supposed sovereign assets in the Netherlands is nothing more than yet another opportunistic act perpetrated in breach of international arbitration rules and norms under the New York Convention and the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law.

“Malaysia’s stand is that the award rendered in Paris in February was obtained irregularly and in circumstances of illegality,” he said.

“Additionally, no award should be enforced when in doing so, it’s unjust action will cause severe repercussions to the stability of another country,” he said.

In February, an arbitration court in France ordered Malaysia to pay US$14.9bil to the descendants of the Sulu sultan.

Spanish arbitrator Gonzolo Stampa issued the award in a Paris court, based on Malaysia’s alleged violation of payment of cession money under a 1878 agreement signed by Sultan Jamal Al Alam, among others.

However, Wan Junaidi maintained that the award granted by Stampa was “highly abnormal” on many different grounds.

“For example, the seat of arbitration was moved – in breach of Spanish arbitration law – from Spain to France after the Superior Court of Madrid had declared as nullities, both the appointment of the arbitrator and the subsequent arbitral proceedings,” he said.

He said the self-proclaimed Sulu heirs were continuing their efforts to attempt to enforce the impugned award in nation-states where Malaysia has dealings.

“Malaysia has taken court proceedings in France and Spain to set aside and render null, once and for all, the impugned award.

“Malaysia is confident that these proceedings will be resolved in Malaysia’s favour. Furthermore, Malaysia has initiated a global strategy to proactively resist and set aside any attempt by the purported Sulu heirs to seize or otherwise interfere with Malaysian assets abroad,” he said.

Wan Junaidi said the country would not tolerate or capitulate to those who seek to manipulate and abuse the system for personal gain or profit.

The Sulu claimants had attempted to seize PETRONAS assets in Luxembourg earlier this year and Malaysia has instituted legal proceedings to stop the action.

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