Luxembourg court decision gives Sabahans renewed fire to defend state sovereignty, says Bung Moktar

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah Umno has welcomed the decision of a European court to set aside an order to seize two companies owned by PETRONAS, which was requested by the self-proclaimed Sulu heirs.

Its chief Datuk Seri Bung Moktar Radin paid tribute to the team formed by the Attorney General for the decision, saying the initial success has given some relief as well as renewed spirit to Sabahans in protecting the state from external elements.

The former Sabah deputy chief minister was most likely referring to the Sabah claim by the so-called heirs.

“It has been Sabah Umno’s firm stance that Sabah is an independent and sovereign region, which chose to form Malaysia, together with Sarawak and Malaya.

“Any attempt to challenge that sovereignty will be met with full opposition,” he said in a statement here on Friday (Jan 27).

Towards this end, Bung Moktar called on the Sabah government to issue a statement over the matter and make a similar stand to show its seriousness and to stand in solidarity with Sabahans over the issue.

Law and Institutional Reform Minister Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said had made the announcement over the decision by the District Court of Luxembourg on Thursday (Jan 26).

Azalina said Malaysia had applied immediately to the District Court to obtain interim relief in the form of the lifting of the attachment.

“The hearing then took place on Dec 5, 2022 before the judge of the District Court whereupon the attachment was set aside,” she said in a statement.

At this juncture, Bung Moktar, however, reminded that Malaysia has only cleared the first hurdle as the decision by the District Court was only an interim relief and that the so-called Sulu heirs have yet to end their pursuit in Luxembourg as well as Spain and France.

“But hopefully, this initial victory can be a catalyst for the Spanish and French courts to (eventually) quash their bid,” he said.

On July 11 last year, an attachment order was served on PETRONAS Azerbaijan (Shah Deniz) and PETRONAS South Caucasus companies over the seizure of their assets by bailiffs representing the eight alleged Sulu heirs.

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

Azalina noted that the Spanish court that appointed arbitrator Gonzalo Stampa, who purportedly granted the Sulu heirs’ claim of US$14.92bil, had invalidated Stampa’s appointment and nullified the alleged “preliminary award” that he had rendered in Madrid.

She added the French courts have stayed the enforcement of the purported “final award” rendered by Stampa in France, pending the outcome of Malaysia’s action to set aside the final award.

Last year, a French arbitration court ordered Malaysia to pay the descendants of the Sultan of Sulu US$14.92bil.

Stampa, who is from Spain, issued the award in a Paris court of arbitration where Malaysia was not represented.

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