save malaysia!

Analysts: Fight Sulu claims to the end

Publish date: Thu, 08 Jun 2023, 12:22 AM

KUALA LUMPUR: Analysts want the government to gear up and continue the fight in ongoing court cases involving the self-proclaimed heirs of the defunct Sulu Sultanate.

Nusantara Academy for Strategic Research senior fellow Dr Azmi Hassan said Malaysia's recent victory against the claimants was only a partial win as there were other ongoing court cases.

One case is at a Luxembourg court, which on May 18, 2022, recognised an arbitration decision and "final award" for Malaysia to pay eight so-called Sulu heirs US$14.92 billion. The court issued an ex parte exequatur order and Malaysia is challenging this order before the Luxembourg Court of Appeal.

"It's a partial victory because there are other court cases that are still pending, the one in Luxembourg for example.

"The next step for Malaysia is to try to prove that claims by the Sulu claimants are baseless as the Sulu Agreement 1878 was a black and white issue that cannot be solved through arbitration.

"Malaysia should prove that the claimants are not the heirs of the Sulu Sultanate. Only then can we settle this once and for all," he told the New Straits Times.

The Sulu Agreement 1878 was signed by the then Sultan of Sulu Sultan Mohamet Jamal Al Alam leasing Sabah to Alfred Dent and Baron de Overbeck in perpetuity, as well as the right to profit from its minerals, forest products and animals. They would pay the sultan RM5,300 in annual rent.

On Tuesday, Malaysia won the battle to set aside a Paris Arbitration Court's decision to award US$14.94 billion to the so-called heirs of the defunct Sulu Sultanate.

Minister in the Prime Minister's Department (Law and Institutional Reform) Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said said the decision meant the eight claimants could no longer use the sham award in France for any purpose.

On another matter, Azmi said internal claims involving Kedah and Penang gave the perception that Malaysia is unstable and dealing with multiple claims.

"Internal claimants should take a lesson from the Sulu claimants."

Last month, Kedah Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Muhammad Sanusi Md Nor repeated his belief that Kedah "owns Penang", saying that Kedah's territory extended to Balik Pulau on Penang island.

On the so-called Sulu Sultanate heirs cases, constitutional expert Professor Dr Rohimi Shapiee said Malaysia must be steadfast and resolute in the court cases brought by the claimants until the end.

He said Malaysia's team needed to look into a strategy "to strike back", such as making counter claims, seeking a monetary deposit before the case can advance or initiating independent legal suits where suitable.

"On the domestic front, we have to adopt administrative, judicial and legislative measures where possible.

"The issue involves difficult and complex questions of international law that touches, among others, on sovereignty, interpretation of a treaty, succession of a treaty and historical and legal analysis.

"It is absurd that this matter can be decided on through commercial arbitration presided over by a single arbitrator."

He said the government should look into how government agencies and officials handled the matter in the past and correct the government's legal position where possible.

"This is because, in many instances, a unilateral statement by a state official may be considered legally binding under international law."

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said Sanusi's remarks were irresponsible and that he had received documents related to the former's claims, including a police report.

Anwar had said Penang's position as a state in Malaysia that is separate from Kedah is clearly stated under Clause 2 of Article 1 of the Federal Constitution.

Eight Philippine claimants - three retirees (aged 69, 69 and 75), three unemployed persons (aged 52, 66 and 71), a school administrator (aged 55) and a businessman (aged 75) - are claiming billions of US dollars from Malaysia.

They assert that the Sulu Sultanate had only "leased" Sabah in exchange for RM5,300 a year. Malaysia insists that the Sulu Sultanate gave Sabah away 144 years ago in return for yearly payment.

The Special Secretariat on Sulu Claims had condemned a letter sent to the Attorney-General's Chambers from Paul Cohen, the legal counsel of the so-called Sulu heirs, demanding immediate payment of the "final award" of US$16.412 billion.

The "final award" amount is far higher than the RM5,300 annual sum agreed to by the Sulu Sultanate in 1878 and 1903 in relation to Sabah.

The letter alleged that Malaysia had failed to comply with the "final award" on purpose and that Malaysia's assertions on the arbitrator of the case in Spain, Gonzalo Stampa, were outrageous.

The attorney-general responded to Cohen's letter, listing all the indisputable facts on the claim.

The letter said Malaysia had on Dec 14, 2021 filed a criminal complaint to the Spanish public prosecutor against Stampa over his disregard of judicial decisions in Spain.

The claimants have sought arbitration for this non-commercial matter in a few European countries, such as France, Spain, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.

Be the first to like this. Showing 0 of 0 comments

Post a Comment