Sulu claim: Malaysia to go on the offensive, may sue claimants - Azalina

30 Jun 2023 05:31pm
Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said. - Bernama PIX
Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said. - Bernama PIX

KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia will be on the offensive and does not rule out the possibility of suing the Sulu group due to the losses suffered as a result of their legal pursuit, says Minister in the Prime Minister's Department (Law and Institutional Reform) Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said.

She said the government is considering suing the group as the costs incurred by Malaysia were very high.

"We will present a legal opinion to study what action the government needs to take against them, on whether we need to sue for the losses we face. The fight is not over, but for Malaysia (when) we fight, we fight fairly," she said.

In February, Azalina said the government had spent RM31 million on legal costs against the claims of eight purported heirs of the defunct Sulu Sultanate seeking compensation for land in Sabah, including costs of international legal services, court proceedings, translations, and historical and legal research from Nov 20, 2019, until Jan 20 this year.

Speaking to the media at the Asian International Arbitration Centre (AIAC) here today, Azalina described the group’s demand for US$14.9 billion (RM62.59 billion) from Malaysia through the arbitration process, as 'a new form of war'.

She said the claim was a ‘sophisticated attack,’ adding that the government would launch ‘an aggressive movement to put an end to it”.

According to Azalina, the government may take legal action in the United States (US) and the United Kingdom (UK) if it is proven that it is a fraudulent claim.

"The government's assurance is that we will fight all the way because we will not compromise against threats. We must end their moves in terms of funding and claims.

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"We are a sovereign country; we have to follow the law. If they want to make a claim, they should accept that The Hague Court of Appeal in the Netherlands has decided that there is no valid arbitration clause," she said.

Azalina said the claim was believed to be backed by funders from the US.

"The Cabinet has been informed but we still want to investigate. We have evidence but it is not comprehensive, so we want to confirm it but many of the comments are from America...we notice on our website, many of the viewers are from America,” she said, adding the matter is still under investigation.

On June 6, the Paris Court of Appeal upheld Malaysia's challenge against the partial award rendered on May 25, 2020, by Dr Gonzalo Stampa in the case filed by the eight individuals.

Stampa had issued a final award of US$14.9 billion (RM62.59 billion) against Malaysia, and Malaysia had used all legal remedies to annul the award given by Stampa to the claimants in courts in Spain, France, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands.

Malaysia scored another win when The Hague Court of Appeal on June 27 dismissed the Sulu group's application to recognise and enforce the final award in the country.

In their efforts to enforce the final award, the Sulu group has reportedly attempted to seize the assets of Malaysian petroleum company, Petronas in Luxembourg and the Netherlands as well as targeted Malaysian diplomatic assets in France (including the embassy).

In 2019, the group was reported to have taken legal action in the Spanish Court to seek compensation for land in Sabah, which was allegedly leased by their ancestors to a British trading company in 1878. - Bernama

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