Our Request To Halt Sulu Heirs From Enforcing Ruling Was Granted In Paris

Arbitration ruling was not supposed to be enforced in any country until a final decision is made by the Paris Court in relation to the government’s application to cancel such ruling in favour of the ‘heirs’

Kuala Lumpur – The Paris Court of Appeal (CoA) on Tuesday (12 July) allowed Malaysia’s application for a suspension order to temporarily halt the enforcement of an arbitration ruling in favour of the “heirs” of the Sulu Sultanate in the US$14.9b legal dispute between both parties, said Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Parliament and Laws) Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar.

In a statement Wednesday, the de facto law minister said the arbitration ruling was not supposed to be enforced in any country until a final decision is made by the Paris Court in relation to the government’s application to cancel such ruling, of which hearing dates have yet to be determined.

“The Suspension Order is the result of various legal actions taken by the government of Malaysia since the (Sulu Sultanate’s heirs’) claim was filed to end all claims and ensure that Malaysia’s interests, sovereign immunity and sovereignty remain protected and preserved,” he said.

Wan Junaidi stated that the Paris CoA’s decision on Tuesday was based on the fact that the arbitration ruling rendered by arbitrator Gonzalo Stampa would jeopardise Malaysia’s sovereign immunity.

The said arbitration ruling, dated Feb 28, resulted in seize orders being served on two of Petroliam Nasional Bhd’s Luxembourg-registered subsidiaries on Monday, as the claimants sought to enforce the ruling.

“On 11 July 2022, two subsidiaries of Petronas in Luxembourg were notified of the enforcement of the final award (from the arbitration ruling) through a notice issued by [the] Luxembourg Court. Petronas as a company will take necessary legal action to defend its position under the law,” said Wan Junaidi.

Wan Junaidi stated again that the government has never acknowledged these claims and has never waived the country’s sovereign immunity as a sovereign nation.

The legal dispute arose after Sultan Jamalul Kiram II’s “heirs” and “successors-in-interest” filed a claim against the Malaysian government in an international arbitration proceeding in Madrid, Spain.

1878 Agreement by Sultan Sulu

The claim is based on an agreement signed in 1878 between Sultan Mohamet Jamal Al Alam, the Sultan of Sulu at the time, and Baron de Overbeck and Alfred Dent, under which the Sultan of Sulu granted and ceded in perpetuity sovereign rights over certain territories in North Borneo that are now part of Sabah, Malaysia.

As a token, the then-Sulu Sultan, his heirs, or successors were to be paid RM5,300.00 per year. According to a March statement issued by Malaysia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Attorney General’s Chambers, such payments were discontinued in 2013 following the armed invasion of Lahad Datu. – New Malaysia Herald

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