Why keep silent over court action by sultanate’s heirs, Yong asks Warisan

Former Sabah chief minister Yong Teck Lee says the Sulu Sultan’s descendants have managed to obtain a court order from Spain to appoint an arbitrator over their claim to the state.

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) president Yong Teck Lee has questioned the “silence” by Warisan leaders over the claim on Sabah by descendants claiming to be the rightful heirs of the Sulu sultanate in the Philippines.

Yong said the descendants from the Kiram family had gone a step further by taking their claims to a court in Madrid, Spain.

He said the family managed to obtain a court order from Spain, the former colonial master of the Philippines, to appoint an arbitrator over their claim to the state.

“The fact that the Kiram family has managed to take its frivolous claim to the international level is problematic.

“Warisan leaders need to answer some questions — did Sabah Chief Minister Shafie Apdal and then de facto law minister Liew Vui Keong know about the Kiram legal proceedings in Spain in July last year?

“Or have they been sleeping soundly on their jobs?” he asked in a statement here today.

The Daily Express reported earlier this week that High Court judge Martin Idang had ruled in favour of the government of Malaysia in its suit against eight of the supposed descendants of the Sultan of Sulu on March 17.

In his ruling, Idang had said the High Court in Malaysia is the proper venue to resolve disputes arising from the 1878 Deed of Cession and not the Spanish courts, which neither have the authority nor the jurisdiction over Malaysia.

He added that there was no binding agreement between the government and the Sultan’s heirs that compels either party to submit to arbitration in the event of a dispute.

Yong questioned whether the Kiram family had been spurred on to take the claim overseas after Shafie stressed in Parliament in 2016 on the urgent need by Malaysia to take the matter to the international stage.

He said Shafie had told the Dewan Rakyat then: “Why not once and for all, bawa sama ada Bangsa Bangsa Bersatu ataupun Mahkamah Antarabangsa supaya padamkan, jangan generasi mendatang menghadapi masalah di Sabah?” (“Why not, for once and for all, bring this matter to the United Nations or the International Court to deny this claim so that future generations will not face problems in Sabah?”)

“Is it possible that the Kiram family was encouraged by this speech in Parliament to take their Sabah claim to an international platform?

“Why have Warisan ministers and ex-federal ministers been silent on the Kiram claim to Sabah at a Spanish court?

“They have a duty to shed more light on the Kiram legal action. If these Warisan leaders remain silent or try to skip the issue, then the people are entitled to think that something is not right,” Yong said.

The Philippines has a long-standing claim on Sabah. Malaysia has repeatedly dismissed such claims, saying the state is recognised by the United Nations and the international community as part of Malaysia.

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