PETALING JAYA: The district court of Luxembourg has set aside an attachment order requested by heirs of the late sultan of Sulu last Tuesday, says law and institutional reform minister Azalina Othman Said.
In July 2022, two Luxembourg-based subsidiaries of Petronas were seized by court bailiffs as part of the heirs’ effort to claim the award. This came after the attachment order was given on July 11.
In a statement, Azalina said Malaysia had immediately applied to the district court of Luxembourg to set aside the attachment order as part of interim relief. The hearing took place on Dec 5.
“This decision vindicates the government’s policy to vigorously defend Malaysia in every forum to ensure that Malaysia’s interests, sovereign immunity and sovereignty are protected and preserved at all times.
“The government will spare no effort to this end,” she said in a statement.
In February 2022, a French arbitration court instructed Putrajaya to pay US$14.92 billion (RM62.59 billion) to the descendants of the last sultan of Sulu.
The arbitrator, Gonzalo Stampa, ruled that Malaysia had violated the 1878 agreements between the old Sulu kingdom in the Philippines and a representative of the British North Borneo Company that used to administer what is now Sabah.
The arbitration process originated in Spain, but was moved to Paris.
Azalina said Stampa was “unlawfully appointed” and that Malaysia had been consistent in refusing to recognise the legitimacy of the purported arbitration.
“Malaysia has availed itself of all available legal remedies to invalidate the appointment of Stampa and his purported ‘awards’.
“As a result, the Spanish court that initially appointed Stampa retroactively invalidated his appointment and nullified the alleged ‘preliminary award’ that he rendered in Madrid.
“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’.”
The dispute has its origin in the 1878 Deed of Cession between the then sultan of Sulu, Sultan Jamal Al Alam, and Baron de Overbeck, the then maharaja of Sabah, and British North Borneo Company’s Alfred Dent.
Under the agreement, Jamal ceded sovereignty over large parts of Sabah to Overbeck and Dent, who agreed that they and their future heirs were to pay the heirs of the sultan 5,000 Mexican dollars annually.
In 1936, the last formally recognised sultan of Sulu, Jamalul Kiram II, died without heirs. Payments temporarily ceased until North Borneo High Court chief justice Charles F Macaskie named nine court-appointed heirs in 1939.
Although Malaysia took over these payments when it became the successor of the agreement following Sabah’s independence and the formation of Malaysia in 1963, these payments – equivalent to RM5,300 a year – ceased in 2013 after an incursion by armed men into Lahad Datu, along the eastern coast of Sabah.
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