MALAYSIA Tanah Tumpah Darahku



10 APRIL 2024

Friday, September 30, 2022

Wan Junaidi: Malaysia to counter Sulu heirs' bid to seize assets in Netherlands

Malaysia will take legal action in the Netherlands to resist and set aside any attempt by the heirs of the late Sulu sultan in their bid to enforce a US$15 billion (RM69.55 billion) arbitration award against the country. 

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Parliament and Law) Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said Malaysia will not tolerate those who “cynically seek to manipulate and abuse the system for personal gain or profit.”

“To that end, Malaysia will spare no expense in defending its sovereignty and its assets abroad wherever they may be situated,” he said in a statement today. 

Wan Junaidi (above) said that the latest attempt to seize Malaysia’s assets in the Netherlands by the Sulu heirs was nothing more than an “opportunistic act” perpetrated in breach and contravention of international arbitration rules and norms under the New York Convention and The United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL). 

This comes after Reuters reported yesterday that the heirs are seeking enforcement of a US$15 billion arbitration award granted to them against Malaysia’s government.

The heirs had asked a Dutch court for permission to seize Malaysian assets in the Netherlands, according to the report.

While the court petition did not specify which assets the heirs were referring to, it highlighted state oil firm Petronas and palm oil producer Sime Darby Plantations’ operations in the Netherlands.

However, Wan Junaidi denied that Petronas’ assets in the Netherlands were assets belonging to the Malaysian government.

“It would be an abuse of the process of any court to seek enforcement against such assets,” he said.

Confident of favourable outcomes

Back in February, the descendants of the Sulu sultanate obtained a US$14.9 billion award in an arbitration court in Paris, France. 

The matter did not garner much attention until the claimants enforced it on July 11 by seizing two Petronas subsidiaries in Luxembourg.

The following day, the Paris Court of Appeal in France on July 12 allowed the Malaysian government's application to stay the enforcement of the Final Award on claims by parties claiming to be heirs and successors-in-interest to Sultan Jamalul Kiram II.

Wan Junaidi contended, however, that the award was “obtained irregularly and in circumstances of illegality”, adding that no award should be enforced if it will cause severe repercussions to the stability of another country. 

“The award granted by the arbitrator was illegal and highly abnormal on many different grounds. 

“Taking one example, the seat of arbitration was moved - in breach of Spanish arbitration law - from Spain to France after the Superior Court of Madrid had declared as nullities, both the appointment of the arbitrator and the subsequent arbitral proceedings.

“Nonetheless, the purported Sulu heirs continue their efforts to attempt to enforce the impugned award opportunistically in nation-states where Malaysia has dealings,” he said. 

Wan Junaidi reiterated that Malaysia has taken court proceedings in France and Spain to set aside and render the award null. 

“Malaysia is confident that these proceedings will be resolved in Malaysia’s favour. 

“Further, Malaysia has initiated a global strategy to proactively resist and set aside any attempt by the purported Sulu heirs to seize or otherwise interfere with Malaysian assets abroad,” he said. - Mkini

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