MALAYSIA Tanah Tumpah Darahku



10 APRIL 2024

Friday, June 30, 2023

Bring it on, minister says to Sulu claimants


Minister Azalina Othman Said admitted that she and Paul Cohen, the lead counsel to the purported heirs of the defunct Sulu sultanate, can agree on one thing – the fight is not over.

“The guarantee of this government is that we will fight to the end. But while fighting, I want the costs to be paid first. You talk like a hero but pay the cost first.

“We will not stop and we will not compromise to any blackmail by any countries or any individuals out there, whether Malaysian or not.

“You tell him (Cohen) if you want to fight, then fight fairly. Don’t jump from jurisdiction to jurisdiction,” said the minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Law and Institutional Reform).

Azalina was speaking during a press conference at the Asian International Arbitration Centre (AIAC) headquarters in Kuala Lumpur today.

It was reported earlier that Cohen said the fight is “far from over” despite the Dutch Court of Appeal’s recent decision to nullify the final arbitration award to the Sulu claimants.

Cohen reportedly said they have other avenues to pursue, such as mounting an appeal to the Dutch Supreme Court.

The claimants initially sought arbitration in Spain after Malaysia ceased an annual payment of RM5,300 to the Sulu sultanate in 2013. This came after the Lahad Datu incursion in the same year.

Malaysia did not participate in the arbitration process in Spain on the grounds that it was illegal.

Arbitrator Gonzalo Stampa, who was appointed by the Spanish courts to hear the matter, decided in favour of the claimants, but the High Court of Justice of Madrid annulled Stampa as an arbitrator in the case in June 2021.

Since last year, the claimants have been attempting to enforce the final award in France, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands by seizing Malaysian assets.

Apart from the Dutch courts, the French courts have also dismissed the claimants’ bid to enforce the final award in France.

Azalina previously said the Dutch court recognised Stampa’s annulment as an arbitrator and thus, invalidated all of his procedural acts.

‘Foreign shopping’

In the press conference today, Azalina said it is the claimants’ right to pursue this case in the various jurisdictions, but questioned the need to keep “foreign shopping” when the legal processes have not been completed in the other countries.

“By jumping (jurisdictions), it is very obvious that you don’t want the truth to be told,” the minister said.

However, she said Malaysia intends to follow all legal procedures in fighting the cases against the claimants.

Meanwhile, AIAC director N Sundra Rajoo said the decision by the Dutch Court of Appeal at the Hague will be “very persuasive” to the other jurisdictions.

“The Dutch court decision is important because it is the first testing of the final award under the New York Convention (on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards),” he explained.

Azalina previously said this decision confirms Malaysia’s position that the “sham” arbitration award should never have taken place. - Mkini

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