KUALA LUMPUR (Aug 5): The special task force on the US$14.92 billion claims by heirs of the Sulu Sultanate during its first meeting discussed the legal action taken by the Malaysian government in Spain and France, said Minister in the Prime Minister's Department (Parliament and Law) Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar.
The meeting, which was held on Wednesday (Aug 3) and chaired by him, also discussed the issue of the annual payment of RM5,300, said Wan Junaidi.
"The government is confident that all ongoing and future actions and strategies to be implemented to handle this issue will yield positive results with support from all parties, especially the Malaysian people," the minister added in a statement on Friday.
He said the government's actions so far, including the formation of the task force, have showed that it is committed to ensuring that the best strategy is being adopted to handle the claims by the Sulu Sultanate heirs.
The task force was formed to formulate the appropriate legal action to address issues arising from the claims of the heirs of Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram II against the Malaysian government. Its members include Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Abdullah, Attorney General Tan Sri Idris Harun and experts in international arbitration.
The French arbitration court had ruled that Malaysia must pay at least US$14.92 billion claimed by the Sulu Sultanate over the lease of land in Sabah.
This followed international arbitration proceedings initiated by eight descendants of Sultan Jamalul Kiram II against the government of Malaysia in Madrid, Spain, based on an 1878 agreement between the sultan and Baron de Overbeck and Alfred Dent, which granted perpetual sovereign rights over land that now forms parts of Sabah, in exchange for a token payment of RM5,300 per year.
Wan Junaidi, in his statement, said the final award rendered by Spanish arbitrator Dr Gonzalo Stampa on Feb 28 did not touch on the issue of territorial acquisition of Sabah or the state's sovereignty.
The task force was also briefed on Stampa's appointment as arbitrator and that all his actions in relation to the arbitration had been nullified based on a decision by the High Court of Justice of Madrid on June 29, 2021, Wan Junaidi added.
The French court, meanwhile, on Dec 16 last year allowed Malaysia's application for a suspension to recognise Stampa's award to the heirs, and subsequently suspended the execution of such award on July 12, said Wan Juniadi.