THE Malaysian Government has reportedly been instructed to pay at least US$14.92 bil (RM62.59 bill) to the descendants of the last Sulu sultan.
According to Malaysiakini, citing Spanish news website La Información, the ruling was made following a violation of the 1878 agreement signed by Sultan Jamal Al Alam, Baron de Overbeck and the British North Borneo Company’s Alfred Dent.
It is to note that Malaysia had stopped paying Sultan Sulu’s heirs their annual RM5,300 cession money since 2013 as a result of the Lahad Datu armed incursion.
It was reported that Spanish arbitrator, Gonzalo Stampa, had issued the award in an arbitration court in Paris, France.
Called the “largest arbitration in Spain”, the article said Stampa ruled that the 1878 treaty constituted a commercial “international private lease agreement”.
And by stopping the payment since 2013, Malaysia had breached the agreement. If the award is not cancelled, Malaysia now has three months to pay up or risk paying interest.
The Sulu sultan’s descendants had initially wanted to claim US$32.2 bil (RM135.08 bil) from Malaysia to recover the unpaid cession money along with how much they believe should have been paid for the oil and gas found in the region.
The Sulu monarch’s descendants were represented by Spanish law firm B Cremades & Asociados, along with Paul Cohen and Elisabeth Mason of London’s 4-5 Gray’s Inn Square.
“The arbitrator (Stampa) complied with his mandate scrupulously and legally, ruling on a contractual dispute between the parties,” Bernardo Cremades Jr was reported as saying.
The descendants had filed the case in Spain as the 1878 agreement was signed in the country. It was initially heard in Madrid until the Madrid High Court (Tribunal Superior de Justica de Madrid) annulled Stampa’s appointment, citing that Malaysia was not properly informed about the case and was thus “defenceless”.
The case was later moved to the French capital.
According to the arbitration news website Global Arbitration Review, Malaysia did not send a team in the Paris arbitration hearing.
Following Stampa’s annulment, Malaysia is now challenging his validity to hear the case in criminal court. – March 1, 2022.