Wan Junaidi: Sulu heirs’ bid to seize assets is ‘another opportunistic act’, M’sia to defend sovereignty at all costs

Wan Junaidi speaks during a press conference.

KUCHING, Sept 30: The latest attempt to seize Malaysia’s alleged sovereign assets in the Netherlands by the purported heirs to the long-defunct Sulu Sultanate is nothing more than yet another “opportunistic” act.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Parliament and Law) Dato Sri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said that the perpetrated act was in breach and contravened the international arbitration rules and norms under the New York Convention and the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL).

He was referring to various news reports that the alleged Sulu Sultanate heirs have now sought recognition and enforcement of a questionable Final Award (the ‘impugned award’) in the Dutch Courts against Malaysia’s assets in the Netherlands, where various Malaysian companies, including Petronas-linked assets, were mentioned.

“I must stress here that Petronas’ assets are not assets belonging to the government of Malaysia, and it would be an abuse of the process of any court to seek enforcement against such assets.

“Malaysia’s main position is that the impugned award rendered in Paris in February 2022 was obtained irregularly and in circumstances of illegality.

“Additionally, no award should be enforced when doing so, its unjust action will cause severe repercussions to the stability of another country,” he said in a statement today.

Wan Junaidi pointed out that 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.

In response to this, Wan Junaidi emphasised that Malaysia has taken court proceedings in France and Spain to set aside and render the orders null, once and for all, the impugned award.

“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 added.

In the meantime, he said Malaysia has instituted legal proceedings in Luxembourg and will take similar steps in the Netherlands to resist and set aside any attempt by the purported Sulu heirs to enforce or obtain a benefit from the impugned award.

The Minister also reiterated that “Malaysia respects and is a proud signatory to the New York Convention. However, Malaysia will not tolerate or capitulate to those who cynically seek to manipulate and abuse the system for personal gain or profit”.

To that end, Wan Junaidi stressed that Malaysia would spare no expense in defending its sovereignty and its assets abroad, wherever it may be situated. — DayakDaily