Inside job: Govt pursues masterminds of Sulu claims

KUALA LUMPUR: Minister in the Prime Minister's Department (Law and Institutional) Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said has affirmed Malaysia's pursuit of identifying local individuals involved in supporting the Sulu claims.

"We know that there are masterminds and traitors among Malaysians who had supported and assisted in the claims made by the self-claimed heirs of the defunct Sulu Sultanate. I cannot reveal our strategy but we are in the process of identifying these masterminds and traitors," she said.

She said this in response to a supplementary question by Datuk Matbali Musah (GRS-Sipitan) who enquired about the government's plan to ensure that similar incidents of Sulu claims would not occur in the future.

Meanwhile, Azalina added that the case of Sulu claims must also be finalised and that the government must defend the sovereignty of the country.

She said this in response to Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal (Warisan-Semporna) who stressed that the government must have a concrete resolution to end the issue.

Shafie also said the matter should be brought to the International Court of Justice (ICJ), such as when the dispute over Ligitan and Sipadan Islands was brought to the international court in 2002, which concluded both islands belonged to Malaysia.

"I agree that there should be an end to this matter as the claims won't stop. They (the claimants) must have a funder, hence, this is why they have financial capabilities which they will then sue us. However, we have defended and we need to wait for the right to appeal (for the case of the Sulu claims).

"This is also why we need to ensure that whatever strategies laid out must be carried out properly and the government wants to ensure that those who have wronged the government must be prosecuted, sued and pay all the costs borne by the government."

In January, Spanish arbitrator Dr Gonzalo Stampa, who controversially ordered Malaysia to pay US$14.92 billion (RM70.19b) to self-claimed heirs of the defunct Sulu Sultanate, was found guilty of contempt of court.

On Nov 6 last year, the French Court annulled the order of the rising of statue to be mortgaged against a Malaysian Diplomatic building in Paris by a self-claimed Sulu group from the Philippines.

Meanwhile, on Nov 10, last year, Azalina reportedly said the Madrid Court had carried out their own investigations and filed charges against Stampa and if found guilty, he faces a jail sentence and fine.

Previously, eight citizens of the Philippines, who claimed to be heirs of the defunct Sulu sultanate, had filed for arbitration proceedings in Spain to seek billions of US dollars from Malaysia over Sabah and a court in Madrid, Spain had in March 2019 appointed Gonzalo Stampa to be the arbitrator for the Sulu claimants' case.

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