Mar 8, 2023
Malaysia Plans to Take Sulu Heirs to Court Over Seizure Claims
(Bloomberg) -- Malaysia intends to bring the self-styled descendants of the sultanate of Sulu before a court, after a territorial dispute between the two parties led to bailiffs appearing at the Southeast Asian nation’s embassy and staff residence in Paris on Monday.
The bailiffs tried to obtain a description of the properties and were turned away, according to Malaysia’s Special Sulu Secretariat. The bailiffs appeared to have acted on instruction from the Sulu claimants, on the basis of a statutory mortgage registered on the premises following a Paris court order, said the secretariat.
“Moving forward, it is Malaysia’s intention to summon the Sulu claimants to appear before the court which granted the authorization order to obtain the cancellation of the registration of the mortgage,” the secretariat said in a statement Wednesday. “The statutory mortgage is not an enforcement measure per se.”
Malaysia was responding to a Reuters report Tuesday that French bailiffs tried to enforce a court-issued seizure order on three of the Malaysian government’s properties in Paris. There was no attempt to seize the properties and the premises of any diplomatic mission shall be inviolable and immune under the Vienna convention, Malaysia said in the statement.
The incident was linked to the Sulu heirs’ years-long claims to the Borneo state of Sabah. A French judge in December granted their request to seize the properties to settle a debt of 2.3 million euros ($2.46 million) they said were owed to them, according to Reuters.
This was after a French Arbitration Court in Paris last year ordered the Malaysia government to pay 62.59 billion ringgit ($14.9 billion) to the Sulu descendants over their territorial claim. The Malaysian government filed an application to cancel the award in Paris, while a district court in Luxembourg set aside the legal action payment, Malaysia said in January.
“Malaysia maintains that it does not recognize the purported commercial arbitration instituted by the Sulu Claimants and will continue to vigorously defend its sovereignty through the appropriate legal forums,” said Malaysia’s secretariat.
READ: Malaysia Says It Hasn’t Got Formal Notice on Sulu Seizure Claims
The Sulu heirs also laid claim to state-owned oil company Petroliam Nasional Bhd.’s units in Luxembourg as part of their efforts to enforce the arbitration award. Petronas in February confirmed the seizure orders and said it would defend its legal position.
The Sulu Sultanate leased Sabah state to a British company in 1878 and the Borneo state was later absorbed into Malaysia. They ruled the islands in the Sulu Archipegalago, which are parts of Mindanao in today’s Philippines.
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