COMMENT | There are just three main villains in the Sulu sultanate claim of parts of Sabah and an outlandish, highly dubious nearly US$15 billion award made against Malaysia, resulting in a seizure notice for the assets of national oil corporation Petronas in Luxembourg.
Topping the list is the one who stopped the payments under an 1878 agreement of a mere RM5,300 a year to the Sulu sultanate in 2013. Malaysia, under the then prime minister Najib Abdul Razak, who ultimately bears responsibility for this, decided to stop payment following a Sulu incursion into Sabah in 2013 which resulted in several police deaths.
The other two villains are the British lawyer Paul Cohen, counsel for the Sulu claimants who brought the opportunistic, ludicrous claim to the Spanish court and then the French court, and the Spanish arbitrator Gonzalo Stampa, the sole arbitrator who made the ridiculous award without so much as referring to Malaysia.
Stopping the payments was a politically motivated move by Najib to show he was tough against the Sulu incursion, but never fully explained in public - he still has not. Najib should or must have been advised by the then attorney-general Abdul Gani Patail as to the legal consequences of stopping payments. Still, it seems to have completely escaped his attention that there was a clear legal obligation with the precedent of payment for 50 years by Malaysia!
Najib is now trying to push the blame on former AG Tommy Thomas who merely tried to settle the mistake of not paying the required amount in 2019 by offering to pay the claimants the outstanding amount plus interest, the normal terms for breach of agreement. The total offered amounted to a mere RM48,230.
Thomas, in a...