KUALA LUMPUR, July 21 — A debate on the Sulu Group’s claims on Sabah at the Dewan Rakyat may jeopardise Malaysia’s interest in the litigation proceedings of the case.
In fact, Speaker Tan Sri Azhar Azizan Harun said the debate may also reveal the government’s strategies in handling the case, hence giving an advantage to the other party involved.
“Do we really want to debate it? Because who knows who will say what, what strategies will be revealed and what criticisms will be hurled at the government…which the other party can read (in the media).”
“Won’t that jeopardise our national interest in the litigation proceedings? Do we really want to reveal our strategies to the world?”
The Speaker said this in reply to Mohamed Hanipa Maidin (PH-Sepang) who questioned Azhar’s decision to reject the motion to debate the issue of the Sulu Group’s claims in Parliament on the grounds of sub judice last Monday.
Azhar said that based on Standing Order 36.2, reference shall not be made to any matter which is sub judice in such a way as might in the opinion of the Chair prejudice the interests of parties thereto.
As such, Azhar said it was his responsibility to disallow the debate from taking place.
“The first rule of litigation is the element of surprise, so as the first rule of war. We are trying the protect our country’s sovereignty…why would we reveal our strategies?” he said.
Earlier, in reply to Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s request for the Foreign Ministry to give all Members of Parliament a detailed explanation on the issue, Azhar said the matter was sub judice.
“It is clear that the matter (Sulu Group’s claims) is the core issue in the litigation proceedings in Spain and Paris, hence subject to rebuttal and argument submissions. So, in my opinion, the matter is sub judice,” he said.
Last March, a French arbitration court ruled that Malaysia must pay at least US$14.92 billion claimed by the Sulu Group over the lease of land in Sabah.
However, the Malaysian government did not recognise the claims and proceedings by the arbitration court as the decision made by the arbitrator, Dr Gonzalo Stampa, was null and void after his appointment was revoked in 2021.
On July 12, the Paris Court of Appeal allowed the Malaysian Government’s application to stay the enforcement of the Final Award issued by the arbitration court on the ground that it would affect the immunity of Malaysia’s sovereignty.
On the same day, it was reported that the assets of two Petronas subsidiaries in Azerbaijan have been seized by the Sulu Group.
The move was said to be part of legal efforts launched in 2017 by the Sulu Group to receive compensation over land in Sabah which they claimed their ancestor had leased to a British trading company in 1878.