KOTA KINABALU, April 4 — Former attorney general Tan Sri Tommy Thomas today said that the RM62.59 billion award by a French arbitration court to the descendants of the Sulu Sultanate against the Malaysian government should not have never been heard at all as it was an illegitimate move by “rogue” international arbitrator Gonzalo Stampa.
Explaining that his office had previously dealt with the arbitration by dismissing it in a London court, he said that it was an “extraordinary” move that it was later heard in a Madrid Court and then in the Paris court.
“The Spanish lawyers themselves agree that it is extraordinary because they told us that in Malaysia that the first condition is that there must be an arbitration agreement referring it to Spain. But there isn’t one,” he said.
“Who’s paying for all this nonsense. This is a disgrace to the profession,” he said.
“The defendants persisting to Spanish arbitration is a gross violation of the Malaysian government’s right and the courts cannot allow this abuse of process,” he said.
He accused the Sulu heirs and their Spanish arbitrator, Gonzalo Stampa, of “classic forum shopping” and of having acted unlawfully and unreasonably by seeking a judgement in Spain and then in France.
In February, a French arbitration court instructed Putrajaya to pay at least US$14.92 billion (RM62.59 billion) to the descendants of the Sulu Sultanate.
The Spanish arbitrator ruled that Malaysia had violated the 1878 agreements between the old Sulu kingdom in the Philippines and a representative of the British North Borneo Company that used to rule over the territory now known as Sabah.
Thomas also took to task the authorities who stopped paying the RM5,300 compensation payment to the Sulu heir after 2013, when self-styled Sulu militants intruded into Sabah’s east coast district of Lahad Datu which set off a deadly attack.
Commenting on a political analyst’s remark that Malaysia had the right not to continue payment after the armed assault on Malaysia, Thomas said that there was no evidence linking the perpetrators of the attack to the Sulu descendants and they, therefore, could not be held accountable.
He also said that the country should have continued the payment which has been practiced since before the country was formed in 1963 and that Malaysia had accepted liability when it continued the payment.
“As a result of the termination, look at the problems that have arisen,” he said.