KOTA KINABALU, July 28 — The Sabah government wants to be included in the federal government’s plans to counter the claims of the “descendants” of the Sulu sultanate for the North Bornean state.

Sabah Senior Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun said that although he was assured by the prime minister’s statement that legal action would be taken, it was only right that the state be involved in any discussions on the matter moving forward.

“I think what’s important is that Sabahans, or at least the state government, need to be included by the federal government in any issue for the purpose of preparing for a fight in an international forum,” said Masidi during a press conference to announce the state level National Day plans.

“I am not saying that the federal attorney general (AG) or government is not clever or smart — I am sure they have all the facts — but it would be better if the state, or state AG is within the team. I think we know it better,” he said.

The state local government and housing minister said that Sabah has made requests to be included in talks on the issue.

Earlier, he said that as far as he was concerned, there were no tangible assets seized by the claimants and that it has yet to be established whether such seizures are enforceable in other countries.

The saga began in February when a French arbitration court awarded the purported Sulu heirs US$14.9 billion or some RM64 billion for the alleged breach of a lease in 1878.

The arbitration, initiated by the purported heirs and “successors” of Sultan Jamalul Kiram II in 2017, was due to the stoppage of an annual stipend of RM5,300 in 2013 after the sultanate invaded Lahad Datu in Sabah.

While Malaysia had refused to acknowledge the ruling and challenged its legality, it was reported that two Petronas Luxembourg-registered subsidiaries, valued at about RM8.87 billion, were seized pursuant to the arbitration.

On July 12, the Paris Court of Appeal allowed the Malaysian government’s application to stay the enforcement of the final award on claims by the Sulu parties, but it is arguable whether the stay can be enforced outside of France.