PM Ismail Sabri Yaakob gives his assurance that the government will protect the country’s assets using every available means. – The Malaysian Insight file pic, July 19, 2022.

PRIME Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob today assured that the government will protect the country’s assets using every available means.

“They (Sulu sultanate) brought the case to court, so we will also protect our assets through legal channels.

“I assure you we will not compromise or even budge an inch in defending the country’s rights and sovereignty,” he told reporters after opening the 2022 National Security Conference in Putrajaya today.

On July 12, assets of two Petronas subsidiaries in Azerbaijan were reported to have been seized by the Sulu sultanate, who are claiming US$14.92 billion (RM62.6 billion) from Malaysia.

The move was said to be part of legal efforts launched in 2017 by the heirs to receive compensation over land in Sabah, which they claimed their ancestor had leased to a British trading company in 1878.

Ismail said he was made to understand that Petronas and Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Parliament and Law) Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar would give an explanation to Parliament soon on the seizure of Petronas assets in Azerbaijan.




He said the cabinet had, last Thursday, agreed to set up a special task force to study, monitor and formulate an appropriate action plan based on the provision of the law to address the issue of Sulu sultanate claims on Malaysia.

“A special task force has been set up to look into the issue in a comprehensive manner, not only concerning Petronas assets but also Malaysia’s other assets abroad. There are many government-linked companies that have assets overseas and this will be looked into thoroughly,” he said.

When asked about the need to mobilise security forces to defend the country’s assets overseas, Ismail said: “It’s not easy to bring security forces to other countries, unless under the United Nations flag.”

Last March, a French court ruled that Malaysia, which inherited the lease obligations after it gained independence from Britain, must pay at least US$14.92 billion to the descendants of the last Sulu sultan.

However, Wan Junaidi said Putrajaya did not recognise the claims and proceedings by the Arbitration Court in Paris as the decision made by the arbitrator, Dr Gonzalo Stampa, was null and void after his appointment was revoked last year.

Last Tuesday, 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.

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