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National Security 101: Sulu Dubious Claim – Countering Wrong & Fake Information

Sulu Lahad Datu Intrusion Military National Security

Sulu heirs basically shot themselves in the leg for any legal claims when 235 Sulu militants decided to invade Lahad Datu in 2013 which saw 68 of these terrorists killed and 10 of the brave Malaysian security forces losing their life. Imagine the gall of these terrorists now wanting to claim billions of money from the Malaysian Government after all the murders they have committed. Image source: Lelarentaka

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Mysterious Claimants

The Sulu claimants were formally named and yet there is something that seems to be out of touch in this multi-million legal proceedings:-

Eight “mysterious” individuals who claim to be linked to a Sulu sultan who died in 1936 are seeking to profit from Malaysia, by attempting to hold the country to “ransom” in order to grab US$14.9 billion (almost 16 per cent of Malaysia’s annual government budget), the Malaysian government has said.

In February 2022, the eight Sulu claimants obtained an arbitration award which ordered Malaysia to pay them US$14.92 billion as compensation over the natural resources in Sabah. But Malaysia says the entire arbitration and the US$14.92 billion award is invalid.

The eight individuals are Nurhima Kiram Fornan, Fuad A. Kiram, Sheramar T. Kiram, Permaisuli Kiram-Guerzon, Taj-Mahal Kiram-Tarsum Nuqui, Ahmad Nazard Kiram Sampang, Jenny K.A. Sampang, Widz-Raunda Kiram Sampang.

Based on local financial publication The Edge’s report last year, the eight are in their 50s to 70s, with three of them retirees, three unemployed, one school administrator and one businessman.

Apart from being citizens of the Philippines, the eight individuals claim to be the descendants of the so-called Sultan of Sulu, Jamalul Kiram II. Sultan Jamalul Kiram II was said to be the last legally-recognised sultan of the now-defunct Sulu sultanate and had died in 1936 without any heirs.

(Source: Malay Mail)

“…the eight are in their 50s to 70s, with three of them retirees, three unemployed, one school administrator and one businessman…”

Considering the claimants are in their 50s to 70s and hardly have any financial means to bring any litigation especially expensive ones in Europe, the whole affair of litigation against Malaysia & the quantum is dubious and seems to be done with an ulterior motive. One has to question who is making the moves in the background.

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Malaysian security forces died in this unwanted conflict brought by greedy, ambitious Sulu Sultanate heirs and rightfully they were met with an overwhelming response from the armed forces of Malaysia. The only screw-up was allowing the police to deal with the conflict first, giving time for these terrorists to entrench themselves. We should have allowed the army special forces to sweep in from the very start and kill all of these terrorists on sight as a lesson to others.


Sulu Timeline

Considering that it is a high-profile case, especially in Malaysia, the Malaysian government has created a dedicated website to disseminate the correct facts and provide updates against the Sulu claims. One of the key items on the website is this timeline that shows how the annual payment started back in 1878 until the latest update as of April 2023.

  • 1936 – The last supposed Sultan of Sulu, Kiram II, dies without any heirs. The British North Borneo Company stopped payment under the 1878 agreement.
  • 1939 – A case is heard in the High Court of the State of North Borneo to determine the rightful heirs of Sultan Kiram II. The subsequent Macaskie Judgment names nine heirs and payments under the 1878 agreement resume.
  • 1963 – The Federation of Malaysia is founded, and inherits the 1878 agreement.
  • 2013 – A violent armed invasion of Sabah, launched from the Sulu Archipelago, under the orders of the self-proclaimed Sultan Jamalul Kiram III, sees 78 people killed. The Government of Malaysia takes decisive and logical action in response to a threat to its security and ends the payments under the 1878 agreement.
  • 2017 – UK: The claimants – self-proclaimed ‘heirs’ to the Sultan of Sulu -, through their legal counsel, approach the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) about a supposed breach of the 1878 Agreement. The FCO dismisses the approach.
  • 2020 – Malaysia: The Sabah High Court renders judgment in favour of the Government, declaring that the 1878 agreement does not contain any arbitration clause and the arbitrator has no jurisdiction to resolve the matter. The court orders Dr. Stampa and the claimants to stop arbitration proceedings, granting an injunction against them
  • 2021 – Spain: The Superior Court of Justice of Madrid finds that the claimants did not serve the Government of Malaysia with proper notice for the claim in accordance with international law, instructing Dr. Stampa to close the proceedings. Dr. Stampa ignores the ruling.
  • 2021 – Spain: The High Court of Madrid decided that the Preliminary Award on Jurisdiction made by Dr. Stampa on 25 May 2020 is null and void following the High Court of Justice Madrid decision on 29 June 2021.
  • 2021 – France: The Tribunal de Grande Instance recognized the Preliminary Award on jurisdiction granted by Dr. Stampa dated 25 May 2020 through an Exequatur Order.
  • 2021 – France: The Paris Court of Appeal grants a Stay Order against the Exequatur Order which recognizes the Preliminary Award.
  • 2022 – France: The Final Award, a $14.9 billion arbitration Award, is published by Dr. Stampa against Malaysia. It is a defiance of court orders in Spain and a Malaysian High Court. Malaysia completely rejects the Award and does not recognize its legitimacy.
  • 2023 – Luxembourg: Decision on the Interim Relief proceedings. Court decides in Malaysia’s favour and lifts the bank attachments with immediate effect.
  • 2023 – France: The claimant’s appeal is rejected and the Stay Order on the enforcement of Final Award remains in place.
  • 2023 – Spain: Constitutional Court rejects an appeal from the claimants.
  • 2023 – Malaysia: Following an investigation, the Ministry of Home Affairs issues an Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing, and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Order against Fuad A. Kiram, one of the Sulu claimants. The Order cites Mr. Kiram’s participation in and commission of a terrorist act, evidenced by his connection to the Royal Sulu Forces (‘RSF’).

(Timeline Source: Malaysian Govt)

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It is clear that considering their weak financial standings, the Sulu heirs are just pawns in this game between the claimant financiers who are looking out for a substantial profit through the litigation and a sovereign state who is facing open threats to its assets overseas. 


Sulu Source of Funding

Obviously whoever is funding these Sulu heirs in the case against Malaysia will tend to gain the most from the billions that they may get in if they win the case.

The claimants are bankrolled by a global litigation fund, Therium. This means that the eight individuals are financed by the deep pockets of a global business that operates to profit on the success of a case they’ve invested in.

This includes paying for the lawyers acting on the case for the Sulu claimants in Manila and London. It is unclear as to whether Therium, or the claimant’s legal advisors, have undertaken due diligence into the true identity of Sulu claimants and their connections to the so-called Sulu Sultanate.

It has been reported that Therium has already sunk over $10mn into the claim, and will be hoping to extract from the Government of Malaysia millions of dollars. Malaysia does not know whether Therium is providing financial support directly to the claimants.

(Source: Malaysian Govt)

Pretty sure that these Sulu heirs do not have USD10 million at hand to spend on some lavish litigation and thus would have signed a watertight agreement with Therium who will front the expenses & then get reimbursed from the claims won in the court with some hefty profit margin. The Sulu heirs may get some petty cash or not even get any money from the ongoing litigations.

With the purported USD10 million already spent on the litigations and more millions to be spent in the coming years, it is a matter of sustainability between a well-oiled litigation firm trying to gain from its “investments” todate and a “pressed for cash” to a sovereign state.

Final Say

Even if the courts agree that Sulu heirs are not linked with the Sulu intrusions in Lahad Datu in 2013 and are thus still entitled to the yearly token of RM5,300, the final claim of almost USD15 billion is insane & unjustifiable. How did a mere RM5,300 per year ended up in a claim of billions?

This yearly payment was stopped in 2013 when Sulu terrorists launched the war against the country and even with an annual interest of 10%, it translates to a maximum of only RM125,000 and if one adds legal & other charges which have definably been jacked up, it is still far from the billions range.

There is supposedly an immense amount of wrangling behind the scenes at the US$14.92 billion (RM66.39 billion) claim and ongoing dispute between the eight heirs of the late Sultan of Sulu — Sultan Jamalul Kiram II — and the Malaysian government.

For starters, the eight heirs, who are supposedly “regular folk” without lavish lifestyles, have been able to take on the Malaysian government, hiring top-notch lawyers with several millions in funding from Therium Capital Management Ltd.

A logical conclusion then would be that Therium had done the requisite research, come to the conclusion that the Sultan of Sulu’s eight heirs have a strong case against Malaysia and decided to fund them, which should see the fund making gains from their claims.

Paul Cohen, co-lead counsel for the Sulu Sultan’s heirs, says, “The honourable minister’s statement confuses two items. The global arbitration award from Paris allows us to collect US$15 billion dollars from a range of 170 countries. By contrast, the judgment that he is pleased with delays collection in one country (France itself), and temporarily narrows our field to only 169 nations.”

The 170 countries Cohen is referring to are the members of New York Arbitration Convention, of which Malaysia is a signatory.

(Source: The Edge)

It is clear that Therium who claimed that they have dumped USD10 million in legal fees will want to claim what they have spent todate with a huge profit as well.

This is why Malaysia cannot afford to lose these unjustified legal cases against these Sulu heirs as Malaysia will not only lose a huge sum of money but it will also affect foreign investors as national assets overseas will always be under threat of confiscation & sale. A win by one Sulu heir will open the floodgate for other claims by other Sulu heirs and this will not end.

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