MALAYSIA does not recognise and will not entertain any frivolous claims made by any party including the purported heirs of Sulu sultan on Sabah, Foreign Minister Dr Zambry Abd Kadir said.
He said the United Nations and the international community recognised Sabah as part of Malaysia since the formation of the Federation on September 16, 1963.
“In fact, this colloquium is highly timely since we just celebrated the 60th Malaysia Day over a week ago,” he said in his closing remarks at the London International Arbitration Colloquium 2023: State Sovereignty and Immunity in Commercial Arbitration at the International Dispute Resolution Centre, in London yesterday.
Zambry said despite the landmark rulings by the French and Dutch courts earlier this year against the purported heirs of Sulu sultan that were in Malaysia’s favour, the country is still facing unprecedented legal battles across multiple jurisdictions in its efforts to overturn the recognition and enforcement of the arbitral awards.
“While these legal actions have come at the expense of valuable resources – funds that could have been allocated to support socio-economic development in Malaysia – I wish to reiterate here, Malaysia will not compromise in the efforts to protect its sovereignty and territorial integrity,” he said.
Zambry further said what is even more upsetting from the sham award is the fact that Malaysia’s fate and fortunes are still being decided by individuals – or a sole individual, in this case – with no connection to the region.
“Why must the survival and fate of Malaysia lie in the hands of a rogue arbitrator in Europe? Unjust does not even come close to defining this new form of colonialism.If anything, it shows that from the very beginning, the arbitration process is erroneous. Or in terms that are more familiar with the crowd today, mala fide,” he added.
“As it stands, there is a larger concern that if existing shortcomings and loopholes in the international arbitration process are not urgently addressed, other countries may face a similar fate as Malaysia.
“The mere fact that a non-state entity can pursue the concurrent enforcement of fraudulent awards without the consent of relevant parties – or in other words, ‘forum-shopping’ – should be a wake-up call to all of us today.
“How can we, in all conscience, let arbitration be enshrouded by allegations of abuses of process and erroneous actions?” asked Zambry.
He said a time where common norms, values and practices are increasingly at stake, all parties do not have the privilege to stand idle in the face of blatant misuse of arbitration processes that are happening in front of their eyes.
“Without a doubt, there are sinister entities that intend to undermine the integrity and legitimacy of the system for their own personal benefits.
“This will threaten the very fundamental principles of justice and impartiality of a legal system that many of us believe in. With that in mind, it is time that we reform the third-party litigation ecosystem to ensure a fair balance between access to justice and transparency in litigation actions,” he said.
Zambry said Malaysia acknowledges the importance of arbitration as part of alternative dispute resolution, the role of international arbitration institutions and their processes in resolving complex issues.
“As much as the Sulu claims have shocked Malaysia, and I believe, the world, too, they have also highlighted the time is now ripe for an overhaul of the system,” he added. – Bernama, September 26, 2023.