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Malaysia Ordered To Pay Up RM63 Billion To Heirs Of Sulu Sultan Over 1878 Dispute

The arbitrator gave Malaysia a period of three months to surrender the amount.

Cover image via Wikimedia Commons & VietnamPlus

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The Malaysian government has been instructed to pay at least USD14.9 billion (RM62.6 billion) to descendants of the last Sulu sultan over an alleged broken treaty

According to a report by Malaysiakini, Malaysia allegedly violated a treaty signed in 1878 between the then Sultan of Sulu, Sultan Jamal Al Alam, and Baron Overbeck as well as Alfred Dent of the British North Borneo Company.

Under the agreement, Overbeck and Dent were to pay an annual amount of RM5,300 in cession payments to the Sulu Sultanate over a large part of eastern Sabah, reported Free Malaysia Today.

When Malaysia became successor to the agreement following Sabah's independence and the formation of the Federation of Malaysia in 1963, the government continued the payments.

However, when Sulu terrorists invaded Lahad Datu in 2013, Malaysia stopped paying the annual compensation.

The yellow area shows the part of eastern Sabah involved in the dispute.

Image via Wikiwand

On Monday, 28 February, the Court of Arbitration in Paris ruled that Malaysia must pay the heirs of the Sulu Sultan for breaching of the 1878 agreement

News portal La Información reported that Spanish arbitrator Gonzalo Stampa said Malaysia breached the agreement by not handing over the annual payment since 2013, and issued the award amount for Malaysia to pay.

He also ruled the 1878 treaty as an "international private lease agreement" — instead of a cession — in an arbitration court in Paris, France.

The case was initially filed in Spain, where the treaty was signed, before it was moved to Paris after Malaysia was not informed of the lawsuit and was declared "defenceless".

Image via La Información

The arbitrator gave Malaysia a period of three months to pay up the USD14.9 billion

Malaysiakini reported that the amount was determined by the descendants of the Sulu Sultanate, who initially wanted to claim a higher amount of USD32.2 billion (RM135 billion).

The descendants believe Malaysia should pay for natural resources found in the regions they ceded since the treaty, and also for all the unpaid cession money since 2013.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said on Tuesday, 1 March, that the government will respond to the issue after having a discussion with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Attorney General Chambers, reported Sinar Harian.

In December last year, the Eastern Sabah Security Command said they received intel of Sulu militants wanting to invade eastern Sabah again:

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