KUALA LUMPUR, July 21 — Several MPs have started arriving at a hotel in the capital tonight for the government’s closed-door session to brief them on the claims made by the self-styled Sulu Sultanate.
Media personnel camped outside the hotel were told by a spokesman that the session has been put under the Official Secrets Act 1972 (OSA) to ensure its confidentiality.
Economic affairs minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed arrives at the Seri Pacific Hotel KL for the closed-door Sulu claim briefing July 21, 2022. — Picture by Hari Anggara
Ministers started to arrive at 8.10pm, including Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Abdullah and Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Economy) Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohammed.
Federal lawmakers seen at the ballroom entrance included Sepanggar MP Datuk Mohd Azis Jamman, Petaling MP Maria Chin Abdullah, Jerlun MP Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir, Kulai MP Teo Nie Ching, and Kota Belud MP Isnaraissah Munirah Majili.
Teo, whose disclosure of the invitation to the event this morning led to it becoming public knowledge, stood by her decision.
She said that while the contents of the briefing were classified, its existence and the invitation to attend were not state secrets.
Teo also said Minister in Prime Minister’s Department (Parliament and Law) Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar conceded as much during the briefing.
When asked if she was satisfied with the briefing, Teo said the matter was too complicated for a binary answer.
“A lot of things happened in between,” she said when declining the question.
Cabinet members and MPs arrive at the Seri Pacific Hotel KL for the closed-door Sulu claim briefing July 21, 2022. — Picture by Hari Anggara
The briefing started at 8.30 pm and lasted about two hours, with Cabinet members and lawmakers seen departing around 11.30pm.
Earlier, the hotel staff locked the entrance at 9pm to prevent entry or exit from the ballroom.
Attendees had also been directed to leave their electronic devices with the reception before entering the hall.
The decades-long controversy came to light again earlier this year when a European arbitration court awarded the purported Sulu heirs US$14.9 billion for the alleged breach of a lease in Sabah signed with a British trading company in 1878.
The lease agreement predated the formation of Malaysia in 1963.
The arbitration was initiated by the purported heirs and “successors” of Sultan Jamalul Kiram II in 2017, owing to the Malaysian government’s termination of cession payments in 2013 after the sultanate invaded Lahad Datu in Sabah.
While Malaysia had refused to acknowledge the ruling, it was reported that two Petronas Luxembourg-registered subsidiaries, reportedly 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.