KOTA KINABALU, July 19 — A group gathered near the Sabah legislative assembly building to peacefully protest the rejection of a motion to debate the issues surrounding claims made by the “heirs” to the Sulu sultanate.
Around 50 members of a group called Solidariti Anak Sabah gathered near the Sabah State Administrative Complex in Menara Kinabalu here at around 10am this morning and made their way on foot uphill towards the state legislative assembly building about a kilometre away.
The protest was peaceful and orderly in nature, but the group was still prevented from venturing further by police who had set up a security checkpoint halfway up the hill.
The group waited for a representative from the state legislative office to receive their memorandum for the state assembly Speaker, but as of 12.30pm, no one emerged to meet them.
They were eventually allowed to continue walking uphill towards the legislative assembly building but with the agreement to wait by the parking lot outside the building’s gates.
Yesterday, the Sabah legislative assembly rejected a motion by Opposition leader Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal to debate the controversial matter.
Speaker Datuk Kadzim M. Yahya said the motion was rejected based on Rule 23(2) which requires motions to be submitted within 24 hours of the start of the session.
He noted that as the motion was submitted at 11.25am, which does not meet the 24-hour requirement, it was rejected according to Rule 23(2).
Shafie then requested for the motion to be debated on any of the four-day assembly sessions, as it involved the issue of Sabah’s sovereignty.
Kadzim, however, advised Shafie to raise the matter in Parliament, saying that as it involves the federal government, the issue should be handled at the federal level.
Meanwhile, the Dewan Rakyat sitting yesterday also saw Speaker Tan Sri Azhar Azizan Harun rejecting the motion submitted by Kota Belud MP Isnaraissah Munirah on the Sulu claim.
Following a shouting match, she was eventually asked to leave the Assembly and barred from participation for two days.
The decades-long controversial issue has taken a big tide when it was reported that two Petronas Luxembourg-registered subsidiaries, Petronas Azerbaijan (Shah Deniz) and Petronas South Caucasus, were seized on Monday following a Paris arbitration court ruling in March that Malaysia was obliged to pay the Sulu “descendants” at least RM62.59 billion.
The seizure of the holding companies, reportedly valued at about RM8.87 billion, was part of legal efforts by the purported heirs, who have been seeking compensation for land in Sabah, which they claimed their ancestor had leased to a British trading company in 1878.
The arbitration was initiated by the purported heirs and “successors” of Sultan Jamalul Kiram II against the Malaysian government through international arbitration proceedings in Madrid, Spain.
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 parties claiming to be heirs and successors-in-interest to Sultan Jamalul Kiram II.