The government will not hesitate to take any form of action to defend the country's sovereignty in its legal battle over a territorial claim related to Sabah, including suing the funder and eight Filipinos who claim to be the heirs of the Sultanate of Sulu.
The government will also ensure the parties concerned pay all costs incurred by Malaysia as a result of the claim, said Minister in the Prime Minister's Department (Law and Institutional Reform) Azalina Othman Said.
She said the government has reason to believe that the claim was financially motivated and funded by litigation funders not based in Asia.
"We are now seeing a movement that is more towards an element to make money and we know that litigation funders will take 25 to 30% of the amount (claims). And that is why I want to issue a reminder that this is a very serious attack against the country's sovereignty.
"It is not seen from an element involving arms, but an element to bankrupt Malaysia with an award amounting to US$15 billion," she told the media at the World Trade Centre in Kuala Lumpur today.
Azalina said the Malaysian government will fully oppose any movement and action seen as taking advantage and without following international legal procedures.
She said the government has identified the litigation funder, who she added is a well-known company and based out of Asia. Further action is being taken regarding the matter, she added.
On the Paris Court of Appeal's decision yesterday, Azalina said although it was a "partial award", it was still important considering that the Court of Appeal judge referred to the most important essence of why Malaysia opposed the claim.
"The Malaysian government has been very consistent in saying that the 1878 Agreement does not exist in international arbitration... The cessation of payments is a historical relationship in which payments are made as a consolation.
"The payments by Malaysia stopped due to the violence in Lahad Datu in 2013. If the violence had not happened, the payments might have continued. This shows that the facts presented by Malaysia are very consistent. The decision of the French Court confirms that the arbitration clause does not actually exist," she said.
The Paris Court of Appeal yesterday upheld Malaysia's challenge against the partial award rendered on May 25, 2020 by Dr Gonzalo Stampa in the case filed by eight citizens of the Philippines, who are purported heirs of the long-defunct Sultan of Sulu.
The group claiming to be heirs of the Sulu Sultanate was reported to have taken legal action in the Spanish Court to seek compensation for land in Sabah, which was allegedly leased by their ancestors to a British trading company in 1878.
They then took the matter to the Spanish arbitrator in 2019 and the purported arbitrator, Stampa, who was appointed by the group of individuals, decided in their (the claimants') favour.
Stampa had issued a final award of US$14.9 billion (RM62.59 billion) against Malaysia and Malaysia had used all legal remedies to annul the award given by Stampa to claimants in courts in Spain, France, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.
On March 14 this year, the Paris Court of Appeal upheld the stay order obtained by the Malaysian government in France on July 12, 2022, against the enforcement of the award.
Therefore, the suspension order obtained by Malaysia regarding the enforcement of the award is maintained.