COMMENT | Explaining the Sulu claim
This article by former attorney-general Tommy Thomas confirms that many
problems are solvable if examined by an intelligent mind.
takes a skilled lawyer, in fact, any professional in any field, to
understand, solve and explain a seemingly complicated issue to the rest
of us. Each part - first to understand, then to solve and finally to
explain - takes skill. I have met many a capable person who fails
utterly to explain properly.
A good lawyer, by its very definition, explains well or he fails in
court. Thomas confirms why he is one of this country's top lawyers. So,
one wonders why the clampdown on debating the issue in Parliament. The
inevitable conclusion is that the ministers in charge were not capable,
or could not be bothered, to learn and explain. Perhaps this is not
At every stage and place in our lives, it is embedded
deep in our culture to never question. Child to parent, student to
teacher, congregation to priest/iman, we should not question our
"betters". Careful thought is needed to explain well. This
process enriches both sides. That is how we innovate and deal with
"There is an underlying but unmistakable imperialist arrogance in the
actions of (Spanish arbitrator Gonzalo) Stampa as well as the French
and Spanish courts in purporting to exercise jurisdiction over the
Government of Malaysia," said Thomas. I agree. I hope the
government will pursue all means available to bring the unprincipled
people to book. And to teach the Western world that we should not be
bullied so easily.
See, all it takes is a logically coherent explanation on the matter to bring Malaysians strongly behind the country. Instead,
the various politicians prefer to use this as another reason to fling
mud at each other, whilst leaving the rest of us clueless and
MS: With this amazingly lucid
explanation by Thomas of what happened, how it happened and what remains
to be done, two facts have become abundantly clear.
1. Thomas is one of the best legal minds to have occupied the chair of attorney-general.
2. Former prime minister Najib Abdul Razak, the convicted felon, and his coterie of ill-educated advisors in 2013 are solely responsible for what was their petulant and puerile reaction to the Lahad Datu debacle.
they been more circumspect and had relied on proper legal advice, they
could have avoided damaging the country in the manner they did.
As if the crooked 1MDB outing was not enough to damage the country's reputation.
Thanks to Thomas for comprehensively stating the history and legal
aspects of the Sulu issue, though I have reservations about some of his
advice. What has struck me is the absurdity of the entire episode.
should a sovereign state be held at ransom to pay an astronomical sum
over an agreement between a sultan and a company signed one and a half
centuries ago when both the sultanate and the company already ceased to
exist a long time ago?
In the first place, there is no proper
legal status for the self-professed descendants of Sulu sultan to make
such a claim; neither is Malaysia the legal entity answerable to the
claim, as it is not even remotely connected to the British North Borneo
Company which was the party to the agreement.
Now that a dubious
Spanish arbitrator has issued an absurd award in a French court under
highly questionable circumstances, the Malaysian government will have to
adopt a smart strategy to squash this preposterous stunt. In doing so, I
hope the fundamental truism I mentioned above will be taken into