Honour the treaty, Wisma Putra tells Sudanese govt

by FAYYADH JAAFAR / pic by TMR FILE

THE Ministry of Foreign Affairs has told the Sudanese government to honour the Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Treaty (BIPPT) in force between both countries amid the ongoing dispute between the Sudanese government and Petroliam Nasional Bhd (Petronas).

For the second time, Wisma Putra summoned Sudan’s Charge d’Affaires Omar Oushek yesterday to express its concern about the dispute.

“The ministry urges the Sudanese government to honour the BIPPT in force between Malaysia and Sudan. Additionally, as the complex also houses the Malaysian Embassy, the Sudanese side is also urged to observe the sanctity of a diplomatic premise, as provided for under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations 1961,” it said in a statement.

Wisma Putra added that the government is extremely concerned over the issue pertaining to the Petronas Sudan Complex in Khartoum.

“Since the issue surfaced in December, the ministry has been working closely with Petronas, including through our embassy in Khartoum, to resolve the matter.”

To date, Wisma Putra said it has exerted multiple diplomatic efforts to address the issue.

“We will continue to closely monitor developments on the issue in safeguarding Malaysian interests in Sudan,” it added.

The conflict began in April 2019 when former Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir was deposed in a military coup.

The transitional government that succeeded him announced that it would cancel the former regime’s oil exploration contract with the Malaysian company, claiming that it was granted illegally.

Petronas is not the only company whose assets have been seized by the new government; Fu Hong Construction, a Chinese infrastructure company, was accused of inflating project costs. Similar actions have been taken in Khartoum against Pakistani-owned Grand Holiday Villa Ltd.

The Malaysian Reserve (TMR) reported yesterday that the state oil firm has instructed lawyers to intervene and cancel arrest warrants against its former officer in Sudan. The African country issued an arrest warrant for Petronas Sudan country manager, ostensibly as part of a corruption probe into deals made by former Sudan president.

Petronas, which is separately fighting to retain its assets that have been seized by Sudan, said a legal team representing its local unit, PetroDar Operating Co, is pursuing action to cancel the warrants.

“This matter is unrelated to the ongoing legal proceedings to reclaim Petronas’ rights over the land and the Petronas Complex in Khartoum, for which Petronas has filed a request for arbitration at the International Centre for Settlement of Dispute.”

The oil company said it cannot comment further as legal proceedings have begun.

Istanbul-based Daily Sabah news outlet quoted sources that Sudan’s transitional government issued the warrant against Petronas’ country manager following growing tensions after it moved to seize Petronas’ assets.

Wisma Putra added that despite the commencement of arbitration proceedings initiated by Petronas, the ministry remains hopeful for a timely and amicable resolution of the issue, “with the view of preserving the longstanding brotherly relations between Malaysia and Sudan”.

All Malaysians residing and registered with the Malaysian Embassy are safe, the ministry said.

Petronas, in an email response shared to TMR last week, stated that the rights over the land and the Petronas Sudan Complex in Khartoum were obtained in accordance with applicable laws.