Petronas’ suit a desperate act to hang on to Sarawak oil rights, says activist

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PETRONAS’ legal action seeking the Federal Court’s declaration on the Petroleum Development Act 1974 (PDA) shows how desperate it is to hang on to the state’s oil and gas resources, one of Sarawak’s more vocal political and rights activists Lina Soo said.

“They must have known that they don’t have control over our oil and gas, so they try to get the Federal Court to shut us up,” Soo, who is also the president of the State Reform Party Sarawak (Star) political party said in reaction to the national oil company asking the apex court to declare that it is the exclusive owner of petroleum resources in Malaysia, including Sarawak, and that it is the regulator for the upstream industry throughout the country.

Soo said Petronas’ legal action reflected Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s long-standing position (when he was prime minister from 1981 to 2003) not to accede to Sarawak and Sabah’s demand for a greater share of its oil and gas resources.

“They just want to avoid paying the 20% oil royalty (Pakatan Harapan promised in its election manifesto) and they will try every means not to pay.”

Soo said Sarawakians should not be surprised if the new PH government would use the RM1 trillion debt as an excuse not to increase the royalty.

The two Borneo territories currently are only getting 5%.

In March, Sarawak Chief Minister Abang Johari Openg said the PDA and the equally controversial law, the Territorial Sea Act 2012 (TSA), are not relevant in Sarawak.

He said since both were federal laws and for any federal law to be implemented in the state, the legislative assembly has to ratify them.

Neither the PDA nor the TSA were ever ratified by the assembly.

“Any law that is ultra vires the constitution under Article 4 of the federal constitution is void,” he said.

Sarawak has also warned all companies in the state’s oil and gas industry and companies intending to do prospecting and mining work to have the necessary licences, permits, leases and approvals required under either the Oil Mining Ordinance or the Gas Distribution Ordinance from July 1.

The state’s newly formed oil company, Petros, will from July 1 also assume full regulatory authority over the upstream and downstream aspects of the oil and gas industry in the state from Petronas.

The state government has yet to react to the Petronas action and the state government spokesman, Assistant Minister in the Chief Minister’s Office Abdullah Saidol, said the chief minister will issue a statement on this matter “soon”. – June 4, 2018.

Source: https://www.themalaysianinsight.com/s/52409

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