PKR Sarawak vice-chairman and Batu Lintang assemblyman See Chee How wants the state assembly sitting to discuss the state’s oil and gas rights.
See said the special assembly sitting would make clear Sarawak’s collective stance with regard to three controversial laws – the Territorial Sea Act 2012, the Petroleum Development Act 1974, and the Tripartite Agreement signed between the federal government, state government and Petronas – that the chief minister had dismissed as “irrelevant”.
See said Chief Minister Abang Johari Openg’s many statements on the invalidity of the TSA, PDA and the agreement since the March 6 launching of Petroleum Sarawak Berhad (Petros) “make it sounds so simplistic”.
At the launch of Petros, the chief minister said the state had regained all the rights to its resources and that any person and company wishing to do business in the state’s oil and gas industry must have the necessary licences, permits, leases and approvals required under either the state’s Oil Mining Ordinance or the Gas Distribution Ordinance.
In a media conference two days later, Abang Johari said the TSA and PDA were “irrelevant” as they had violated Sarawak’s rights to its natural and hydrocarbon resources under the federal constitution. “any law that is ultra vires (beyond the powers) of the constitution under Article 4 of the federal constitution is void,” he said.
The chief minister had also asserted the state’s rights to its oil and gas were never surrendered upon the formation of Malaysia in 1963 and therefore the issuance of permits and licences for mines, mining leases and certificates in relation to the prospecting, mining and development of our petroleum resources were still intact.
The issuance of permits and licences were drawn up during the rule of the White Rajah and were later incorporated under Item 2(c) of the state list under the ninth schedule of the federal constitution.
“The chief minister had evoked a lively debate with his unequivocal announcement that Sarawak will assume full regulatory authority over its oil and gas upstream and downstream industry by July, at the launching of Petroleum Sarawak Berhad (Petros) on March 6.
“Elected representatives, aspirants vying for offices in the coming general election, academicians and political analysts have raised some legal but mostly political arguments in the tussle which by far have been entertaining and enlightening,” said See.
But he said it is the duty of the state leaders to protect the interests of Sarawak’s prized resources true to the spirit of “Sarawak First” and “Sarawakians First”.
“The special sitting of the Sarawak legislative assembly will provide a platform for the differing legal and political opinions, propositions and solutions to be deliberated, considered and adopted in order that Sarawak may speak and present itself with one unified voice.”
He said it would not be similar to the legislature’s motion on the request for 20% petroleum royalty, which was unanimously passed on May 7, 2014.
See said the chief minister is doing right to take a step further to pursue and assert the state’s autonomous rights over the valuable resources of oil and gas lying within the territorial boundary of Sarawak.
“I’m all for getting these things back but they should not be decided by himself or his cabinet.
“They must be brought to the assembly for a consensus.”
See also said the silence of Prime Minister Najib Razak and federal leaders “to Sarawak’s quest which is moving the earth under Sarawakians’ feet” was disconcerting.
“They are calm and relaxed, as if giving a nonchalant shrug, dismissing the expedition of the charging knights as a futile exercise.
“I am uneasy, and expecting the worst to come after the general election, as I think the stance of the federal government can be deciphered from the response of Petronas,” he said.
In a short statement to welcome and congratulate the setting up of Petros, Petronas said it was committed to supporting the state’s aspirations to actively participate in the state’s oil and gas industry “in line with the current framework of the Petroleum Development Act, 1974”.
“Despite what the chief minister and all other Sarawakians have said, Petronas is cool, referring us to look at the framework of the Petroleum Development Act, 1974.” – March 27, 2018.