A NON-ALIGNED Sarawak political party says it is closely monitoring the actions of Chief Minister Abang Johari Openg following his pledge to get Putrajaya to return all the state’s lost autonomous rights as spelt out in the constitution and the Malaysia Agreement 1963.
At the launch of state-owned petroleum company Petroleum Sarawak Bhd (Petros) on March 6, Abang Johari had said the state would “assume full regulatory authority over the upstream and downstream aspects of the oil and gas industry in Sarawak” by July.
That was understood by many in Sarawak to mean that national oil company Petronas has lost its absolute right to mine and develop oil and gas in the state.
Abang Johari had said the state retained its rights to oil and other resources even after Malaysia Day.
The chief minister in later statements had also said the two laws, the Petroleum Development Act 1974 – a law that gives Petronas all prospecting rights to mine and develop oil and gas in the country – and the Territorial Sea Act (TSA) 2012 had violated Sarawak’s rights in the federal constitution and was also legally null and void as it had also never been ratified by the state legislative assembly.
The TSA reduced the state’s sea boundary from the normal 12 miles to a mere 3 miles, an act seen by Sarawakians as a move by the federal government to seize the state’s oil and gas fields offshore.
Parti Bansa Dayak Sarawak Baru (PBDSB), whose political agenda is the advancement and protection of the Dayaks – the state’s largest communal group – said there should not be any further excuses in prolonging the recovery of those lost rights.
“We want him (Abang Johari) to hold on to the promises he had made,” party president Cobbold John said today.
PBDSB is not a member of the Barisan Nasional ruling bloc nor the opposition Pakatan Harapan.
Cobbold said if Abang Johari’s legal arguments are right, then there should not be any “obstacles in the way of Sarawak’s autonomous rights to be returned, as how it was initially stipulated legally in Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63)”.
He also suggested Sarawak lawmakers pore through in detail all the amendments that had been made and take the necessary actions if the federal government had violated the state’s rights or what were agreed in the MA63.
“As such, PBDSB shall continue to monitor and voice out where necessary on Sarawakians’ rights, especially when promises for such rights was made by the chief minister openly.
“PBDSB shall hold on to the promises which was made not only by the Sarawak chief minister but the entire Sarawak state cabinet and assemblymen to ensure that Sarawak has its rights returned as promised.” – March 22, 2018.