PETALING JAYA: The Sabah government will be participating as an observer in the legal proceeding between Petroliam Nasional Bhd (Petronas) and the Sarawak government, which will be held on June 21.
In a letter dated June 11, the Federal Court granted the Sabah Attorney General’s (AG) application to attend the hearing as a “watching brief”.
A watching brief functions as an observer in a proceeding in which one was not directly or immediately concerned. Sabah AG Dayangku Fazidah Hatun Pg Bagul submitted the application to the Federal Court on June 5 to attend the hearing as a watching brief, stating that any decision from the case would have an impact on the state.
Last week, Petronas challenged the Sarawak government by taking legal action in seeking a declaration that the national oil company is the sole governing authority for upstream oil and gas (O&G) activities in Malaysia for both onshore and offshore.
The case by Petronas, which was filed on June 4, said the national oil company was seeking the declaration that the Petroleum Development Act 1974 (PDA) supersedes the Sarawak Oil Mining Ordinance 1958 (OMO) , the law the state has used as its basis for setting up its own O&G company Petros (Petroleum Sarawak Bhd) as the sole authority for O&G activities in Sarawak.
On Monday, Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal said he had asked the state AG to monitor the legal case by Petronas against the Sarawak government as it would have an implication on the state.
Petronas filed another document on June 8 to seek a court order to preserve the status quo until the legal case was resolved.
The court hearing to seek leave was postponed to June 21 from June 12.
Following that, the Sarawak government issued a statement to express its “deep disappointment” with the decision by the Federal Court to postpone a hearing over the state’s rights on its O&G resources.
The state government said it would consider all other options to protect and enforce its constitutional rights.
“The state government would not allow Petronas to disrespect and disregard our rights to regulate the upstream activities under our laws such as the OMO and the Land Code,” it said.