CHIEF Minister Abang Johari Openg has given another hint that Sarawak will muscle in to claim more revenue from oil and gas for its coffers.
“I already have ideas (on generating more income), but I cannot reveal them today,” said Abang Johari, who is also president of Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB), the second-largest party in the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition, when jointly opening the PBB Women and Youth wings’ triennial delegates’ conference in Kuching today.
“We have oil, we have gas, but we only see other people benefiting from them,” he said in an apparent reference to the Petroleum Development Act 1974 (PDA), which takes away gains from the two valuable resources from the state, and the highly contentious royalty payment arrangement, where the federal government gets 95% of revenue from the state’s oil and gas.
The PDA, a law passed by Parliament, gives Petronas the sole right to the exploration and exploitation of oil and gas, whether onshore or offshore, and “the entire ownership, and exclusive rights, powers, liberties and privileges” relating to the resources.
Having already demanded that state gets an increase in royalty to 20%, Abang Johari has spoken about plans to curtail the national petroleum company’s unbridled operations in Sarawak.
They include making Petronas obtain mining permits, as the rights to issue mining leases still rest with the state under the Malaysia Agreement 1963, and the formation of Petroleum Sarawak, a state oil company “to look after the interests of the state”.
Sarawak has also demanded that it gets the first right of refusal in any new development of oil and gas fields.
Abang Johari said he was “very confident” of making Sarawak a developed state by 2030.
“We have set a target. We can meet that target if our revenues are increased… so that we can better develop our cities and rural areas.”
He said this confidence was the reason why he dared disclose plans to build mega projects, like the light rail transit for Kuching and Samarahan, the building of an “internet backbone” in rural Sarawak and the building of a water grid without federal assistance.
The water grid, which involves laying a huge water main through the entire length of the state, could cost between RM7 billion and RM8 billion.
Abang Johari said when such major infrastructure was in place, “then, we can call Sarawak a developed state”.
Gerald Rentap Jabu, the son of former deputy chief minister Alfred Jabu, takes over the helm of the PBB Youth wing from Works Minister Fadillah Yusof, who has stepped down due to his age.
State Welfare, Community Wellbeing, Women, Family and Childhood Development Minister Fatimah Abdullah has been made president of the party’s Women’s wing after Empiang Jabu, who is Gerald’s mother, stepped down after 11 years at the helm.
Both Gerald and Fatimah won uncontested. – February 9, 2018.