KUCHING: An “urgent” session of the Sarawak Legislative Assembly should be called immediately to discuss the state’s rights over oil and gas, including issuing licences for upstream and downstream activities.
Batu Lintang assemblyman See Chee How made this call in view of Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg’s recent announcement that Sarawak would assume full regulatory authority over oil and gas activities by July.
He said a special sitting of the state assembly will provide a platform for differing legal and political opinions, propositions and solutions to be deliberated, considered and adopted in order that Sarawak may speak with one voice on the matter.
In particular, See said the special sitting was needed to make clear the state assembly’s collective stance on the prospecting, mining and development of Sarawak’s petroleum resources with regard to the Petroleum Development Act, Territorial Sea Act and the tripartite agreement signed between the Federal Government, state government and Petronas.
“According to the Chief Minister, both Acts are Federal laws which were not endorsed by the Sarawak Legislative Assembly and therefore could not be implemented in Sarawak or supersede state laws,” See, who is state PKR vice-chairman, said.
However, he noted that Petronas, in welcoming the setting up of the state-owned Petroleum Sarawak Bhd (Petros), supported the state’s aspirations to participate in the oil and gas industry “in line with the current framework of the Petroleum Development Act”.
He added that Sarawak PKR was in favour of demanding the return of the state’s rights and authority over its oil and gas resources.
“We are wary that the state will compromise on our ownership of petroleum resources in return for mere regulatory control and authority,” See said.
As such, he said it was “prudent and right” for the state government to present its proposition in the state assembly for deliberation and endorsement.