Oil and gas rights: State govt to issue counter statement to Dr Shad’s points

Fong (left) and Sharifah Hasidah fielding questions from reporters.

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By Karen Bong

KUCHING, Oct 9: The state government will issue a statement later today to counter the points raised by constitution expert Emeritus Professor Datuk Dr Shad Saleem Faruqi on Sarawak’s rights over its oil and gas.

State legal counsel Datuk JC Fong explained the state government is against and disagreed with the points highlighted by the Shad.

“The statement is being finalised now and will be issued at 3pm,” he told reporters when met at a hotel here today where Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg attended an official function.

After the event ended, Fong and Assistant Minister of Law, State-Federal Relations and Project Monitoring Sharifah Hasidah Sayeed Aman Ghazali immediately proceeded to a meeting with Abang Johari, believed to be a discussion about the issue.

Dr Shad, who also holds the Tunku Abdul Rahman Chair as Professor of Constitutional Law at the University of Malaya, shared his opinion yesterday that regardless of oil and gas under the sea or ground, found or not found, it is in the hands of the federal government.

Speaking at a lecture titled ‘The Spirit of the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) in Our Constitution’, he said these are all in the federal list under Schedule 9 List 1, Item 8(j) and therefore any regulation of or dealing with “petroleum products” are also in the federal government’s hands.

There is an ongoing dispute between national oil corporation Petronas and Sarawak about the state’s constitutional right to impose State Sales Tax (SST) on the sale of petroleum products under Article 95B(3) of the Federal Constitution and the State Sales Tax Ordinance 1998.

Sharifah Hasidah added: “That’s just Dr Shad’s opinion and we (state government) disagree with it. We have our own opinions over the matter.”

“A statement will be issued on our stand concerning the (five per cent) Sales Tax (imposed on export of Petroleum products).”

Sharifah Hasidah reiterated that the state government remained firm on its stand to impose the Sales Tax as it is Sarawak’s right.

“We will continue to fight and pursue our rights over oil and gas in our shores. Other steps to consider including taking it to the court but now we are still negotiating with the stakeholders,” she concluded.