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By Adrian Lim
KUCHING, Sept 18: Bukit Assek assemblywoman Irene Chang urges the state government to be transparent and reveal the terms of the settlement between Petroliam Nasional Bhd (Petronas) and the Sarawak government on the payment of RM2.956 billion of State Sales Tax (SST) for 2019.
Chang, who is a member of the Democratic Action Party (DAP) Sarawak, said the state government has a moral and social obligation to the people of Sarawak in disclosing the terms of settlement with the national oil corporation.
“Until today, the state government has yet to disclose the terms of the above settlement.
“The state government is the custodian of Sarawakians’ rights and interest. As such, she should also be the defender of those rights and interests.
And therefore, even if the state government has no legal obligation to disclose the terms of settlement, she owes a moral and social obligation to the people to disclose those terms,” she said in a statement.
Chang added the people of Sarawak should be alerted on the omission by the state government due to the fact that on May 8, a joint statement issued by Assistant Minister of Law, State and Federal Relations and Project Monitoring Datuk Sharifah Hasidah Sayeed Aman Ghazali and Petronas chairman Tan Sri Ahmad Nizam Salleh which was reported to have stated that the purported terms of settlement included the recognition of Petronas as a national oil company with full authority over regulating the entire development of the country’s oil and gas industry, including those in Sarawak.
Chang said the statement was in contradiction to the stance taken by the state government at all times that the Petroleum Development Act 1974 is unconstitutional and null and void and therefore unenforceable in law.
Chang,who is also one of the members of the Sarawak Legislative Assembly’s (DUN) Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) Consultative Committee, added that although the position was firmly rejected by Sarawak Consultative Committee in their meeting on June 10, the joint statement and the contents therein was never retracted by the state executive government who was the only one engaged in the negotiation of settlement with Petronas and the federal government.
“It is good for Sarawakians that finally our State’s authority to impose the SST has been endorsed by the Court of law as well as by all parties concerned.
“But, this should never be done at the expense of any concession being made by Sarawak to Petronas which might threaten our rights and interest as Sarawakians.
“I therefore urge the state government to practise transparency and accountability and disclose to the people the full details on the terms of settlement, to assure them that no concession which would threaten the loss of our people’s rights and interest, has been made by the state government to Petronas in return for the payment of the SST to Sarawak,” she added. —DayakDaily