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KUCHING, Sept 18: The RM2.9 billion payment of State Sales Tax (SST) seemed to be a trade-off for the rights of Sarawak over its oil and gas, in that the state government accepted the SST but surrendered its oil and gas rights to the federal government.
Highlighting this, Democratic Action Party (DAP) Sarawak chairman Chong Chieng Jen emphasised that this will be the second time that the state government reaffirmed the validity of Petroleum Development Act 1974 (PDA 1974) which took away Sarawak’s oil and gas rights in return for a fraction of its value and worth.
“The first time the Sarawak government surrendered Sarawak’s oil and gas rights to the federal government happened in 1974 when the PDA 1974 was tabled and passed in Parliament.
“About 40 years later, the late (Pehin Sri) Adenan Satem openly questioned the invalidity and unconstitutionality of the law and wanted to regain Sarawak’s rights over its oil and gas,” he explained in a statement today.
Chong pointed out that, with the agreement of the current Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) government now accepting the payment of SST in settlement of the dispute over Sarawak’s oil and gas rights, the Sarawak government has for the second time affirmed the validity of the PDA 1974.
He said it thus spelt the end of whatever legal argument that the late Adenan had earlier put forth in the Sarawak State Legislative Assembly (DUN) in claiming Sarawak oil and gas rights.
“It also puts to a stop the demand for increasing the oil and gas royalty. More importantly, it will prevent our future generations from claiming our oil and gas rights.
“The GPS government wants to portray that the collection of the RM2.9 billion SST is a victory, but it seems that Sarawak has lost more than the RM2.9 billion collected. It could be a second time Sarawak Government being penny wise pound foolish,” he criticised.
Chong, who is also Stampin MP, added that it was similar to the situation back in 1974 when the PDA 1974 was passed with Sarawak given the five per cent royalty in compensation of its rights over the oil and gas.
“It was then thought that the five per cent royalty was a good bargain for Sarawak, but only later found to be grossly inadequate,” he said.
Furthermore, Chong opined that what the federal government gave through Petronas in terms of SST can always be balanced off by reducing the annual budgetary allocations for Sarawak.
“It is just from the left pocket to the right pocket. Meanwhile, we lost our claim over our oil and gas forever.
“The state government must be forthcoming to the people of Sarawak in disclosing the full extent of the bargain and not merely giving a rosy picture but hiding the unfavourable truth behind the settlement,” he urged.-DayakDaily