Chong: “Regulatory power” does not equate to “ownership” over oil and gas

KUCHING, March 19: A top gun from the Sarawak Opposition alliance claims that Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg is confusing the people with his so-called claim of regaining “regulatory power” over oil and gas in Sarawak.

Sarawak Pakatan Harapan chairman Chong Chieng Jen said “regulatory power” is not the same as “ownership”.

“The big show by Abang Jo in announcing the so-called (regaining of) “regulatory power” is just a cover-up for the failure on the part of Sarawak BN (Barisan Nasional) to obtain the 20 per cent oil and gas royalties as resolved by the Sarawak DUN (State Legislative Assembly) during the late (Pehin Sri) Adenan (Satem)’s time. It remains “hot air” by Abang Jo,” Chong said in a press statement today.

The Bandar Kuching MP and Kota Sentosa state assemblyman explained that there is a world of difference between “regulatory power” and “ownership”.

“The announcement by Abang Jo in relation to Sarawak having full “regulatory power” over the oil and gas industry is nothing but mere hot air when “ownership” of oil and gas still remains vested in Petronas under the Petroleum Development Act 1974,” he said.

“This is evident when after all the talk of “full regulatory power”, Sarawak will still only get 5 per cent of the oil and gas royalties for the oil and gas extracted from Sarawak, nothing extra.”

He added that the so-called “regulatory power” only involves another layer of licensing requirement as the Prime Minister and Petronas will remain the ultimate decision-makers in the industry, having control over export, import, industrial development and financing.

Moreover, laws and regulations in oil and gas industry ought to conform to international standards upon which Sarawak cannot unilaterally impose its conditions.

Using the concept of a company as an analogy to the case of the oil and gas industry in Sarawak, Chong explained that the shareholders of the company are the owners of the company, which is Petronas by virtue of the Petroleum Development Act, 1974.

Hence, Petronas has the ownership of all the oil and gas found in Sarawak, and the managing director is the overall person in-charge of the company which, in our case, is the Prime Minister, said Chong, adding the CEO and directors of Petronas are like the managers employed to manage the company.

“With the so-called “regulatory power” given to Sarawak over the oil and gas industry in Sarawak, Sarawak’s role is just analogous to a regional manager who has no ownership rights over the assets of the company (which is the oil and gas), but receives a salary for his work,” said Chong.

“That also explains why Abang Jo has repeatedly mentioned the phrase “Prime Minister has agreed to”. It is just like the boss having agreed to engage Sarawak as its regional manager to run some of the operations while the main decision-making remains with the Prime Minister and the ownership remains with Petronas which is also under the control of the Prime Minister,” he said. — DayakDaily