Chong urges state govt to retract previous joint statement with Petronas on O&G rights

Chong Chieng Jen

KUCHING, June 11: DAP Sarawak calls on the state government to immediately communicate the decision of the Sarawak Consultative Committee on Malaysia Agreement 1963 to Petronas and to denounce and retract the joint statement made on May 8, 2020.

Its chairman Chong Chieng Jen also urged for a press statement to follow in order to protect the legal rights of Sarawak in the state’s future claims on oil and gas rights.

“DAP (Democratic Action Party) Sarawak welcomes the position taken by the Consultative Committee as announced yesterday after the committee sat.

“But the announcement made by the Consultative Committee yesterday has refuted all the three agreed arrangements made by the state government with Petronas on May 8, 2020,” he pointed out in a statement today.

Chong, who is also Kota Sentosa assemblyman, asserted the Consultative Committee announcement yesterday contradicted the position of the Sarawak government who had made a joint press statement with Petronas on May 8, 2020 which categorically and unequivocally stated that:

“That Sarawak shall accept RM2 billion as full settlement of the outstanding SST amount; that Sarawak shall gradually reduce the five per cent rate of SST to be imposed on petroleum products in future; and Sarawak recognises the rights and ownership of Petronas under Petroleum Development Act, 1974 (PDA 1974) over the oil and gas found in Sarawak.”

Chong continued: “All the above positions taken in the joint press statement by the state government with Petronas are in fact a compromise on Sarawak’s claim on our oil and gas rights.

“Yet the joint press statement was issued by the Assistant Minister (of Law, State-Federal Relations and Project Monitoring) Datuk Sharifah Hasidah (Sayeed Aman Ghazali) for and on behalf of the Sarawak government, the State Cabinet.”

Chong claimed the question now is, who has the final say on the matter for Sarawak — the State Cabinet or the Consultative Committee?

In terms of representation, he opined that the Consultative Committee was more inclusive and more representative of the people of Sarawak as it consisted of representatives from both divides of the august House.

“In terms of the Sarawak Constitution, the State Cabinet has the final say on all matters governing the decision of the state government,” he added.

If the Sarawak government is on the same page with the decision of the Consultative Committee, Chong emphasised that the state government then must immediately issue a letter to Petronas and a press statement denouncing and retracting the joint press statement made on May 8, 2020.

“(With) failure to do so, the state government will be taken to continue endorsing the agreement stipulated in the said joint statement. This will further compromise Sarawak’s position on our future claims,” he opined.

Meanwhile, the Consultative Committee chairman Datuk Amar Mohd Asfia Awang Nassar stressed yesterday (June 10) that Sarawak’s rights over its oil and gas are enshrined in Sarawak’s various laws and provisions such as the Oil Mining Ordinance (OMO) 1958, the Inter-Governmental Report (IGC) 1963 and MA63.

He emphasised the need to flash the right signal to the federal government and Petronas in Sarawak’s pursuit of the State Sales Tax (SST) and that the state’s rights over oil and gas are non-negotiable.

Asfia also announced that Tourism, Arts, Culture and Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah has been appointed by the Consultative Committee as the chief negotiator for the state in talks with the federal government on petroleum products matters.

Four other members were also appointed to the negotiation team namely State Legislative Assembly deputy speaker Datuk Gerawat Gala, Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) information chief Datuk Idris Buang, Sarawak United Peoples’ Party (SUPP) secretary-general Datuk Sebastian Ting and Parti Sarawak Bersatu (PSB)’s See Chee How. — DayakDaily