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By Nigel Edgar
PANTU, Aug 24: Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg today lashed out at his critics for their comments assuming he would make personal decision concerning oil and gas rights of the state in his direct negotiation with Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
He assured that he will report the issues back to the Sarawak Consultative Committee in the State Legislative Assembly (DUN).
“Dr Mahathir’s intention is to negotiate the state’s oil and gas matters with me. I will not give an inch of concession in our terms concerning our oil and gas. I will discuss with the Consultative Committee in the DUN. That is the way,” he said.
“But there are some people who spinned the story to say that I will make the decision. No, because there are a lot of layers in the discussion with the Prime Minister including Petronas management and those related. Therefore we need to discus in detail, including Sabah Chief Minister (Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal),” he added.
Abang Johari emphasised this when addressing the launching of Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) Zone 6 (comprising Balai Ringin, Bukit Begunan, Simanggang, Engkilili and Batang Ai state constituencies) at Lachau here this morning.
Earlier this week, Abang Johari has confirmed that the oil and gas rights of Sabah and Sarawak were being discussed directly between him, Dr Mahathir and Sabah Chief Minister.
That report drew flak from various quarters including state politicians and non-governmental organisations (NGOs), insisting that Sarawakians should also have the right to be involved in decision making over the state’s oil and gas rights.
On another issue, Abang Johari also hit out at critics claiming that the recent Cabinet reshuffle, with minor changes to the portfolios, were baseless and would not benefit Sarawak.
He explained that the reason why Tan Sri Dr James Jemut Masing’s ministry was changed to Ministry of Infrastructure and Port Development was that Sarawak has autonomy over its own ports.
“Therefore, to encourage import and export trading activities, there is a need to develop and even expand the ports in the state,” he said.
“We talked about Indonesia relocating its capital from Jakarta to Kalimantan and this means Kalimantan would need to use our port to import and export their stuffs,” he added.
On the Ministry of Transport headed by Datuk Lee Kim Shin, Abang Johari explained that the state is in the midst of not only constructing the Pan Borneo Highway and the Coastal Highway, but also trying to improve its urban and public transportation.
“Some people said we don’t even have proper roads to justify the Ministry. They are blind. Many urban roads, and even the Coastal Highway is ours (state own). We need someone to look into traffic management including urban areas as well,” he said.
As for Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan which ministry has been changed to Ministry of Trade and Industry, Industrial Terminal and Entrepreneur Development, he pointed out that Sarawak is in the midst of getting involved in more downstream businesses in the oil and gas industry.
“We are producing methanol now. Unlike before, we just watch from the sidelines while others take all our oil and gas. No more this time, we want to participate in the downstream of our oil and gas,” he added.— DayakDaily