Convene a Consultative Committee on MA63 meeting

A collage photo of (clockwise) See, Chang and Chiew

KUCHING, May 16: Sarawak State Legislative Assembly (DUN) Speaker Datuk Amar Mohd Asfia Awang Nassar has been urged to expeditiously call for a meeting to deliberate on matters pertaining to the negotiation, dealing and arrangement between the Sarawak government and Petronas to safeguard the state’s sovereign rights and interests to oil and gas within the territory of Sarawak.

Tanjung Batu assemblyman Chiew Chiu Sing, Bukit Assek assemblywoman Irene Mary Chang Oi Ling and Batu Lintang assemblyman See Chee How, all of them are also members of the Sarawak Consultative Committee on Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63), have made this call through a joint statement issued today.

“We are most concerned that the agreement reached between the Sarawak government and Petronas will have detrimental and dire financial consequences on the state, and any concession made by the state government in their arrangement and agreement may contravene the desires, demands, and expectations of Sarawakians,” the three DUN members said.

They noted that Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg had expressed on May 14 (Thursday) that the new arrangement being negotiated and the negotiation will have to go through the DUN Consultative Committee.

Besides calling Asfia, who is the chairman of the Consultative Committee to expeditiously schedule and call for a meeting, they also urged the state government not to allow any further steps to be taken by any state authority body or office to give legal effect to any of the terms of settlement until and unless the same have been fully deliberated and agreed upon by the Sarawak Consultative Committee on MA63.

In the joint-statement, they reminded that on Nov 6, 2018 the DUN had unanimously approved a ministerial motion tabled by Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah pursuant to Standing Order 23(1)(a) read together with Standing Order 89 and Article 24(1) of the State Constitution to establish a Consultative Committee to determine and agree upon the representations for submission to the Sarawak representatives of the MA63 Steering Committee to advance and safeguard the special interests, rights and position of Sarawak as enshrined in MA63 and the Federal Constitution and to meet the expectations of Sarawakians for greater autonomy and devolution of powers to the state.

They noted that on May 8, 2020, it was published in Sarawakian and national online media a joint statement signed by the Assistant Minister of Law, State-Federal Relationship and Project Monitoring Datuk Sharifah Hasidah Sayeed Aman Ghazali and the chairman of Petroliam Nasional Berhad (Petronas) Datuk Ahmad Nizam Salleh declaring that both the state government of Sarawak and Petronas had reached settlement on their legal suits.

“The said joint statement had disclosed, amongst others, that the Sarawak state government and Petronas had agreed for Petronas to pay RM2 billion to settle the sales tax imposed on the petroleum products for year 2019, and that future petroleum products sales tax will be reduced and staggered based on future negotiations.

“Further, it was expressed that all previous agreements between the two parties made under the Petroleum Development Act are still valid and enforceable and that Petronas is still recognised as having full ownership and control over national oil and gas development, in line with the Federal Constitution.

The three assemblypersons however pointed out that it was regrettable that the negotiation, arrangement and agreement reached between the Sarawak state government and Petronas had proceeded without prior notice, deliberation nor sanction of the Consultative Committee on MA63.

“On May 11, 2020, Honourable member from Batu Lintang (See) had submitted an emergency motion to resolve for the Honourable Assistant Minister to reveal in our Legislative Assembly the full settlement terms and seek for the Dewan to review, appraise and deliberate on the terms and concessions and to instruct the State government of Sarawak on its present and future conduct of the legal proceedings to safeguard the sovereign rights of Sarawak to her Land and all her resources.

“In dismissing the said emergency motion, the Honourable Speaker of the Dewan had ruled that the matters raised in the Motion must first be referred to the Consultative Committee on MA63 for it to discuss and advice the Sarawak State Legislative Assembly on the course of action to embark,” the statement added. – DayakDaily