Dismissal of Petronas’ judicial review solidifies Sarawak’s legal rights

Abdullah speaking to the media at the Kuching Court Complex.

By Lian Cheng

KUCHING, Mar 13: Kuching High Court’s decision to dismiss Petronas’ judicial review filed against Sarawak government which demands the repayment of RM1.3 billion State Sales Tax on export of petroleum products will strengthen Sarawak’s position in determining its rights and interests under the law.

Assistant Minister in Chief Minister’s Office (Corporate Affairs and Public Communications) Abdullah Saidol called the  judicial review a “blessing in disguise” for Sarawak as it was the first time in the history of Malaysia that Sarawak’s legal rights had been tested in court.

“I think we should thank Petronas for coming up with such an action because once and for all, the matter is settled in court and the issue of whether we have the rights under our existing laws such as OMO (Oil Mining Ordinance 1958) and other rights that may be provided under the law to impose tax will not be questioned after this,” he said when met by the media at Kuching Court Complex today.

Although he did not give to conjecture that the outcome of the case signified that Sarawak’s ordinances superseded the Federal Constitution such as the Petroleum Development Act 1974 (PDA74), he believed that there would be more discussions or deliberations on Sarawak’s rights vis-a-vis PDA74 and Sea Territorial Act 2010 (STA 2010).

“But following this decision, I can’t avoid questioning the legality and legitimacy of these two Acts,” said Abdullah who is also Semop assemblyman.

On the regaining of Sarawak’s rights under the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63), Abdullah said with a huge representation of 11 Sarawakian MPs in the federal government, he hoped negotiations would go on smoothly.

“These 11 cabinet minister and deputy ministers will strengthen our voices especially at cabinet level to highlight matters with regards to our rights and interests,” he said.

However, he also understood that the new federal administration carried a bigger responsibility than just looking into the interests of Sarawak.

He thus prioritised three areas which the new federal administration under Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin needed to urgently tackle, namely the national economy, educational issues and national unity.

“During the past administration, there was a lot of bigotry, there was a lot of hatred, there was a lot of baseless allegations,” said Abdullah on the importance of fostering national unity.

To him, government may change overnight but the injury inflicted onto the nation through intense propaganda of hatred and prejudice could not be healed easily.

“I think the burden is for politicians from both sides to make sure this injury is not becoming worse like the Coronavirus. Disease of racism is not easy to cure,” said Abdullah.—DayakDaily