Help fix the Petronas issue, Swak PH lawmakers told

Michael Tiang

KUCHING, June 7: Sarawak Pakatan Harapan (PH) Members of Parliament should help the state fix the problem of national oil giant Petronas wanting to claim rights to all oil and gas resources in the country instead of issuing press statements asking state ministers to apologise to the people for purportedly misleading them on this matter.

Sarawak PH lawmakers could, for instance, go and see Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and tell him that there should never be any infringement on Sarawak’s rights as guaranteed in the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63).

In stating this today, Sarawak United Peoples’ Party (SUPP) Central Youth chief Michael Tiang wondered why the Sarawak PH MPs chose to keep silent even though they were now the only representatives from Sarawak in the federal government.

“(In keeping their silence) is it because they are very cautious about not jeopardising their chances for ministerial appointments, and that those chances outweigh the importance of fighting for Sarawak’s rights and interests?” asked Tiang in a statement.

“From Sarawak PH’s press releases, one can see that they are not making any effort or plans to stop Sarawak’s rights from being challenged and further eroded. I am wondering whether their silence is a blessing to Petronas’ court application.”

On June 4, Petronas filed an application before the Federal Court seeking for a declaration on the Petroleum Development Act 1974 (PDA) being the law applicable for the petroleum industry in Malaysia.

The application was also to state that Petronas is the exclusive owner of petroleum resources as well as the regulator for the upstream industry throughout Malaysia, including in Sarawak.

Tiang argued that the land and territorial waters within Sarawak’s boundaries belonged to Sarawak ever since the last century, and they were gazetted by the Queen in Council in 1954. Even after the formation of Malaysia, those rights remained intact, and they were also clearly enshrined in the Federal Constitution.

He, therefore, questioned the logic of Sarawak PH leaders criticising the state for being passive on this matter.

“For example, if you were the landowner and others intend to enter your land for commercial activities, which party shall seek court’s declaration on who shall have the rights to the land?

“The answer is very simple. It is always the one who wants to claim rights to enter into the land for commercial activities, not the landowner. In the present scenario, it must be for Petronas to seek declaration from the court, not the landowner (Sarawak),” said Tiang.

In addition, he said the legal proceedings should never be about the party that initiated the proceeding shall enjoy an upper hand in the case.

He said the PDA and Territorial Sea Act 2012 (TSA) cannot supersede MA63 and the Federal Constitution, and as such, these unconstitutional laws must be reviewed immediately.

“Petronas must respect Sarawak’s sovereignty and comply with the Oil Mining Ordinance 1958 for all their oil mining activities in Sarawak,” said Tiang.

On June 5, Sarawak Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) vice-chairman See Chee How urged Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg and the Sarawak government to take Petronas’ court action seriously.

See claimed that it was because of the state government’s arrogance, gross negligence and erroneous judgment over the past 18 months that had put Sarawak in this present precarious situation with which “there can be no more margin of error in the effort to safeguard our sovereign rights and authority to our territorial boundary and our resources including oil and gas”. — DayakDaily