Oil royalties: Are PH Sarawak and federal PH on the same page, questions Abdullah Saidol

Abdullah Saidol. — DayakDaily.com file pic.

KUCHING, July 30: “Is Pakatan Harapan (PH) Sarawak having the same wavelength with PH Federal?” asked Assistant Minister of Corporate Affairs Abdullah Saidol today, when reacting to PH Sarawak so-called ‘new deal’.

PH Sarawak’s statement on the ‘new deal’ was signed by state PH chairman Chong Chieng Jen and state PKR chief Baru Bian. It was distributed to reporters on the sidelines of Parliament today.

Under the deal, Pakatan offers to give the Sarawak government 20 per cent of oil profits, on top of the 5 per cent royalty it currently gets.

Abdullah said after going through PH Sarawak’s statement, he wondered whether the state and federal PH were on the same page, because Economic Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali had said in Parliament recently that the royalty would be based on net profit and not on gross production.

“He (Azmin) admitted that PH Government does not foresee encountering constraint in its effort to increase the royalty when drafting up its election manifesto. He further stated that amendment to PDA (Petroleum Development Act 1974) is necessary to accommodate the revision of royalties,” Abdullah said in a statement today.

On the other hand, Abdullah pointed out, Chong and PH Sarawak stated that, “If Petronas cannot afford to pay the full 20 per cent royalties, the federal government will top up the shortfall.”

“It looks like Sarawak PH and PH Federal Ministers are not communicating well, and that doesn’t give any credibility in PH Sarawak’s ‘new deal’.”

Abdullah said it was either Chong tabled the said Motion to amend Section 2(1) of PDA as promised or advise Azmin that Section 3(2) of the PDA states that: ‘The Corporation shall be subject to the control and direction of the prime minister who may from time to time issue such direction as he may deem fit’.

“So, my advice to Chong and PH leaders is please do Sarawakians a favour by recommending to the prime minister to grant 20 per cent of royalty, which should not derive from profit but from the value of production. I believe the majority Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) MPs will support you.

“So, when will you plan to do that rather than wasting time coming up with all sort of bluffing deal. Do you really expect Sarawakians to believe that PH federal government will top up the shortfall if 20 per cent royalties cannot be paid in full? Please stop insulting Sarawakians,” said Abdullah.

Abdullah added that Item 3 in the statement was another obvious example of manipulation by PH leaders. Item 3 stated that due to the state government’s rejection of the initial offer, the federal government was compelled to renegotiate the whole matter.

“Now, when did the federal government make that offer? The offer was from PH Sarawak. Perhaps Chong and PH Sarawak should get the prime minister or minister of finance to announce officially such on offer because we don’t think PH Sarawak is capable of fulfilling such so-called ‘new deal’ without official endorsement of the federal cabinet,” he stressed.

On a related issue, Abdullah pointed out that PH Sarawak had mentioned again about its proposal that Sarawak should take full financial obligations to administer all matters relating to education and health care.

“While PH Sarawak obviously sounds sceptical about their ability to fulfil their promises on royalties, shockingly now they want Sarawak to be financially burdened by taking over the administration of education and health, which are well stipulated in the Federal Constitution that it is the constitutional obligation of the federal government.

“That’s a glaring attempt to betray Sarawakians and favour the federal PH master. So, I suggest that Works Minister Baru Bian and Deputy Minister of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs (Chong) from PH Sarawak concentrate on your ministerial duties,” said Abdullah.

In telling Baru to make sure the Public Works Department (JKR) get a big allocation and built better roads in Sarawak, he asked Chong whether he really believed prices of essential goods were going down.

“No wonder Sarawak PH Chairman was given only a deputy minister’s post in the federal cabinet,” Abdullah said.

Meanwhile, Abdullah also reminded Chong of his (Chong’s) promise that was announced and published on March 11, 2018.

“PH Sarawak chairman Chong, when are you going to table that Motion that you proudly described as a ‘small’ amendment to Section 2(1) of PDA 1974? I agreed with you that small amendment will enable Sarawak to reclaim the ownership of all oil and gas discovered in Sarawak,” said Abdullah. — DayakDaily