No need to denounce, retract May 8 joint statement, says Abdul Karim

Abdul Karim at the press conference. Photo credit — Sarawak Public Communications Unit (Ukas)

By Lian Cheng

KUCHING, June 12: Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah called the suggestion to denounce the May 8 joint statement by the Sarawak government and Petronas on oil and gas as “silly”.

The Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) vice president stated that whatever Sarawak Legislative Assembly (DUN) Consultative Committee deliberated on June 10, 2020 was sufficient enough to explain the stance of the Sarawak government on its oil and gas.

“Why must there be a need by the Sarawak government to denounce and retract the joint statement made on May 8?

“The DUN Consultative Committee’s deliberation and statement made two days ago suffice to clarify and correct whatever misinformation and incorrectness which the public may have pertaining to the joint statement.

“There is no need to denounce or retract the joint statement. Sometimes, certain things needed not be politicised and it’s better for the matter to rest. I deem this as a silly suggestion by YB Chong Chieng Jen,” said Abdul Karim, who is also Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Minister.

On May 8, Sharifah Hasidah and Ahmad Nizam issued a joint statement that both the Sarawak government and Petronas had reached an amicable settlement of 5 per cent SST on petroleum products in Sarawak.

For Petronas, it would withdraw all its legal proceedings and make full payment of 5 per cent Sarawak Sales Tax (SST) imposed by the Sarawak Government on petroleum products for 2019 amounting to RM2 billion.

According to the statement, Sarawak government and Petronas agreed that taxation for petroleum products under the SST (Taxable Goods and Rate of Tax) (Amendment) (No 2) Order, 2018 be subjected to fluctuation based on decisions made during future negotiations and that Petroleum Development Act 1974 (Act 144) remained in force.

On June 10, DUN Consultative Committee chairman Datuk Amar Mohd Asfia Awang Nassar told a press conference that the Sarawak government would be seeking RM2.878 billion in SST from Petronas without reduction or deduction, after a DUN Consultative Committee meeting at DUN Complex.

He clarified that the May 8 joint statement was not a final agreement between Sarawak and Petronas and stressed that Sarawak’s rights to its oil and gas is non-negotiable.

“The joint press statement made by Assistant Minister of Law, State-Federal Relations Datuk Sharifah Hasidah and Petronas chairman Datuk Ahmad Nizam Salleh (on May 8, 2020) is not a final agreement that has a binding effect on Sarawak because it was based on an ongoing negotiation.

“Then this committee came up with three provisions, namely: it should be based on the Petroleum Development Act 1974 (PDA 74); Continental Shelf 1963 and the Territorial Sea Act 2012 which are strictly compartmentalised based on two-track negotiations at the federal government level and ours,” he explained.

Meanwhile, Sharifah Hasidah, who was also present, clarified that the May 8 joint statement was to highlight the willingness of Petronas to pay the SST in recognition to state laws governing the oil and gas in Sarawak territories, especially the Oil Mining Ordinance 1958 (OMO) 1958, Inter-Governmental Committee Report (IGC) 1963 and the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63).

Responding to Asfia’s press conference, DAP Sarawak chairman Chong, who is also Kota Sentosa assemblyman had yesterday issued a statement pointing out that the announcements made during the press conference on June 10 had refuted all the three agreed arrangements between Sarawak government and Petronas on May 8.

Agreeing with what Asfia had stated at the press conference, Chong said if the Sarawak government were on the same page with the decision of the Consultation Committee, the Sarawak government must immediately issue a letter to Petronas and a press statement denouncing and retracting the May 8 joint statement.—DayakDaily