By Karen Bong
KUCHING, Nov 6: Pending assemblywoman Violet Yong has pledged to become the ‘pom pom’ girl to support the Sarawak government when they take Petronas to court over unpaid petroleum sales tax.
The Democratic Action Party (DAP) lawmaker will have to put her plans on hold, as her motion for the state to take legal action against Petronas over the non-payment was dismissed by the Sarawak Legislative Assembly (DUN) speaker Datuk Amar Mohd Asfia Awang Nassar.
“The motion by Pending is premised on the fact that the state Budget 2019 provided for the collection of state sales tax on petroleum products and Petronas has hitherto, not paid the State Sales Tax to the state government, for speedy adjudication on the legitimacy for the recovery of unpaid state sales tax from Petronas but to determine the legitimacy of the state sales tax claimed from Petronas.
“For this august House to pass a motion to seek the court’s adjudication on action taken pursuant to an approved Budget and in accordance to legislation passed by this House would be having the House questioning the legitimacy of its own decision, bringing this august House to disrespect and public ridicule,” Asfia said when rejecting the motion.
He added that the motion should not be printed because it is irregular or obviously not proper subject for debate, being tendered in the spirit of mockery or designed to give annoyance.
If Petronas or any taxable person fails to comply with the laws passed by the august House, Asfia said the Executive Arm of Government must take action to ensure compliance.
“The state sales tax has been assessed by the controller. Petronas has not appealed against the assessment made. Petronas must pay the state sales tax as assessed even it disagrees with its imposition or dislike the tax. Petronas operating in Sarawak must first obey the state law, passed by this august House,” he said.
Asfia asked Yong if she and DAP lawmakers declared in the DUN that they were willing to support the state government in suing Petronas.
Violet stood up and replied: “Wow, I am hoping for this moment to come and this is the right moment. I and on behalf of my party DAP, we fully support the Sarawak government to take action against Petronas to claim back the five per cent sales tax imposed on all petroleum products by Petronas.
In submitting the motion, Yong said it was her intention to get the state lawmakers to officially state their stand on the matter.
“We are Sarawakians and what is wrong by allowing the GPS (Gabungan Parti Sarawak) elected representatives, as well as those from Pakatan Harapan to state our claims and put to vote that we support. Even without debate, we are willing to push the button to support,” she said.
Asfia then reiterated that Yong’s motion was not for the recovery of the sales tax. This prompted Yong to raise her voice and interjected, saying “of course, that is subject to the interpretation of the law”.
Yong asked whether Asfia is willing to support the state government to sue Petronas, to which, the speaker replied; “I have made my declaration through my ruling.”
She reminded that the deadline for Petronas to pay has passed, with the first deadline on Sept 31 and extended to Oct 31, 2019.
Asfia said a notice has been issued to Petronas but Yong, who unsatisfied with the answer, asked him to show and read out the notice to inform the august House, as it has only appeared in media reports.
To this, the speaker again asked Yong whether she and other DAP lawmakers would declare full support once a lawsuit has been filed.
Yong replied “Yes, I will go to court, I will be the ‘pom pom’ girl (cheerleader) and support”, drawing laughter and banging of tables from the assembly.
When Asfia sought confirmation that Yong will take GPS side on the matter, she said that she is on the side for the rights of Sarawakians, with a common goal of getting Petronas to pay the sales tax.
Yong told a press conference after the DUN sitting of her disappointment that the motion did not get through.
“We are doing this not for ourselves, we are fighting for all Sarawakians interest. I hope our state government is sincere and should not sell off our rights and for this five per cent sales tax, we are all for it,” she said. — DayakDaily