Oil and gas: Chong advises S’wak to file suit in High Court to reclaim its rights

Chong speaking to the press at Abdul Karim’s Hari Raya open house at Penview Convention Centre in Kuching today.

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KUCHING, June 24: Sarawak Pakatan Harapan chairman Chong Chieng Jen said the Sarawak government should file a suit in the High Court if it was serious in reclaiming the rights over its oil and gas resources.

He said the Federal Court’s decision on the Petronas vs Sarawak Government case on Saturday was that it was not the proper forum to hear the national oil giant’s application to have exclusive rights over oil and gas resources in Sarawak based on the Petroleum Development Act 1974 (PDA).

The proper forum is the High Court.

“It is neither victory nor loss for either party. Petronas was asked to pay RM50,000 cost because they filed (the case) in the wrong court. Basically, this is the position, but it does not clarify the position of the law as to who has the right (to the oil and gas in Sarawak).

“So, I think it is either the state government or Petronas to file a case in the High Court to clarify this once and for all,” Chong told reporters at Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah’s Hari Raya Aidilfitri open house at Penview Convention Centre here today.

Chong, who is also Stampin MP and Kota Sentosa assemblyman, said shouting outside the court would not serve any purpose but only add confusion and uncertainty to the oil and gas industry.

He opined that at the moment, uncertainties lingered as to which law should prevail, whether it is the PDA or Sarawak Oil Mining Ordinance 1958, and this had to be resolved.

Such uncertainties, Chong believed, were affecting the oil and gas industry.

“As I am speaking, as time goes, investors are being sceptical, cautious and unwilling to invest,” he said, adding that Sarawakians would be affected because appointments, businesses and job opportunities would be less.

Chong said as a responsible government, the state had to take the matter to court.

“It is what I said when Petronas took the matter to court. I said it was a golden opportunity for the state government to prove its claim.”

He said if Sarawak failed to take its right back in the court, it could always fall back on the 20 per cent oil royalties as promised by Pakatan Harapan.

Twenty per cent, he added, was the maximum Sarawak could claim from any oil and gas company considering the cost of extraction, marketing, renovation and development, and exploration. — DayakDaily