Oil royalties: Masing ignorant of legal system, PH’s manifesto, says Yii

Dr Kelvin Yii

KUCHING, March 11: Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri James Masing’s recent statement alleging that Pakatan Harapan (PH) Sarawak has misled Sarawakians over the issue of oil royalty and that their offering of 20 per cent oil royalty is tantamount to betraying the state shows his ignorance of the Malaysian legal system as well as the details of the PH manifesto, said a state opposition leader today.

“May I remind him that the ultimate act of betrayal was Barisan Nasional’s (BN) Sarawak consent to give away our rights in the first place,” said Dr Kelvin Yii, special assistant to Bandar Kuching MP Chong Chieng Jen in a statement today.

“Masing’s argument is based on a recent statement by Chief Minister (Datuk Patinggi) Abang Johari (Tun Openg) claiming that the Territorial Sea Act (TSA) 2012 and Petroleum Development Act (PDA) 1972 is “not relevant” which is not just ambiguous but also with little accountability if he does not take the required step of not only passing a resolution in the State Assembly to nullify it, but also challenge it either in the Federal Court to be unconstitutional or repeal it through an act of parliament.”

Yii said under the Malaysian legal system, any law passed in Malaysia and duly gazetted to come into force is deemed to be good law until it is repealed, or the Federal Court declares it to be unconstitutional and null and void.

“The constitutionality or unconstitutionality of an enactment is determined by the Federal Court of law, not just by mere public declarations. Thus TSA 2012 and PDA 1974 currently are still valid laws and as affirmed by our Chief Minister, all we have is full regulatory power, not full ownership. Any attempts to deny that is a deliberate attempt to mislead the people just for personal political gains.”

He also took Masing to task for dismissing the PH manifesto, saying the Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) president was ignorant of what is at state in the coming general election (GE14).

“First thing we need to establish is that Petros (Petroleum Sarawak Berhad) and the authority to assert our mining rights is the prerogative of the BN state government, elected in 2016.

“Thus, any outcome of the federal election will not have any say in the prerogative of the state government to assert their right and even gain revenues from the issuing of mining lease and licences.

“What we in Pakatan Harapan is offering is an upright 20 per cent oil royalty once in power to the state government even if it is still under BN. We have also pledged in our manifesto to establish a Special Select Cabinet Committee, not just an RCI (Royal Commission of Inquiry), to look through and implement the needed amendments or repeal of legislations contrary to MA63 (Malaysia Agreement 1963) within the first 100 days of power. Then within the first six months a proper report will be presented, and active actions will be done to make the necessary amendments to those legislation including the Territorial Sea Act and also Petroleum Development Act.

“This is a proactive and accountable intention with a timeline set to it, unlike Abang Johari’s “special High Task force” that has no timeline neither any accountability attached to it.

“Thus, if and once Pakatan Harapan comes into federal power, Sarawak will benefit not just from the revenues from the issuance of license, profits from sub-contracts to Petros, but also the direct 20 per cent oil royalty promised to Sarawak, on top of the coming amendments to legislations contrary to our interest established in the Malaysian Agreement 1963.”

Yii said if Abang Johari or BN Sarawak really has the best interest of Sarawak at heart,they would acknowledge the deal offered by PH is ‘clearly a better deal in place for our people’.

“If he (Masing) calls for the opposition to support what is best for Sarawak, thus I make the same call to our Chief Minister that this is the better deal for Sarawak and instead of dismissing it, understand what is offered and realise it is clearly the better deal.

“Thus, the talks of 20 per cent oil royalty under Pakatan Harapan is just the tip of the iceberg of things to come for the benefit of the state unlike the Barisan Nasional government whose refusal to make the necessary amendments even though they are in power speaks volume of their insincerity in restoring our rights.”

Yii also said Abang Johari’s statement claiming that the PDA and TSA are ‘not relevant’ is not an accountable announcement and was purely made to mislead the public in an attempt to build the impression that Sarawak has 100 per cent control of its oil and gas resources.

He added that BN Sarawak leaders jumping on the bandwagon to praise this statement are either ignorant of the law or making a deliberate choice to mislead the people.

“In reality he and BN Sarawak are just supporting and empowering a kleptocratic regime that not only stole billions from the people, but are also the very ones that took away our rights in the first place.

“The ultimate betrayal was the deliberate act by Barisan Nasional to give away our rights in the first place and now they ask us to praise them on a ambiguous and non-accountable statement by the Chief Minister.” — DayakDaily