Oil royalty negotiations to be handled by professionals, says CM

Abang Johari (seated fourth right) poses for a group photo with members of the media at a hotel in Kuching today. Also seen are (from seated second left) Abdullah, Morshidi, Uggah, Masing and Sharifah Hasidah.

KUCHING, July 31: The Sarawak government will entrust negotiations with the federal government over oil royalty to the professionals especially through Petroleum Sarawak Berhad (Petros) and Petronas, said Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg.

He reiterated that the negotiations between the two oil entities must be based on Sarawak’s rights under the Sarawak Oil Mining Ordinance (OMO), the Malaysian Agreement of 1963 (MA63) and the Federal Constitution.

“We leave it to the professionals. Let it be done professionally. Politics must not be too dominant in this discussion. But discussion must be on our rights and how we can benefit from the oil and gas for the sake of the country as well as how Sarawak, which has the rights (over its oil and gas), can participate in the oil and gas industry.

“Let it be discussed professionally because politics sometimes can go out of proportion (distort the discussion). That’s why I leave it to the professionals to look into that issue,” Abang Johari said during a Question and Answer session at the “CM Abang Jo with the media” event held at a hotel here today.

He further explained that what the Sarawak Government insisted on is its rights over its oil and gas and not the amount of so-called ‘compensation’ based on the two deals offered by Pakatan Harapan (PH) Sarawak as highlighted its State chairman Chong Chieng Jen.

“That’s (the two deals offered by Pakatan Harapan Sarawak) is their interpretation. Our interpretation is different. We have to assert our rights. Mun you give in you sika da right lah (If you give in you have no rights). But we must stick to our rights. If that is our right, that’s our right. Nothing more, nothing less,” he asserted.

Before the 14th General Election, the chief minister disclosed that his office did receive the memorandum from state Pakatan Harapan (PH) chairman Chong Chieng Jen but he considered it as not binding as it was not based on ‘Federal Government and Sarawak Government’ but rather PH Sarawak’s election manifesto.

“That’s their promise. We didn’t make that promise. As far as we are concerned we have not receive any offer from the PH federal government. This so-called ‘deal’ is not endorsed by the federal cabinet,” he stressed, adding that he would leave it to Petros to continue the negotiation with Petronas.

Abang Johari (left) answering questions from members of the media as Abdullah as moderator looks on.

Abang Johari pointed out that if indeed the so-called ‘deal’ from PH Sarawak was endorsed by the PH federal government, then there should be proper communication from the federal government to the Sarawak government, and not through PH Sarawak.

He said Chong as the chairman of PH Sarawak has no locus standi to act on behalf of the federal government as he is just a deputy minister in the federal government and as such he (Chong) is not part of the Federal Cabinet.

The chief minister insisted that currently, only Baru Bian is a member of the Federal Cabinet by virtue of him being a full minister.

“And he (Baru) is the only one from Sarawak who attends the (Federal) Cabinet meeting. So the deputy minister (Chong) is not part of the Federal Cabinet,” he emphasised.

Yesterday, Chong and Baru jointly issued a press statement containing the so-called ‘new deal’ for Sarawak which offered 5 per cent of oil and gas royalty, plus 20 per cent oil and gas monies derived from profits.

The deal also include an offer of 50 per cent of taxes collected in Sarawak to be given back to the state government.

However, the deal was shot down by the Sarawak government as PH Sarawak insisted that Sarawak should also take care of educational and health issues in Sarawak, which according to the Federal Constitution, should be under the purview of the federal government.

The ‘Question and Answer’ session was moderated by Assistant Minister of Corporate Affairs Abdullah Saidol.

Also present at the event were Deputy Chief Ministers Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas and Tan Sri Dr James Jemut Masing, State Secretary Tan Sri Datuk Amar Mohd Morshidi Abdul Ghani and Assistant Minister of Law, State-Federal Relations and Project Monitoring Sharifah Hasidah Sayeed Aman Ghazali. — DayakDaily