By Lian Cheng
KUCHING, Oct 28: Assistant Minister of Law, State-Federal Relations and Project Monitoring Sharifah Hasidah Sayeed Aman Ghazali opined that the Oil Mining Ordinance 1958 (OMO) and Petroleum Development Act 1974 (PDA) are not contradictory.
The two laws, according to her, could actually be read together.
“OMO is a law to regulate the operation of oil and gas, wherein Section 3 of OMO, it says ‘any party wants to explore, exploit, extract and sell oil and gas (in Sarawak) must obtain licences from Sarawak’ because oil and gas are the rights of Sarawak under the Land Ordinance of Sarawak.
“Sarawak Land Ordinance says wherever under our land within our boundary is our Sarawak’s rights. When it is our rights, we can enforce OMO to regulate the operation,” she said.
Sharifah Hasidah said the PDA was passed in Parliament during the Emergency and it gives Petronas the rights to protect, explore and mine oil and gas in the whole of Malaysia.
“Our opinion is OMO and PDA do not conflict one another. PDA gives the rights of Petronas to explore and mine our oil, but the oil is ours. So, we can use OMO to regulate it.
“So these two laws — PDA and OMO — can be read together. They can be reconciled. We can reconcile so that we can use the laws to regulate the upstream activities of our oil and gas,” she said at ‘Federalism Forum: Federal Constitution and Malaysia Agreement 1963’, which was part of the annual Lan Berambeh held at Malaysia International Trade and Exhibition Centre (MITEC) in Kuala Lumpur recently.
She said Sarawak’s oil industry started as early as 1910 at Canada Hill at the Grand Oil Lady Oil Well.
The first oil production saw the production of 83 barrels of crude oil, meaning Sarawak was advanced in the oil mining industry, she said.
Due to the oil production, the Sarawak Council, which is the present Sarawak Assembly, met on 1958 in Kuching to come up with a law called OMO to regulate the operation of upstream activities of oil and gas in Sarawak.
She said OMO predated Merdeka (independence) as the Malaysia Agreement was only signed in 1963.
By that, she asserted that the OMO is valid and still a good law, and it has been absorbed as a good law in the Federation of Malaysia for Sarawak.
“When our lawyers did the research, we found this law (OMO), which was never enforced. I think maybe because of the Declaration of Emergency in 1969. Because of that, OMO was ‘tergantung’ (hanging). It cannot be enforced, but it was never repealed.
“So, in 2011, our former prime minister (Najib Razak) lifted the Emergency and after that, OMO can be enforced,” said Sharifah Hasidah. — DayakDaily