Outgoing Petronas CEO had no right to go beyond decision of High Court: Abdul Karim

By Lian Cheng and Sharon LIng

KUCHING, June 26: Outgoing Petronas CEO Tan Sri Wan Zulkiflee Wan Ariffin is bound by the ruling of the High Court and he cannot go beyond the decision of the court, says MA63 (the Malaysia Agreement 1963) State Consultative Committee (SCC) chief negotiator Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah.

Commenting on the departure of Wan Zulkiflee who resigned due to his objection in paying Sarawak RM2 billion State Sales Tax (SST), Abdul Karim stressed that Sarawak’s rights to its oil and gas are enshrined in both the state and federal constitution.

“He (Wan Zulkiflee) is just a CEO. He cannot go beyond what is determined by the court. The court has said that Sarawak has got the rights to impose the sales tax which is enshrined in the federal and state constitution.

“Who is to say that Sarawak has vested its petroleum rights to Petronas? He (Wan Zulkilflee) is only an individual who is also bound by the ruling of the court,” Abdul Karim told DayakDaily in an exclusive interview at his office at Bangunan Baitulmakmur here today.

Wan Zulkiflee has been reported by Reuters that he quit Petronas after disagreeing with Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin over giving more oil money to Sarawak.

The Sarawak government had taken Petronas to court over non-payment of SST amounting to RM2 billion. The High Court in Kuching judged in favour of the Sarawak government, following which Petronas filed for an appeal.

On the case, Abdul Karim who is also Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister held the view that the landmark victory of the Sarawak government versus Petronas case over payment of petroleum State Sales Tax (SST) has set the precedence where Sarawak’s rights on its oil and gas could no longer be questioned.

Abdul Karim also believed that even the change of federal government would not be able to affect the rights Sarawak has over its oil and gas.

“Even if there is a change (of government), nobody can take Sarawak’s rights to impose tax as well as the rights of Sarawak to be given the SST which runs into the billion because it will be enshrined there,” he said.

On the status of the case, Abdul Karim ascertained that Petronas will not appeal. He explained that the date set by the Court of Appeal on August 3 is not for both parties to contest the matter, but to comply with the legal proceeding of the court.

“If you were to withdraw, how are you going to get the agreed terms and conditions between the parties to be recorded in the files of the court.

“Once they have agreed to pay, it’s just the matter of quantum. They are fine tuning the details of the payment at the moment. It’s just a matter of time when the money comes in. I don’t want to speculate if Petronas suddenly backs out on August 3.”

“What we can be rest assured is that the money will come in, in due time. The beautiful thing about the court agreement is that it’s the first time Petronas has acknowledged that Sarawak does have some say over its oil and gas,” said Abdul Karim.

Abdul Karim who is also Asajaya assemblyman said the problem Sarawak has been facing over these years was that Petronas did not recognise Sarawak’s rights over its oil and gas and that it is exclusively their rights to mine and extract in Sarawak.

“To them, we are the goose that lays the golden egg. They will never want to see the rights taken away,” said Abdul Karim.—DayakDaily