Petronas oil suit: Sarawak’s victory a victory for Sarawakians’ rights — Soo

Lina Soo

KUCHING, June 22: The striking out of Petronas’ suit against the Sarawak Government today is a victory for Sarawakians’ rights, said Sarawak Reform Party (STAR) president Lina Soo.

She said victory was also possible due to the protections enshrined in the Sarawak Constitution, the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) and the Federal Constitution.

However, Soo cautioned that this was only “round one” and foresaw that the struggles to recover other state rights and powers that had been usurped by the federal government over the years would be a long one.

“To suggest that the PDA (Petroleum Development Act 1974) repeals Sarawak Oil Mining Ordinance 1958 is ludicrous and preposterous because the law cannot be repealed by implication.

“How can a federal law subvert a Sarawak law that has been there since 1958, before the formation of Malaysia?” she said in a statement.

Soo opined that no federal law could amend the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) as it was a multi-lateral international treaty that cannot be amended without all five nations going back to the negotiating table.

She quoted Article 1(3) of the Federal Constitution, which states that Sarawak’s political boundary is pre-1963 boundary, which is specified in Sarawak (Alteration of Boundaries) Order in Council 1954.

“How can PDA change Sarawak’s boundary or repeal this Order by implication? The Sarawak government never passed a law through its state assembly to give the late Chief Minister Tun Abdul Rahman Yakub the mandate to sign the vesting order that passed all petroleum rights to Petronas,” said Soo.

Soo said any unilateral attempt to amend MA63 would be a breach of the international treaty agreement.

“The PDA is a serious violation of MA63.”

In this respect, she urged the state government to evaluate this fundamental breach of MA63 without fear or favour, and to take action accordingly.

Soo also gave a reminder that Petronas had not been paying mining and related fees to Sarawak for the last 42 years. She believed the arrears accumulated must have reached USD$1 trillion.

“I request the Sarawak Finance Minister to prepare the bill and collect the outstanding payment from Petronas so that Sarawak will have the means to finance the Pan Borneo Highway and provide water, electricity and healthcare to our rural population.

“Not only must justice be done, it must also be seen to be done,” said Soo, quoting a well known maxim in law.

The Federal Court today struck out Petronas’ application to have exclusive rights over oil and gas in Sarawak.

Assistant Minister of Law, State-Federal Relations and Project Monitoring Sharifah Hasidah Sayeed Aman Ghazali said the implication of the decision was that Sarawak could now enforce its Mining Ordinance 1958, which required Petronas to obtain licence from Sarawak to operate here comes July 1, 2018. — DayakDaily