Petros a Petronas contractor only — Abdul Aziz

Abdul Aziz Isa

KUCHING, June 9: A Sarawak DAP leader is of the opinion that Petroleum Sarawak Berhad (Petros) is at most only a contractor to Petronas under the Petroleum Development Act 1974 (PDA).

Abdul Aziz Isa, special assistant to state DAP chief Chong Chieng Jen, said there were two sections in the PDA that vests the exclusive rights and ownership of oil and gas with Petronas, namely S.2(1) and S.6(1).

S.2(1) states that `The entire ownership in, and exclusive rights, powers, liberties and privileges of exploring, exploiting, winning and obtaining petroleum, whether it is onshore or offshore of Malaysia, shall be vested in a Corporation to be incorporated under the Companies Act 1965 or under the law relating to incorporation of companies’.

S.6(1) states that `Notwithstanding the provisions of any other written law, no business of processing or refining of petroleum or manufacturing of petrochemical products from petroleum may be carried out by any person other than Petronas, unless there is in respect of any such business a permission given by the Prime Minister’.

“Judging from these two provisions and from the face of the facts, it is safe to submit that without amendments to the provisions of the PDA, Sarawak’s so-called oil and gas company, Petros, is at most a contractor to Petronas.

“It is not even equal to or independent of Petronas. Meaning to say, Petros is not on par in status to Petronas,” said Abdul Aziz in a statement today.

He said any law passed in Malaysia and duly gazetted to come into force is deemed to be a ‘good law’ until it is repealed or when the Federal Court declares it to be unconstitutional and null and void.

“In other words, Parliament is the highest law-making body in the country, not the United Nation or other international bodies. The Parliamentary supremacy cannot be overruled by any other law-making bodies.”

Aziz added that to change the law, it must be done in Parliament, and to declare what the law is, it must be done in court. The constitutionality of these laws must either be challenged in court or repealed by Parliament or amended.

“In my humble opinion, (Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi) Abang Johari (Tun Openg) is avoiding the real issue, which is the ownership of the oil and gas found in Sarawak.

“All he has ever talked about for the past two weeks is the regulatory power, which the state government will still be sharing with Petronas and the federal government.”

Abdul Aziz described it as a big slap to the Sarawak government when Petronas filed an application before the Federal Court on June 4 seeking a declaration on the PDA being the law applicable for the petroleum industry in Malaysia.

“Without a shadow of a doubt, this proves that the chief minister had blatantly lied to Sarawakians when he claimed that Sarawak will regain rights to fully exploit oil and gas resources and other resources constitutionally under the State List as per the Ninth Schedule of the Federal Constitution.

“He didn’t just lie once, but twice. The second lie was when he claimed that the then Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak had agreed to return the state’s power over its natural resources, including oil and gas, which had been inadvertently eroded over the years. However, until the last general election, it wasn’t materialised by the BN regime.”

Aziz said Pakatan Harapan (PH) was not disputing the fact that based on the Sarawak (Alteration of Boundaries) Order by the Queen-in-Council 1954 and the lifting of the Proclamation Of Emergency 1969, the Sarawak government is constitutionally entitled to exercise its original rights over the onshore and offshore mining of oil and gas according to the state’s Oil Mining Ordinance 1958.

“The problem that we are facing right now is that instead of getting full autonomy of our oil and gas resources as vested in the Oil Mining Ordinance 1958, we were merely given ‘regulatory power’.

“We are not talking about regulatory authority but ‘ownership’ of all our oil and gas resources. We may have regulatory authority to manage our oil and gas resources, but do we own them? This is a laughing stock.”

He argued that by virtue of the provisions of the PDA, the ultimate ownership and control of the oil and gas industry in Sarawak remained with Petronas and the Prime Minister, since Petronas was put under the Prime Minister’s Department.

“As such, Sarawak BN has no other choice except to use the so-called `regulatory power’ term to confuse and fool the people of Sarawak. Now, with the legal action issued by Petronas, Sarawak BN is reaping what it sowed.” — DayakDaily