PBB information chief: “Please give credit where it is due”

Datuk Idris Buang

By Lian Cheng

KUCHING, Dec 11: “Please give credit where it is due”.

This is the advice given by Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) information chief Datuk Idris Buang to Parti Sarawak Bersatu (PSB) presidential council member See Chee How.

To Idris, See’s recent criticism launched against Sarawak State government for its recent achievement of signing a Commercial Settlement Agreement (CSA) with Petronas spoke volume of See’s refusal of seeing the reality of things that Sarawak and its people need in this present era .

The Muara Tuang assemblyman believed that one should not level his criticism based on imaginary theories and hypothesis but rather on the reality of the needs of the rakyat and the practicality of things.

“It is undeniably that Sarawak needs more revenue and support from the Federal government and all other sectors in order to increase and improve its income streams. The State is hungry of more infrastructural, agricultural, economic and industrial developments especially those in the vast rural areas in order to bring every nook and corner of the state on track with mainstream development. We cannot do so if we depend on our traditional income base. We ought to be innovative, practically prudent and most importantly rationally realistic.

“As a member of the DUN (Sarawak Legislative Assembly) Consultative Committee on MA63 (the Malaysia Agreement 1963), I am privy to some deliberative discussions on the good intention and desire of the State government to enter into the CSA with Petronas.

“It was an almost unanimous (except for only one dissenting member) that we in the Consultative Committee have agreed to Sarawak sealing the CSA with Petronas. The move to seal the CSA is favourably considered to be in the best interest of Sarawak as the signing signifies Petronas’ acceptance or cognisance to abide by the state laws of Sarawak such as OMO (the Oil Mining Ordinance 1958), SST (the State Sales Tax 1998), Sarawak Land Code etc.

“The Sarawak government has to consider many relevant factors – international, national and local – be it legal, economic, social and/or political in nature and what is best for Sarawak  during its negotiations with Petronas,” said Idris.

A group photo after signing the Commercial Settlement Agreement between Sarawak government and Petronas on Dec 7, 2020. Graphic courtesy of Bernama.

Idris pointed out that from See’s argument, it seemed that See purely wanted the Sarawak government to take drastic, aggressive and non-negotiable stance including legal action against Petronas or the Federal government by taking them to court.

In such a case, Idris foresaw two outcomes – to win or lose.

“If Sarawak were to win, that means Petronas would have to pack and go and leave Sarawak. But it is not just as simple as that. With Petronas having made its footprints deep on our shores and shelves with the vast and massive investment and development of the oil and gas industry, we would face an inevitable question – do we have to compensate Petronas for all the capital replacements of its establishment should they be made to leave?

“Will they seek further compensation from Sarawak for less future earnings under the international ‘principle of locrum cessans‘ which the ICJ (International Court of Justice) has established and used in many of its cases?

“Under that said principle, Sarawak would have to pay Petronas all its anticipated profit in addition to an actual realisable loss and loss of future earnings which will amount to trillions of USD. When this happens, we are just imprudently killing Petronas, the proverbial goose that lays the golden eggs.

“It is as good as ‘a bald-headed man winning a precious coveted prize of a free hair-cut’. It is also similar to a Malay saying ‘menang sorak kampung tergadai’.

“If we were to lose, then we lose everything. Petronas would then ride on the court judgment and hold it against us and it would take even more legal proceedings to turn the table around, that would lead us to more uncertain future but with our state left in even dire straits and being left behind even future in all respects,” said Idris.

2020 marks remarkable milestones for Sarawak in O&G industry

He said Sarawak as a responsible government, cannot simply just come out with something rhetorical and populist sweet in the eyes of political followers but in reality delivers nothing to the rakyat.

For example, he said, it would be utter foolish if Sarawak just emotionally embarked upon demanding Petronas to give us 20 per cent oil etc; or to demand that Petroleum Development Act 1974 (PDA74) to be judicially declared as null and void, knowing very well that a protracted conundrum and quagmire would ensue dreadful political and economic consequences to not only Sarawak but the whole nation.

“Such a move though possible and in fact very easy to do, has far-reaching effects on the equilibrium and the stability of the whole nation not only on Sarawak and it would certainly lead to not only the collapse of Petronas but also spell disaster to the well-being of Malaysia’s economy which definitely would further entail adverse impacts on Sarawak,” Idris told DayakDaily.

He said PDA74 was legislated during the time of Emergency and that it involved not only Sarawak but also all the states in Malaysia including Kelantan, Terengganu, Sabah and Johore.

It was also made during the time of the 1970s global energy crisis when the Western world faced petroleum shortages and thus elevated oil prices. The two events that worsened the oil crisis were the 1973 oil crisis and 1979 energy crisis when the Yom Kippur War and the Iranian Revolution that interrupted the exports of oil from the Middle East.

Within that geopolitical scenario, he said Malaysia had to have its own national
oil company, one that is big enough to be a global player and meet the challenges internationally.

He held that while Sarawak’s oil might not be that significant to attract the attention of international powers, Sarawak does need to have full control of its own security and economy so as not to be ‘colonialised’ a second time.

“The formidable question to be answered by us, Sarawak, now is – should we take the Federal government and Petronas to court to declare the PDA74 void ab initio and then bear the heavy cost (such as mentioned earlier) and leave Sarawak haplessly with knacks of revenue to finance its ever increasing operational and development needs or should we mount our best effort and capitalise on our good Fed-State rapport to get the best of benefits therefrom for Sarawak without risking or compromising on our legal and inherent rights under MA63 and the IGC Report such as what the CSA is intended to produce.

“This is a question of prudent, rational and realistic thinking against an emotional ego-tripping of a bunch of less imaginative and less innovative politicians who hope to survive on fallacious rhetorical arguments without being able to bring any immediate tangible benefits to the rakyat.”

Fadillah, Abang Johari, Muhyiddin, Tengku Zafrul, Nizam Salleh and Muhammad Taufik (from left to right) seated at the signing ceremony of Commercial Settlement Agreement on Dec 7, 2020. Graphics courtesy of Bernama.

Idris said, as a responsible government having such strong mandate from the people, the GPS (Gabungan Parti Sarawak) government led by Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg has thought it most prudent and highly beneficial to Sarawak that it entered into the CSA which offered terms in Sarawak’s favour.

“This would be the kind of deal which could never be achieved if Sarawak is under any other leadership than what it is now or if the Federal government is still under PH (Pakatan Harapan).

He said CSA is an agreement that gives Sarawakians what we want but at the same time, protects the interest of the nation. With CSA, there is no more guessworks, our rights is spelt out in black and white and Petronas is bound by it. It is an agreement the Sarawak government, the Federal government and Petronas are all comfortable with.

“With CSA and Petronas paying SST, it means Petronas recognises our State law. There is no more turning back for Petronas or the Federal government legally. This is indeed a great victory for Sarawak,” said Idris.

Idris stressed that CSA is a historical breakthrough to Sarawak with regards to its having enormous opportunities to create more revenue streams, jobs and economic activities through various spectrum of participation in the O&G industry.

“Under the CSA, we have full control over distribution of Sarawak’s gas, we have stakes in MLNG and MLNG2 and many more commercial sharing from Petronas that have yet to come following a lot more participation of Sarawakians in oil and gas sector,” he said.

Idris pointed out, what the GPS government has achieved is real and tangible, unlike the promises made by PH which See used to be a part of but left.

“The way See talks is as if Sarawak has a wonder wand, whatever we want, we just have to point it in the air and things will happen. Well, that happens only in fairy tales and Harry Potter series and perhaps that is the world where See and his likes live in.

“Conversely, for us in GPS, we must live in reality, where dreams and visions can only be achieved through sensible, practicable, rational, prudent yet diplomatic and sincere transparent discussions between responsible leaders who put the rakyat’s interests above anything else including one’s own political survival, ” said Idris. — DayakDaily