Sarawak deserves slice of huge fees paid for spectrum licences, says Batu Kitang rep

Lo (left) and Pang debating on the Land Code (Amendment) Bill 2022 today (May 18, 2022) during the DUN sitting.

By Lian Cheng

KUCHING, May 18: To demonstrate the extent of benefits and importance of the Land Code (Amendment) Bill 2022, Batu Kitang assemblyman Lo Khere Chiang revealed that telecommunication company Digi pays RM598 million annually for its spectrum licence and an additional RM51 million to the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC).

He opined this is the time for Sarawak to take control of what belongs to it to ensure that parties using Sarawak’s airspace pay for its use.

“The Land Code (Amendment) Bill 2022 which includes both the airspace above Sarawak and the land below our sea is to ensure the need (sic) to strengthen our rights in order to have control over our airspace including but not limited to our spectrum.

“The airspace spectrum covers anything that goes above the air, for example, power cables, telecommunications etc, of which we can have it licensed for our benefit via our State Planning Authority (SPA).

“As it is for now, under federal laws, with regards to the column of air space, companies have to apply to the federal government for use of Sarawak airspace or below the sea. With the amendment of the Land Code, they must seek approval from Sarawak first,” said Lo when debating on the Land Code (Amendment) Bill 2022 tabled by Deputy Minister in the Premier of Sarawak’s Department (Law, MA63 and State-Federal Relations) Datuk Sharifah Hasidah Sayeed Aman Ghazali in the State Legislative Assembly (DUN) here today.

Meanwhile, Tanjong Batu assembly Johny Pang said he could foresee the potential for Sarawak to generate new sources of revenue from carbon storage and spectrum use in Sarawak’s airspace.

Sarawak as an oil and gas producing region for over a century has many depleted oil and gas reservoirs which can be used for carbon storage, he noted.

“With the passing of this Bill, our GPS (Gabungan Parti Sarawak) government can impose charges for the injection of carbon dioxide gases into our onshore or offshore depleted oil and gas reservoirs.

“According to research conducted by Rystad Energy, spending on carbon capture storage internationally will quadruple in the next three years. Hence we can see the potential of another new source of revenue for our beloved Sarawak,” said Pang when debating on the Bill today.

Sharing similar sentiments as Lo, he said taking over control of Sarawak’s airspace will mean all telecommunications companies have to pay for spectrum allocations.

Touching on the telecommunications spectrum, Pang opined that Sarawak which is located outside the Ring of Fire, with its sufficient availability of water sources for cooling of systems and also sufficient land to accommodate big data centres, should promote Sarawak as a data hub. — DayakDaily