Sarawakians urged to be vigilant ‘watchdogs’ in the Year of the Dog

See (standing centre) and other PKR Sarawak leaders wish everyone Happy Chinese New Year.

KUCHING, Feb 13: The Year of the Dog should inspire all Sarawakians to be a good watchdog to guard the state’s autonomous rights and power even more zealously, said a state PKR leader.

Heartened by the recent statement of Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg, state PKR vice-president See Chee How said Abang Johari was the first Sarawakian chief minister to raise the point on crucial constitutional provision as one of the underpinning foundations to assert Sarawak’s autonomous rights and power.

Abang Johari had cited Schedule 9, List I Federal List Item 8(j) in the Federal Constitution to assert Sarawak’s sovereign rights over the issuance of permits and licences for prospecting of mines, mining leases for the development of mineral resources and stated categorically that all companies, including Petronas, need to comply with the state’s Ordinances in carrying out their petroleum development activities.

“On this count, we should rally behind our “top watchdog” in the Sarawak Legislative Assembly and Malaysian Parliament to proclaim and postulate these constitutional rights,” See told reporters today.

“The task is an onerous one; the federal government laid the obstacles 50 years ago and has been piling on the impediment since,” warned See, who is also a legal practitioner and Batu Lintang assemblyman.

He added the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) was a brilliant piece of work to protect the rights and powers of Sarawak as an autonomous state. For the formation of Malaysia, the constitutional safeguards such as subjecting all matters relating to development of mineral resources which is found in Schedule 9 List I Federal List Item 8(j) to List II State List Item 2 which specified that all matters relating to “land” are under the exclusive jurisdiction and sovereignty of the state.

The Emergency Order proclaimed in 1969 was the first impediment to curtail Sarawak’s sovereign rights to its valuable resources, See said.

“Under the same legal regime, the Petroleum Development Act was enacted and Petronas was incorporated to be vested with all rights over our petroleum resources.

“The lifting of the Emergency Order in November 2011 should have the effect to restore our sovereign rights to our valuable resources including petroleum, but the federal government under the leadership of the present Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak was quick to push through the Territorial Sea Act in 2012 to curtail Sarawak’s sovereign rights to her territorial boundary and thereby maintaining the state of affairs whereby development of mineral resources remains substantially under the federal administration.”

See said Abang Johari must therefore vigilantly follow up with the reference that was made to the federal government by his predecessor Tok Nan (late chief Minister Pehin Sri Adenan Satem), and insist on the restoration of Sarawak’s sovereign rights and control to its territorial boundary which encompasses the foreshore and seabed to the extent of its continental shelf in accordance with the Sarawak (Alternation of Boundaries) Order in Council 1954.

“As it is now, even if Sarawak is given full control over the issuance of permits and licences for the prospecting of mines, mining leases for the development of mineral resources, our rights are constrained to those areas found onshore and up to three nautical miles off our shores.

“This is not effectual to the protection and restoration of Sarawak’s rights and sovereign control for our mineral resources and their development. Even in the case of petroleum resources, the bulk of our oil and gas potentials and mines are located outside the three nautical miles limit.”

See said that restoring Sarawak’s full rights in territorial boundary will enable the state to have control of all mineral resources and their development to the extent of 200 nautical miles and that may be extended to 300 nautical miles as it was in the case of the United States of America and several other countries.

“That is what we should be aiming for, to ensure Sarawak’s territorial integrity and sovereignty,” he emphasised. — DayakDaily