Sarawak’s O&G rights not for sale: Asfia

Mohd Asfia (centre) in the presence of other members of State Consultative Committee, speaking to the media after chairing the State Consultative Committee at the State Legislative Assembly Complex in Kuching today.

By Peter Sibon

KUCHING, June 10: Sarawak must flash the right signal to the federal government and Petronas that its rights over its oil and gas are non-negotiable, said State Consultative Committee chairman Datuk Amar Mohd Asfia Awang Nassar today.

He stressed that Sarawak’s rights over its oil and gas are enshrined in various Sarawak’s laws and provisions such as the Oil Mining Ordinance (OMO) 1958, Inter-Governmental Report (IGC) 1963 and Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63).

“So, we must flash the right signal. If we are soft in the pursuit of our State Sales Tax, this will flash a wrong signal. Other foreign companies will be emboldened to be recalcitrant in the payment of SST.

“This will flash a signal for Petronas to continue the practice (of non-payment of SST) and that the federal government will continue to treat Petronas as a cash cow,” Mohd Asfia told a press conference after chairing the State Consultative Committee at the State Legislative Assembly Complex here today.

Quoting previous statements by Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, who was Petronas first chairman from 1974-1976 and then as Finance Minister from 1976-1994, Mohd Asfia alleged that he (Tengku Razaleigh) had referred to Petronas as a cash cow which the federal government used to finance prestigious, luxurious and exorbitant projects and to help bail out companies in financial difficulties.

“These words are his words, not mine,” said Mohd Asfia.

As such, Mohd Asfia asserted that Sarawak would not budge on its claims to the State Sales tax (SST) which has been recognised by the High Court.

“(But), the situation from before until now does not create a good climate for Sarawak because the prime minister comes and goes.

“(Now) the successive federal government has taken a stand where they do not barge an inch to the demand made by Sarawak.

“Negotiation seemed to be protracted, arduous and intractable,” said Mohd Asfia.

Mohd Asfia reiterated that with the prevailing laws in Sarawak such as the OMO, IGC and MA63, Sarawak should not give in to Petronas and Federal government anymore.

“So we have come up with three provisions namely based on PDA 74, Continental Shelf 1966 and Territorial Sea Act 2012.

“So in the three provisions, there will be a strict compartmentalisation. So negotiation should be based on the three provisions, no commercial proposal should be negotiated at the expense of the other two provisions.

“The poignant point and cardinal principle is this: that the right of oil and gas of Sarawak is not for sale and never will be. Our undeniable rights are non-negotiable. Our position on SST is clear. The judges are in favour of Sarawak and they pointed out Article 95(D)(E) where the State can impose SST,” he stressed.

Sarawak’s hope and wish, said Mohd Asfia, was to model itself like Norway where it has over USD1 trillion of wealth fund even though it did not have much oil reserves.

This, compared to Venezuela where it has surpassed Saudi Arabia as the country with most oil reserves with 300 billion barrels, but remained poor because its government has been using oil resources as a “political tool”. —DayakDaily