See to Sarawak govt: Take Petronas’ court action seriously

See Chee How

KUCHING, June 5: Sarawak is now in a precarious situation pertaining to its petroleum resources due to its arrogance, gross negligence and erroneous judgment.

State PKR vice-chairman See Chee How said this at a press conference today in response to Petronas’ application to the Federal Court yesterday to seek a declaration that Petronas is the exclusive owner of the petroleum resources as well as the regulator for upstream activities throughout Malaysia, including Sarawak.

See, who is also a lawyer by profession, urged the state government and Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg to take the matter “seriously”.

“There can be no more margin of error in the effort to safeguard our sovereign rights and authority to our territorial boundary and resources, including oil and gas.”

See, who is also Batu Lintang assemblyman, said he had repeatedly urged the state government to seek judicial declaration on the unconstitutionality of the Territorial Sea Act 2012 (TSA) and the lapse and nullity of the Petroleum Development Act 1974 (PDA) since 18 months ago.

Abang Johari had pronounced that the PDA and TSA were ‘null and void’ and that Sarawak was to assume full regulatory authority over the upstream and downstream aspects of the oil and gas industry in the state by next month as part of the devolution of powers from the federal government.

“In their arrogance, they brushed aside the persistent calls by elected representatives of the state opposition and concerned NGOs to seek judicial declaration on the unconstitutionality of TSA and the lapse and nullity of PDA,” said See.

“It is also their gross negligence over the last 18 months that they failed to follow up with Putrajaya on the reference that was made by the late former chief minister (Pehin Sri Adenan Satem) to annul and amend the provisions in the TSA and PDA.”

See added that the state government had committed serious errors in their decision to ignore and abandon the unanimous resolution of the State Legislative Assembly to make demands for the raise of petroleum royalty to 20 per cent, arguing that they could gain full rights over the valuable petroleum resources under the present regime of legislatures simply by amending the Sarawak Oil Mining Ordinance.

“It was also a fatal and erroneous judgment of the state government that the former prime minister (Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak) and the Barisan Nasional federal government are infallible.”

See stressed that leaders of both political divides, as Sarawakians, must learn to be humble from this costly lesson and be ready to work together to reclaim Sarawak’s territorial rights and assert the state’s sovereignty over the exploration, prospecting and mining of petroleum and other resources found within the state’s territory.

He believed the state government, with the expertise of a good experienced legal team, would file the necessary application to declare the nullity of PDA.

He explained that legal contention should rightly be mounted on the constitutionality of the TSA and legality and enforceability of the PDA, which was part of the regime of the Emergency Orders proclaimed in 1969 and has since been revoked in 2011.

“It is also pertinent for us to challenge the constitutionality and legality of the Tripartite Agreement signed between the Federal Government, the Sarawak State Government and Petronas vesting our rights over all our petroleum resources to Petronas.”

See pointed out that Sarawak, together with Sabah, were being indiscriminately exploited economically for 55 years under the rule of BN, but he stressed that the new Pakatan Harapan government had vowed to address the injustice in its reform agenda.

PH, in its election manifesto, had pledged to increase the petroleum royalty to 20 per cent or equivalent, look into devolution of legislative executive and fiscal powers to Sarawak and Sabah and also to scrutinise the PDA to review Petronas’ monopoly. — DayakDaily