“Sleeping” Sarawak still has its constitutional rights, says ex-rep

Ng (centre) in a group photo with other civil society activists, including State Reform Party president Lina Soo (left) and STAR chairman Buin Ribos (on Soo’s left).

KUCHING, June 21: Sarawak may have been sleeping for 40 years but its constitutional rights remain intact, says former Padungan assemblyman Dominique Ng.

Ng, who is a lawyer, noted that most Sarawakians did not know of the state’s rights until recently.

“Many years ago, I already started to talk about Sarawak rights, but nobody listened. It was only after (the late Chief Minister Pehin Sri) Adenan Satem that this subject started to become an issue,” he said today.

“Before this, we didn’t mind. Now we do mind. It (oil and gas resources) is wrongly taken away from us. So now we are taking steps to take it back.”

Ng said the Petronas vs Sarawak Government suit was precipitated by the step taken by Sarawak. The state government had announced to Petronas and the federal government that effective July 1 they would have to abide by the state’s licensing.

“It is a step in the right direction. The Sarawak government has been making preparations for it for the last two years, except that they did not make it known. (Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi) Abang Johari is doing the right thing,” said Ng.

He claimed he had been looking into the Petroleum Development Act 1974 (PDA) but it was only recently that he came across an “attachment” — the grant signed by former Chief Minister Tun Abdul Rahman Yakub and former State Secretary Tan Sri Bujang Mohd Nor to give away Sarawak’s oil and gas rights under the PDA.

“The question that needs to be asked and answered now is does the chief minister of 1974 have the right to grant something that should passed through the Sarawak Assembly?

“He (Yakub) did sign the grant, but it was not passed in the Sarawak Assembly. Whatever that was signed, is it valid? They do represent Sarawak in normal circumstances, but oil and gas resources have constitutional protection and provision. Can anyone circumvent it?”

Ng added that similarly, the PDA was also not passed in the Sarawak Assembly as required under Article 2 of the Federal Constitution.

He thus opined that if the PDA was not valid, the Sarawak government did not even have to call for it to be repealed.

“We only have to say that it is null and void and not applicable to Sarawak … just like what Abang Johari did,” said Ng. — DayakDaily