KUCHING, June 5: Sarawak State Reform Party (STAR) said the hastiness of the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government in using Petronas against Sarawak showed its desperation to control the state’s oil and gas resources.
Its president, Lina Soo, believed the move was also an excuse by PH not to implement the 20 per cent oil royalty that was stated in their election manifesto.
“The haste by which the procedure was undertaken smacks of the federal government’s desperation to hang onto Sarawak’s oil and gas resources,” she said in a statement today.
“Is it because the federal government has now realised that their right to claim ownership of Sarawak’s petroleum resources can be challenged that they have to resort to such a tactic?”
Soo maintained that Sarawak’s petroleum resources were safeguarded by the Malaysia Agreement 1963 and the Federal Constitution.
“The federal government has breached both the Malaysia Agreement and the Federal Constitution by seizing control of Sarawak’s oil and gas through the Petroleum Development Act 1974 (PDA) and the Territorial Sea Act 2012, which had not been passed by our Dewan Undangan Negeri (Sarawak State Legislative Assembly).”
In addition, she said the PDA should not be applicable to Sarawak because Article 160 interpretation of the Federal Constitution stipulated that ‘The Federation’ meant the Federation established under the Federation of Malaya Agreement 1957.
“The Federation of Malaya Agreement 1957 does not include Sarawak as Sarawak was never a signatory to the Agreement. Article 160 remains effective and binding for the Federation of Malaya Agreement, which established the Federation of Malaya in 1957, and not for the Federation of Malaysia, which was established in 1963,” said Soo.
She urged the Sarawak government to not only strongly oppose Petronas’ court application but also to file a counter claim as follows:
1. That the PDA and Territorial Sea Act are unconstitutional because they altered the boundary of Sarawak without the consent of the Dewan Undangan Negeri.
2. That all oil and gas resources rightfully belong to Sarawak.
3. An order that Petronas cease all its oil and gas operations onshore and offshore in Sarawak immediately.
4. Claim for damages to be assessed from the date Petronas entered Sarawak to the date of the order.
5. And whatever relief the court deems fit.
In urging the Sarawak government to defend the state’s rights and territorial integrity, she said she believed the people of Sarawak would rally firmly behind the Sarawak government in defence of their motherland.
She suggested that the state government engage a Queen’s Counsel who is an expert in constitutional and international laws to handle this case, as she believed there was no legal expert in Malaysia who is capable of defending the constitutional rights of Sarawak.
Yesterday, Petronas filed an application before the Federal Court seeking a declaration on the PDA being the law applicable for the petroleum industry in Malaysia.
Petronas is seeking for a declaration that it is the exclusive owner of petroleum resources as well as the regulator for the upstream industry throughout Malaysia, including in Sarawak.
In a statement yesterday, Petronas said it believed the determination by the Federal Court would help provide clarity on its rights and position under the PDA.
The national oil company said it would remain committed to support Sarawak’s aspiration to participate in the oil and gas industry, but it had to be within the framework of the PDA. — DayakDaily