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KUCHING, Nov 17: A special task committee comprising the three Sarawakian deputy chief ministers and at least one senior minister from the federal government will be formed to discuss the state’s rights over its natural resources including the matter of Petronas needing licences to extract oil and gas in Sarawak.
Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg said based on the United Nation Convention on the Law of the Sea 1982 and the definition therein, Sarawak has the mining rights over its seabed which is within 12 nautical miles from the shore.
Additionally, based on the state’s Mining Ordinance which is still effective, any mining of natural resources is a state matter.
“In other words, if you want to get into that area (mining of resources), you will have to get a licence from the state government who has the authority over the land,” Abang Johari told the press after the State Legislative Assembly today.
He did not deny Petronas’ rights to explore for oil and gas; however, he stressed that Petronas must obtain a licence from the state.
When pressed on the timeline for the taskforce to materialise, Abang Johari said presently, the issue is still under negotiation.
“We will start first with what is the best mechanism for us to get involved in oil and gas. Not only in oil and gas but any other resources in our continental shelf, under the territorial waters,” said Abang Johari who is also the Urban Development and Natural Resources Minister.
He said from the Sarawak side, the three deputy chief ministers — Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas, Tan Sri Dr James Jemut Masing and Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan — will be involved in the discussion while from the federal side, he hoped to get Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi to be on the special task committee.
If Zahid could not participate, Abang Johari hoped at least a senior minister from the federal government may be involved in the discussion where decisions made during the discussion may be reported to the federal cabinet.
He said Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Dato Sri Nancy Shukri and Foreign Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman who are sitting in the technical committee which is responsible for the devolution of power based on the Malaysian Agreement 1963 were not positioned to make the major decisions on behalf of Sarawak and Sabah.
Abang Johari said after the special task committee made their decisions, he would discuss the decisions with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak. — DayakDaily