KUCHING, Feb 20: An opposition leader has claimed that Sarawak United Peoples’ Party (SUPP) president Dr Sim Kui Hian’s recent statement that the state Barisan Nasional (BN) government has eased on their demands for 20 per cent oil royalty insults not only the legacy of late Chief Minister Pehin Sri Adenan Satem but is also a direct admission of the Sarawak BN government’s failure to implement the wishes of Sarawakians.
Dr Sim made the statement during the first day of Chinese New Year (CNY) at the party’s open house here on Feb 16.
“It was in 2014, during the tenure of the late Adenan Satem, that the Sarawak Legislative Assembly unanimously voted in favour of a resolution to request the federal government for an increase in the oil royalty from 5 per cent to 20 per cent.
“However, since then, little to nothing has been done even with all the political talk and empty promises made to the people of Sarawak,” said Dr Kelvin Yii, special assistant to Bandar Kuching MP Chong Chieng Jen, in a recent press statement.
He alleged Dr Sim even tried to justify this admission of failure with the setting up of state-owned Petroleum Sarawak Berhad (Petros) and its supposed potential of higher revenue from newly discovered gas fields, if any, and the re-exploiting of old oil fields.
Yii said even with the establishment of Petros as well as Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg’s declaration to exert the state’s mining rights, there was still the matter of the deal struck by Petronas to award Japan’s JX Nippon Oil & Gas Exploration the oil and gas rights for the Beryl gas field off the coast of Miri in December 2017
“This is an embarrassment to the BN state government has it happened under its nose even with all the fiery speeches and empty promises.
“On top of that, even if Sarawak is given full control over the issuance of permits and licences for the prospecting of mines and mining leases for the development of mineral resources, there is still a legal dispute as “our rights are constrained to those areas found onshore and up to three nautical miles off our shores” due to the Territorial Sea Act 2012 passed by the BN government under Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak.
“The implication is that in the case of petroleum resources, the bulk of our oil and gas potential and mines are located outside the three nautical miles limit.
“On top of that, even if we exert the mining rights, the ownership of the oil and revenues derived from it still belongs to Petronas due the Petroleum Development Act 1974. So, our powers are somewhat ‘administrative’ in issuing licences, but we do not have full control of our resources.”
Yii also claimed that currently, Petros is only a subcontractor involved in the logistics and transportation sphere rather than the promised role in oil exploration in the state, and thus, since BN Sarawak is not pursuing 20 per cent oil royalty, the state will lose out on these revenues which rightfully belongs to it.
He also said it was ‘regrettable’ that Dr Sim chose such an auspicious celebration to continue to mislead the public regarding the intentions and pledges of opposition coalition Pakatan Harapan (PH) to the people of Sarawak.
“On top of returning the 20 per cent oil royalty, it is also clearly stated in our Sarawak State Manifesto that we will be setting up an equivalent of Petronas in Sarawak called Sarawak Petrogas to be wholly owned by the government of Sarawak to ensure that Sarawak Petrogas shall jointly manage oil and gas resources within the territorial boarders and waters of Sarawak together with Petronas.
“Thus, there will be double profit from the 20 per cent oil royalty and also having an active participation on the management of oil and gas resources within our territorial borders. This shows our sincerity in upholding the interest of Sarawakians unlike BN Sarawak who is subservient to the wishes of UMNO/BN.
“Thus I hope Dr Sim stops misleading the public with regards to their failure in honouring their promises to the people of Sarawak on top of going against the wishes of the late Tok Nan (Adenan).”
Yii said the best platform for Sarawak to regain its rights is for PH to take over the federal government and allowing the opposition to serve and protect the interest of the people. — DayakDaily