By Peter Sibon
KUCHING, Dec 13: Neither Petronas nor the federal government has made a concrete offer to Sarawak about selling stakes in the national oil giant to Sarawak, revealed Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg.
As such, he said he would not be able to comment on the issue as it was based merely on hearsay.
“We have to know first what the terms are. (But so far)….there is nothing,” he told the media after witnessing the formalisation of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) made eight years ago between Naim Holdings Berhad, Lembaga Amanah Kebajikan Masjid Negeri Sarawak (LAKMNS) and Tabung Baitulmal at his office here today.
When asked if Sarawak would buy the liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant in Bintulu if Petronas decided to sell it, Abang Johari said that there was no offer, dismissing it as “hearsay”.
“There must be a letter, then I can respond. (But there is)…nothing,” he reiterated, adding that he would brief the press after the meeting.
On what he expected in the upcoming meeting with Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal on Monday (Dec 16), Abang Johari replied, “I don’t know because there is no agenda.”
In an interview with Reuters on Dec 10, Dr Mahathir said Malaysia was considering selling stakes in Petronas to the country’s oil-and-gas producing states where the company’s oil in a bid to raise funds for the debt-laden government.
He had also said that the government could not meet a demand made by the states for a quadrupling of the royalties paid by the company to 20 per cent of its profit.
“It’s fully owned by the government, it’s up to the government to sell the shares privately not in the market, to states like Sabah and Sarawak. Petronas is a very big company, it depends on how much (the states) can pay also,” Dr Mahathir was quoted as saying.
Both Sarawak and Sabah have claimed territorial rights to its oil and gas resources within their respective boundaries under the Malaysia Agreement 1963, and are unlikely to compromise on anything less than 20 per cent oil royalty.
Additionally, Sarawak is also seeking payment from the 5 per cent Sales Tax on oil and gas products from oil companies operating in Sarawak which Petronas is challenging in court. —DayakDaily